6.23.2018

Martha Stewart Weddings to Cease Print Publication

I was really saddened yesterday when I learned that Martha Stewart Weddings will no longer publish its quarterly magazine. According to an article in the New York Post, the magazine will cease publication of the print version of its magazine but will instead move its content online. Once a year, Meredith Corp. plans to publish a special issue of Martha Stewart Weddings for the newsstand, the first of which will appear this September. Martha Stewart Real Weddings, a supplement to the main Weddings magazine which published twice a year, will also cease publication.

Amy Conway, who was the editor-in-chief of Weddings, has moved to Health magazine, another Meredith title. Several other staff members were moved into other roles at Meredith but others were let go. Elizabeth Graves, the editor-in-chief of Martha Stewart Living, will now oversee the Weddings website and the special annual publication.

Martha Stewart Weddings began as a supplemental special issue for Martha Stewart Living in the fall of 1995. Filled with ideas for the bride regarding all areas of wedding planning, the magazine went on to publish as its own entity in 1999 as a quarterly magazine centered on seasonal wedding themes and ideas. The magazine covered topics such as gowns, cakes, jewelry, stationery, flower bouquets, table settings, favours, etiquette, honeymoon destinations and more.
I did not collect the Weddings magazine the way I collect Living, however I have purchased enough copies over the years to have amassed a full file folder of clippings: tear-sheets of my favourite cakes and flower arrangements, stationery ideas and favours. I also have several collector's editions of the magazine and some of the Weddings books that Martha published. The ideas the publication contained could always be parlayed into any celebration, whether it was an anniversary or a milestone celebration. After more than 20 years, it must be sad for Martha and Darcy Miller, the chief editorial director for Weddings and the one who really gave the Weddings brand its voice, to say goodbye to the magazine.

I look forward to the annual issue in September.

6.11.2018

Martha Stewart Weddings: Two Covers for the Summer Issue

The editors of Martha Stewart Weddings have printed two covers for the summer issue of the magazine. Both covers feature confections by Wendy Kromer: one is a flawless cake with a woven icing motif and the other features individually wrapped cookies (very fancy cookies) all pretty in pink. The issue features beautiful bridesmaid's gowns, new takes on 'casual' summer wedding dresses (think boho-chic) and my favourite feature is all about single-serving desserts: remember those fancy cookies? Which cover do you like best?

6.10.2018

Remembering: Martha Stewart Paint

There are literally thousands of paint colours on the market today and making a selection can be daunting, if not entirely confusing. Martha understood that when she set out to design her own line of paint colours in the 1990s. Top of mind for Martha was simplicity in the selection process, without sacrificing a wide range of colour palettes to choose from. The history of Martha's paint lines dates back to the late 1980s when she was hired as a lifestyle consultant for Kmart. From there, it blossomed into one of Martha's most successful merchandising ventures. Below is a history of Martha's paint brands put together with the help of my friend Kenn LaFramboise. Enjoy!
Above is just a small selection of the hundreds of paint colours developed by Martha Stewart Living over the years.

Her first forays into the world of paint was through Kmart when she was hired in 1987 to be the brand's lifestyle consultant. Charged with revitalizing the store's sagging home sales, Martha was brought on board to act as a spokesperson for the company's line of housewares, which included a line of paints manufactured by Dutch Boy. While Martha initially had very little say in the selection of the colour palettes, she was asked by Kmart to use the paints in their commercials. It wasn't long before Martha asked to have some say in the colour selection process but her suggestions were often overlooked in favour of the tried-and-true 'builder special' colours that sold so well.

