Martha's Countdown to Christmas Begins!

Martha Stewart's newest series of how-to videos is up at MarthaStewart.com. It's her second-annual "Countdown to Christmas" series! Filmed in studio, the series of how-to videos presents instructions on how to make beautiful, handmade holiday crafts, packaging and decorations. Click here to watch them all!


Happy Thanksgiving from Martha Stewart

Join Martha Stewart in her kitchen this morning at Bedford as she prepares her turkeys for Thanksgiving! Martha and her team of busy helpers prepare two beautiful organic birds for a scrumptious dinner for 24 guests: stuffing, basting, sweet-potato soufflé, corn bread, apple pie and crudités. You'll also get to meet Truman, Martha's grandson! Click here to watch. Happy Thanksgiving from Martha Stewart and Martha Moments!


Setting the Table

Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve: between these holidays many of us will be setting quite a few tables over the next month or so. Why not try something unexpected and whimsical? With the approaching holidays in mind, I've gathered some of my favourite images of tablescapes from Pinterest, with a focus on seasonality and festivity. Each table provides a different dining experience - some formal, some more casual; some very grand and some very intimate. Have a look at the images below and tell me if you like anything you see! How will you be setting your holiday table this year? What colours will you use? What will your inspiration be?
A galvanized tray holds a grouping of pumpkins and gourds of various sizes, leafy vegetables and garden vines to make a striking centerpiece on this autumnal, Thanksgiving table. The palette is kept neutral in shades of grey with votives casually placed down the table for a pretty, light effect, adding some warmth to the cooler tones. (Image via: thedailybasics.com)
This Thanksgiving table capitalizes on a crafter's talent to great effect. Glass hurricanes are painted using the Martha Stewart Crafts line of specialty paints for glass with a pretty floral effect in gold. Gold, creams and browns are punctuated by hits of colour in the cut-out leaves that have been secured to a collection of beautifully gnarled branches that stand tall at the center of the table, creating a ''tree canopy'' over the diners. Each place setting is embellished with a gold-pumpkin place card and a printed menu. (Image via: Martha Stewart Living)
I love Ralph Lauren's dinnerware. It is so elegant and, like his apparel, can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Here, Ralph has set the table for maximum dramatic impact with lustrous blacks and golds, luminous glassware and silver serveware. The punctuation point is that hit of festive plaid in bold red and green, catching the flare of the bouquet of red roses on the table. It warms the composition and provides some casual cheer to an otherwise formal setting. (Image via: RalphLauren.com) 
A slightly more intimate gathering is kept elegant yet whimsical with gilded and silvered toy animals guarding each place setting. Clusters of small bouquets in mercury-glass vases are interspersed amongst taper candles in glass candle holders to create a linear centerpiece that visually lengthens the table. With its freshness and cheerfulness, this would be a beautiful setting for a New Year's Day brunch. (Image via: Stylemepretty.com)
Play around with napkin placement and placemat ideas. The linen napkin on the left is casually folded and cinched with a ribbon embellished with acorn tie-ons. The plate is sitting directly on the tablecloth, a decidedly modern style. On the right, the napkin is folded squarely and placed under an appetizer dish. The placemat is a piece of wood cut thinly into a square, adding rustic flare to a modern table. (Left image via: Martha Stewart Living; Right image via: Paloma81.blogspot.com)
This is a very grand table, indeed! It's also festive without shouting "Christmas!" from each and every angle. The plaette is stictly white with plenty of transparency in the glassware and glass candle sticks, bringing lightness to the woodsy room. Bowls of fruit and candlelight warm the setting. And how about those faux-fur chair liners! The modernity of the tablescape is the perfect complement to the rustic surroundings. (Image via: aesthetically-thinking.blogspot.com)
This modern, Scandinavian look is so beautiful in its bright simplicity and is actually one of the easiest effects to achieve. Keep the palette neutral and monochromatic, keep the shapes bold but clean and keep ornamentation to a minimum. The mostly grey and silver colour scheme is warmed by gold candlesticks and holiday greenery. Napkins are tied with Christmas-tree shaped gingerbread cookies. (Images via: blog.stylizimo.com)
Here is another example of a Scandinavian-inspired table setting that uses the same principles of monochromatic coordination. The light, neutral tones are extended to the single-stem Chrysanthemum arrangements that dot the tabletop. (Image via: Martha Stewart Living)
Sometimes during the holiday season it's nice to sit down with one or two good friends (or just your husband, wife and kids) to a casual kitchen dinner. I love the casual warmth of these two intimate table settings that are still elegant and beautiful without being ostentatious. (Left image via: breadandolives.tumblr.com. Right image via localmilkblog.com) 
Those of you in more temperate climates have the luxurious option of hosting your holiday gatherings outdoors! I love the drama this table evokes with its stunning 'runner' of collected mosses, antlers and flower arrangement of roses, ranunculus and proteas. The square glass dishes sit directly atop the bare wood table and the amber pedestal tumblers keep it casual. (Image via: ruffledblog.com)