Not one to take no for an answer, Martha endeavored to create her own line of paint colours with the help of Eve Ashcraft, a colour specialist. Using the book "The Garden Month by Month" by Mabel Cabet Sedgewick as inspiration, Martha and Eve developed a line of hues inspired by nature, from soft greens to pale pinks, faded blues to rich reds. Martha took her samples to Fine Paints of Europe, which later manufactured the paint with Schreuder Paints. The original palette "Colors of the Garden" had just 29 colours and was not widely distributed. It wasn't until Martha launched her mail-order catalog, Martha by Mail, that the paints found an audience. In 1995, Martha added the "Araucana Colors" - inspired by the egg-shell hues of Martha's Araucana hens - and later "The Colors of Skylands" (49 colours) inspired by her home in Maine.
The Araucana paint palette was designed with calming neutrals in mind, inspired by the egg-shell hues of Martha's Araucana hens.
In 1997, when Martha Stewart Living renegotiated the terms of its partnership agreement with Kmart, Martha and her team were given full creative control of her namesake brand and Martha created her first mass-market paint line called Martha Stewart Everyday Colors. The collection included hundreds of colour options and was later expanded to include enamel paints and accessories, including rollers, brushes, paint trays and other painting tools. The Martha Stewart Everyday Colors line went on to become the most successful paint line in Kmart's history.

In 2005, after the launch of her new Signature furniture line with Bernhardt, Martha also released a new palette of colours called Martha Stewart Signature Colors with Sherwin Williams. The collection featured 416 sophisticated colours, designed to coordinate with the new Signature furniture, carpet and lighting collections Martha had developed. The paints were designed to mix with eight different Sherwin Williams paint finishes and the colour cards had many helpful and unique features to make the palette selection simple. For instance, the paint cards had large round holes cut from the centers, allowing the consumer to overlap the paint cards to coordinate a palette. Each card also featured suggested paint hues (ceiling, trim) that would coordinate with your main colour choice.
When Martha's partnerships with Kmart and Sherwin Williams ended in 2006, Martha took her paint palettes to Lowe's where she rebranded many of her past paint colours under a new moniker and logo: Martha Stewart Colors. The 350 paint colours were manufactured by Valspar and were available for a period of two years.


After the discontinuation of her paint lines in all retail markets, Martha was poised to bring back a paint line to a mass-market retailer. This time it was The Home Depot. The Martha Stewart Living paint line was launched in March, 2010, with 250 original paint colours, including interior and exterior grades. The paints were formulated to be low VOC (volatile organic compounds) to minimize paint fumes. In 2011, the line was expanded to include specialty finishes, including metallic and textured finishes. Accessories, including brushes, rollers and special tools to create trompe-l'oeil effects, such as faux boix, were also developed. The paint brand was discontinued just two years later but the colour palettes remained available to be mixed with Gidden Paint bases.
Tiny symbols on these textured paint chips denote which hues pair well with others: matching the symbols will create a roster of coordinating palette options.
Special brushes, sponges and tools were designed to create unique textures and patterns, such as faux-bois, linen, gingham and plaid. 
Below is an abbreviated history of Martha Stewart's paint brands. Many thanks to my friend Kenn LaFramboise for his efforts in helping me with this bog.


AT HOME WITH MARTHA STEWART

* When Kmart decided to hire Martha as their ‘lifestyle consultant’ a merchandise line was built around her name. Included was a color palette with Martha's name on it that was manufactured by Dutch Boy paints
* Martha had no input into the color palette or the rest of the line that was created.
* Started 1987-1989

FINE PAINTS OF EUROPE WITH SCHREUDER PAINTS

* First original palette development with Eve Ashcraft and Martha in 1992
* Limited retail distribution. Not considered a ‘mass market’ product
* The first palette, Colors of the Garden (29 colors) was inspired by the book “The Garden Month by Month” by Mabel Cabet Sedgewick. The color chart of flower colors inspired Martha to retain Eve to develop her own.
* The first glimpse of the palette can be found in the April/May 1992 issue of March Stewart Living in an article titled “Painting the House.”
* Other color palettes were added to the collection, including the Colors of Skylands 1999 (49 colors) and the Araucana Colors 1995 (22 colors). The entire collection contained 100 different colors
* All of the palette fan decks were sold through Martha by Mail in the 1990s .
* The paint was never distributed through mass-market retail. It was only available at high end specialty paint stores.