Recommended Reading

As the old saying goes, "One is never alone with a book nearby." Tomas and I have a combined collection of hundreds of books - all colour-coded on plain white shelves in our living room, bedroom and kitchen. (I owe Kevin Sharkey a big thank-you for his colour-coding idea. The shelves look great with their big chunks of monochromatic spines.) I love sharing some of my finds with others so I thought I'd put together a list of books divided into three subjects that I love, and that I know a lot of you love too: decorating, cooking and gardening.
Of those three subjects I am most proficient at decorating. I have always just seemed to know what furniture should go where - and why. I just have that elusive "eye" that tells me, synaptically, how to make a room look pretty. Cooking is not something I do very often or very well, frankly, but I am a sucker for cookbooks and I have quite an extensive collection; their design, photography, styling and editing all keep me very interested. And hey, if the recipe is simple and delicious enough, I may actually try it, although I have been known to read recipes just for the sake of reading them! And when it comes to gardening, I am a total enthusiast - particularly when it comes to houseplants and flower arranging. I do not have a garden of my own but I always help my father with his gardens when I visit and love working outdoors with plants, trees and flowers.
In each section below I've tried to gather a varied assortment of books: different styles of decorating, for instance, different kinds of foods and gardening books that are either historical, biographical or practical. I've included notes on each book from the publisher to give you an indication of what each book proffers. I hope you find a volume or two to interest you, or perhaps a book you could give to a friend for Christmas! Happy reading!
SUZANNE KASLER TIMELESS SYLE: Suzanne Kasler is known for her classically inspired rooms, pretty palettes, and comfortable spaces. She brings Southern charm, European sensibility, and a respect for architectural details to her interiors. Her neutral palette, spiced with hits of color, creates warm spaces that are elegant yet inviting.
STEPHEN SILLS DECORATION: The first book to focus on the solo residential work of the visionary interior decorator Stephen Sills. Simultaneously classical and modern, Stephen Sills’s design work is a dialogue between past and present. Filled with luxurious fabrics, furnishings from across centuries, and unusual finishes, his work is polished, seemingly effortless, and quietly rich, with a muted color palette that serves as a brilliant foil for modern art.
EMILY HENSON MODERN RUSTIC: Rustic is not what it used to be. Gone are the days when rustic style meant beds made from logs, antlers above a stone fireplace and acres of tartan. At its heart, the modern rustic look celebrates the fabric of a home, from the roof beams to the brickwork. Wood, stone and steel take center stage. Forget sleek lines and immaculate finishes, this interior style revels in earthy colours and rich textures; in natural materials and the ruggedly handsome bones of a building. In this book, experienced interiors stylist Emily Henson and writer Joanna Simmons walk you through the Elements of the Modern Rustic look.
AXEL VERVOORDT LIVING WITH LIGHT: Following the best seller Axel Vervoordt: Timeless Interiors, this volume of twenty new interiors expands on the Vervoordt vision for creating exceptional homes that combine natural elements, antiques, and fine art. The art of harmonious living is extolled in this volume through twenty bespoke interiors designed by the Axel Vervoordt company. Each room incorporates natural elements—light, water, metal, wood—blended with a modern aesthetic and punctuated with fine art.
THOMAS O'BRIEN AERO: In the follow-up to the bestselling American Modern, Aero celebrates 20 years of the famed Aero design studio with an intimate look at its founder Thomas O’Brien’s design philosophy. From O’Brien’s vivid reminiscences about his early days in art school in Manhattan to the opening and development of his paired studio and store, Aero covers the history and aesthetic of this Soho, New York, landmark. Aero is where Thomas O’Brien formulated the “warm modern” look that first brought him to prominence, though his style is truly about finding modern and classic forms in many things: downtown’s industrial and artistic loft culture, the luxurious elegance of the prewar city uptown, and the essential simplicity of American country antiques and rural living.
FRANCOIS HALARD: This extravagant volume is the magnum opus of today’s most celebrated interiors photographer. One of François Halard’s first assignments, to photograph Yves Saint Laurent’s legendary Paris apartment when he was in his early twenties, cemented his reputation as one of the most original eyes of our era. His unique photographic sensibility—old-world elegant and bohemian, accessible and personal—is instantly recognizable. Thirty years later, Halard still captures our imagination with his breathtaking photographs. Included in this highly anticipated volume are Halard’s images of the glorious homes of the most important tastemakers, artists, and designers of the twentieth century: Axel Vervoordt, Roger Vivier, Richard Avedon, the Duchess of Devonshire, Julian Schnabel, Schiaparelli, Carlo Mollino, Balthus, Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, and many more, including Halard’s own homes in New York, Paris, and Arles.
FARROW & BALL DECORATING WITH COLOUR: Farrow & Ball is an iconic British brand and a great British success story. Its paints and wallpapers are used to decorate stylish homes all over the world. Following on from the best-selling Farrow and Ball Living with Colour, this book features a fabulous range of homes, all of which have been specially photographed for the book. Whether an Italian palazzo, a converted factory in Paris, the attic of an Amsterdam canal house, or a family home in Southern Germany, these are interiors to intrigue and delight, full of fresh ideas and clever ways to use paint and wallpaper. The book is divided into three main chapters: Classical, Country, and Contemporary. Under these headings, each of the 18 locations is presented as a case study. In addition, spread throughout the three chapters are ten informative Decorating Principles, containing discussion and analysis of a decorating concept that one or more of the locations illustrates particularly well. Highlighting the different effects that can be achieved with colour and pattern, the focus of the Decorating Principles is on enabling the reader to adopt and adapt these concepts and put them into practice in their own home.
THOMAS PHEASANT SIMPLY SERENE: Celebrated interior designer Thomas Pheasant is best known for his seamless melding of tradition and the contemporary. His spaces are fresh and of the age yet also enduringly timeless. Balancing classical elements, like recessed paneling, pilasters, crown moldings, and carved plaster garlands, Pheasant introduces modern details, sometimes including such flourishes and surprising complements as a scroll coffee table and a room screen of ribbed, translucent glass. Unafraid of combining pieces from various traditions, he achieves a sense of harmony and balance.
JULIE CARLSON REMODELISTA: Remodelista.com is the go-to, undisputed authority for home design enthusiasts, remodelers, architects, and designers. Unlike sites that cater to all tastes, Remodelista has a singular and clearly defined aesthetic: classic pieces trump designs that are trendy and transient, and well-edited spaces take precedence over cluttered environments. High and low mix seamlessly here, and getting the look need not be expensive (think Design Within Reach meets Ikea). Remodelista decodes the secrets to achieving this aesthetic, with in-depth tours and lessons from 12 enviable homes; a recipe-like breakdown of the hardest-working kitchens and baths; dozens of do-it-yourself projects; “The Remodelista 100,” a guide to the best everyday household objects; and an in-depth look at the ins and outs of the remodeling process. In a world of design confusion, Remodelista takes the guesswork out of the process.
BRENT RIDGE AND JOSH KILMER-PURCELL THE BEEKMAN 1802 HEIRLOOM DESSERT COOKBOOK: This book shows off the delicious and decadent recipes that the Beekman Boys have collected from across the generations of their family, from Brent’s grandmother’s Fourth of July Fruitcake to Josh’s mother’s Hot Chocolate Dumplings. Each recipe is accompanied by a personal memory from the authors or a story about how that recipe came to be. With eco-conscious and vintage-oriented food production gaining traction as a major culinary trend, this beautiful package will reel in readers, whether they’re nostalgic for some classic Americana in their kitchen or just hankering for the perfect Blackberry Betty recipe.
RICK MAST AND MICHAEL MAST MAST BROTHERS CHOCOLATE A FAMILY COOKBOOK: The Mast Brothers are pioneers of the bean-to-bar craft chocolate movement. Sourcing cocoa with unique flavor profiles from around the equator, they roast the beans in small batches to create truly handmade chocolate, one of the very few chocolate makers to do so. At their flagship factory and retail shop in Brooklyn, their distinctive bars are wrapped in exquisite custom papers that they have designed and are sold at specialty food shops around the country and around the world. In this book they share their unique story and recipes for classic American desserts like chocolate cookies and cakes, brownies, bars, milkshakes, and even home-made whoopie pie. There are mouthwatering savory dishes as well, like Pan-seared Scallops with Cocoa Nibs and Cocoa Coq au Vin. With striking color photographs throughout, this cookbook celebrates the vision and allure of Mast Brothers Chocolate, the leaders of the American craft chocolate movement and the choice of the world's great chefs.