MARTHA STEWART EVERYDAY WITH KMART

* The first mass market paint line debuted in May, 1997 through Kmart
* Colors were developed with Eve Ashcraft
* Expanded in 1998 to include Garden enamels (spray and brush) as well as painting tools (brushes, rollers, etc.)
* The Martha Stewart Everyday Colors line was the most successful paint line in Kmart's history
* Color cards included multiple complementary colors to make picking coordinating colors easier
*The Everyday paint line ended when Martha's partnership with Kmart ceased in 2007.

MARTHA STEWART SIGNATURE WITH SHERWIN WILLIAMS

* Debut was May, 2005
* Program ended: January, 2007
* Collection of 416 sophisticated paint colors which launched in conjunction with the debut of her Signature furniture line with Bernhardt.
* Unique paint chips (color cards) with punch out center to allow for easier color coordination with other items in the room
* Palette Cards were available to help the consumer coordinate colors. Each card showed 5 different colors specifically designed to coordinate with one and other; perfect for picking wall, ceiling, trim colors.
* Formulated to mix with 8 different Sherwin Williams paint bases

MARTHA STEWART COLORS WITH LOWE'S

* Debuted in April, 2007
* Ended November, 2009
* Collection of 350 paint colors mixed in Valspar paint bases
* More of a partnership rebranding than a new launch, the line utilized much of the same color palettes as the Signature Paints with Sherwin Williams

MARTHA STEWART LIVING PAINTS WITH THE HOME DEPOT

* Debuted in March, 2010
* 280 original paint colors
* Utilized a ‘symbol’ coordination system: matching symbols on the color cards meant that the hues coordinated with each other.
* In February, 2011 the line expanded to include faux finishes and specialty finish paints
* Paint chips included a ‘bend over stripe’ to see what the suggested ceiling color looked like with the paint color
* Available in indoor and outdoor formulas with low VOC (volatile organic compound) meaning there was minimal toxicity and fumes
* In January, 2012 the Martha Stewart Living paint line ‘brand’ was discontinued, however the palette was still available at The Home Depot. It was reformulated to mix with Glidden paint bases.
* The paint colors can still be mixed today if a customer has the formula code.

5.16.2018

The Martha Manual

Next January, Martha will release the first in a series of three books devoted to doing things the Martha Stewart way. "The Martha Manual" is the first in the series and will instruct readers on how to do (almost) everything, from building a campfire to removing red wine stains; from how to fold a flag to how to bathe a cat. Encyclopedic in its tone, with 400 pages of information, I imagine the book will have a similar feel to the Homekeeping Handbook but will cover a wider range of lifestyle topics, such as how to play certain lawn games and the best way to pack a weekend bag. Encompassing organizing, gardening, cooking, celebrating and crafting, the book will be a go-to resource for any household conundrum.

5.13.2018

Examples of Martha's Metal Tree Planter

Members of the Martha Moments Facebook group have recently shared photos of their new metal tree planters from QVC. Everyone who has received it, that I have spoken to, has loved the item: easy to install, durable and, especially, beautiful. (Some did mention they wish the pots were slightly larger so that they could plant more in them). In the photos below, all look delightful mounted on the walls of their homes. Thank you to Dennis Landon, Shannon Weidner-Brown and Melissa Smith-Knerr for sharing their photos. Have you purchased anything from Martha's QVC line yet? What do you think of the items?

5.03.2018

A Preview of Martha’s Auction

When Martha Moments reader Paul Stoddard (of Swirly Designs) realized that the upcoming Martha Stewart auction in Beverly, Massachusetts, was being held just a half-hour drive from his house, he decided to take a closer look. Kaminski Auctions is hosting a sale this weekend at their gallery at 117 Elliott Street of hundreds of items from Martha Stewart's prop library. These were items that were used primarily on Martha's television shows, at various events and for the magazine. A portion of the benefits will go to support the Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Paul took the drive to the gallery and had a chance to preview the auction items. Below are his photographs. Thank you, Paul, for sharing them! If you cannot attend the live auction, absentee bidding is also provided. Click here to bid for items online.
Outside the gallery are large banners advertising the sale.
Kaminski has provided catalogs for the auction.
A pair of Martha Stewart Collection oven mitts has been autographed by Martha for the auction.
This toboggan was also signed by Martha. It was featured on the cover of the December, 2009, issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine.
I loved these white chairs!
And all of this lawn furniture!
You can't have a Martha Stewart auction without cake stands!
Beautiful vintage glassware.
An interesting mix of silver pieces - badly in need of some polish!
One of my favourite things to collect: egg cups!
The gallery was filled with items!
I quite like this collection of garden planters.
Paul noticed a small bin with handmade Christmas ornaments, featuring images of Martha's family, including her mother and her nephew Christopher.
Paul was quite taken with this one of Martha with her mom.
The wreath that was featured on the December, 2017, issue of Martha Stewart Living, created by Kevin Sharkey, is also up for auction.

4.30.2018

Martha's Five Best Cookbooks

As my cookbook-author friends Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell once wrote, "No one really needs another cookbook." The best and most classic recipes have already been immortalized in cookbooks around the world. Many of the simplest recipes have even become part of our culinary vocabulary. Some, like hard-boiled eggs or baked potatoes, have been committed to memory, while heirloom recipes usually get written down on notecards or scraps of paper and are passed from generation to generation. Published recipes are now easily found online and are simply copied and pasted, texted, tagged or forwarded from friend to friend to friend. 

Still, there is something to be said for a collection of recipes printed on paper with beautiful photographs to look at, with special tips and hints from the experts. It's nice to have recipes grouped by theme or by season or by menu, all collected between two covers. I recently tasked myself with the challenge of selecting Martha Stewart's top five cookbooks. With more than two dozen cookbooks bearing the Martha Stewart imprint, whittling down the selection to five absolute essentials seemed like a sensible thing for a Martha blogger to do. So, below are THE top five Martha Stewart cookbooks that everyone needs, listed chronologically by publication date.  Not everyone will agree with my selection, of course, but that's what the comments section is for! [Following is a list of supplemental books that could bolster and complement the Big Five but that are not necessarily must-haves.]

The first is The Martha Stewart Cookbook. Published in 1995, it is a collection of more than 1,400 recipes from the Martha Stewart archives that had been published to that point. All of Martha's classic recipes from each of her previous cookbooks are featured in this one volume, making it, perhaps, the most essential Martha cookbook of them all. Recipes for every level of skill are featured, although most are quite advanced. Over 21 chapters, Martha organizes her recipes by subject and takes us through "The Basics" (stocks, doughs, pastry, etc.), "Eggs", "Vegetables" and so on, spanning more than 620 pages. Lovers of the lush photography that is usually featured in Martha's books may be disappointed since there are no photos to be found in this book - only how-to illustrations accompanying some of the recipes. This is very much a compendium, a recipe repertoire, a how-to tome, underscored by Martha's tips and notes for entertaining, setting a table and stocking a pantry. For the Martha Stewart completist, this book ought to be in your collection.
Her first book on the subject of appetizers is classic Martha: well-organized, ambitious in its scope, beautiful in its presentation and brimming with inspiration and information. Martha Stewart's Hors D'Oeuvres Handbook was published in 1999 and is probably one of the most user-friendly cookbooks I've ever seen; even the size of the book was considered to make it easy to fit in the palm of the reader's hand while in use! All of the colour photographs for the recipes are collected at the front of the book, cross-referenced with the page number featuring the recipe, allowing the reader to browse the imagery first to select which hors d'oeuvres appeal to them, visually. Grouped into chapters denoting the style of the hors d'oeuvre (layered and stacked, wrapped, rolled, filled, folded, stuffed, etc.) the book takes all the guesswork out of the selection process, even providing menu suggestions, wine pairings and a chapter on cocktails! Frankly, it's the best book on hors d'oeuvres ever written, in my opinion, making it a definite Martha must-have. 
The Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook contains the very best of the holiday recipes published in Martha Stewart Living magazine, from the first issue through to 2003, which is when the book was published. Included are Martha's favourite Christmas recipes as well as selections by her food editors: more than 600 recipes in all. Having the best of Martha's Christmas recipes in one volume is a reader's delight and it's one of our family's favourite books to use each holiday, even if we only make one or two of the recipes. Over ten chapters, each course is covered, from breakfast to dinner: Christmas morning essentials, hors d'oeuvres, main courses, desserts and cocktails. There are how-to illustrations and full-colour photographs to guide and inspire the cook, as well as menu suggestions and presentation ideas, even packaging ideas for giving food as gifts. It's a gorgeous, thorough collection of the best holiday recipes Martha Stewart Living has ever published.
In this beautiful volume, everything - and I do mean everything - you need to know about baking is included. Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook was published in 2005 and it is the definitive guide to the art of baking. By beginning the book with general baking tips and baking equipment, the book gives the reader a sense of confidence immediately. The book then progresses into Simple Baked Goods, then Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Tarts, Cobblers and Crisps, then Yeasted Baked Goods and finally Pastries. This is followed by a Basic Recipes sections where you'll find recipes for lemon curd, buttercream frosting, seven-minute frosting, meringue, etc. Interspersed throughout the chapters are helpful hints and how-tos, such as how to ice a cake, how to use a pastry bag, etc. The recipe selection is extremely delicious (especially the cakes!) and the photographs by Jonathan Lovekin are enticing and artistic with their consistent grey backdrops. It is a gorgeous book and especially a very helpful book for the novice baker and those who are more advanced. If you're up for the lesson, this book can teach you how to bake - guaranteed!
Baking has always been easier than cooking for me. I suppose it is the careful instructions and measurements that, if followed carefully, yields the ideal result. Cooking requires more finesse. It's more about instinct than design. Martha, however, being the astute teacher that she is, was determined to teach her readers not just what to cook but how to cook in her 2008 publication, Martha Stewart's Cooking School. In what is perhaps one of the best cookbooks ever written, Martha is determined to make the reader feel so confident, and so self-assured, that any culinary challenge can be met head on. She does this using her trademark step-by-step, instructional tone, leaving no question unanswered; from how to chop an onion to how to truss a chicken, this book is overflowing with lessons for the home cook. Grouped into chapters by cooking method (roasting, broiling, braising, stewing, sautéing, steaming and poaching) Martha provides a thorough overview of each technique and answers why this method of cooking works for the foods and recipes that follow. Using this book, the cook is never left to venture blindly into the unknown. It is highly recommended for anyone new to the art of cooking and because of its scope and attention to detail, I've ranked it as a Martha must-have.

COMPANION COOKBOOKS/RUNNERS-UP


If five Martha Stewart cookbooks is just too minimalistic for your bookshelves, I've selected some companion cookbooks from Martha's library that are certainly worth adding to your collection as complements to the Big Five, above.
THE BAKING SERIES
Each one of these baking books is a gem unto itself but when combined into a series of four you've got yourself a party. New Pies & Tarts, Cupcakes, Cookies and Cakes - every baked confection you could ever dream of is found in these volumes. 
EVERYDAY FOOD: GREAT FOOD FAST
This book is the perfect book for weeknight dinners that are fast and delicious. Divided by season, it has a back-to-basics feel with recipes that take less than an hour to cook but that don't skimp on flavour. You'll find everything here from starters and sides to main courses to desserts. (The macaroni and cheese is to-die-for!)
MARTHA'S AMERICAN FOOD:
Food snobs may scoff at the idea of a cookbook devoted to American food but this book takes you on a culinary tour, from coast to coast, celebrating the regions that developed some of the most iconic American foods that are enjoyed around the world, from hamburgers and French-fries to shoofly pie! (As a Canadian, many of the foods are familiar to me but there are numerous exciting regional differences that inspire. I loved reading the backstories to many of America's signature foods).