MELISSA ELSEN AND EMILY ELSEN THE FOUR AND TWENTY BLACKBIRDS PIE BOOK: From the proprietors of the renowned Brooklyn shop and cafe comes the ultimate pie-baking book for a new generation of bakers. Melissa and Emily Elsen, the twenty-something sisters who are proprietors of the wildly popular Brooklyn pie shop and cafe Four & Twenty Blackbirds, have put together a pie-baking book that's anything but humble. This stunning collection features more than 60 delectable pie recipes organized by season, with unique and mouthwatering creations such as Salted Caramel Apple, Green Chili Chocolate, Black Currant Lemon Chiffon, and Salty Honey. There is also a detailed and informative techniques section.

MATT WILKINSON MR. WILKINSON'S VEGETABLES: This lush, creative cookbook celebrates the flavor and versatility of vegetables by bringing them to the center of the table in more than 80 delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes. The recipes in Mr. Wilkinson's Vegetables range from simple salads such as Brussels Sprout Leaves, Mozzarella, and Anchovies, or Roasted Cucumber, Quinoa, Freekah, and Herbs, to hearty dishes such as Soft Parmesan Polenta with Crab and Mussels, or Braised Eggplant, Tomato, and Meatballs. They also include satisfying snacks like Irene's Tzatziki, or Smoked Tomato and Goat's Curd Gougéres, as well as desserts, such as Carrot Cake with Grated Carrot, Preserved Lemon, Raisin, and Ginger Pickle, or Creamed Rice Pudding. While many of the 80 plus dishes will appeal to vegetarians, there are plenty that incorporate meat. In all of them, Mr. Wilkinson's vegetables are the stars.
CHAD ROBERTSON TARTINE BREAD: For the home or professional bread-maker, this is the book of the season. It comes from a man many consider to be the best bread baker in the United States: Chad Robertson, co-owner of Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, a city that knows its bread. To Chad, bread is the foundation of a meal, the center of daily life, and each loaf tells the story of the baker who shaped it. He developed his unique bread over two decades of apprenticeship with the finest artisan bakers in France and the United States, as well as experimentation in his own ovens. Readers will be astonished at how elemental it is. A hundred photographs from years of testing, teaching, and recipe development provide step-by-step inspiration, while additional recipes provide inspiration for using up every delicious morsel.
NATHAN WILLIAMS THE KINFOLK TABLE: Kinfolk magazine—launched to great acclaim and instant buzz in 2011—is a quarterly journal about understated, unfussy entertaining. The journal has captured the imagination of readers nationwide, with content and an aesthetic that reflect a desire to go back to simpler times; to take a break from our busy lives; to build a community around a shared sensibility; and to foster the endless and energizing magic that results from sharing a meal with good friends.Now there’s The Kinfolk Table, a cookbook from the creators of the magazine, with profiles of 45 tastemakers who are cooking and entertaining in a way that is beautiful, uncomplicated, and inexpensive. Each of these home cooks—artisans,bloggers, chefs, writers, bakers, crafters—has provided one to three of the recipes they most love to share with others, whether they be simple breakfasts for two, one-pot dinners for six, or a perfectly composed sandwich for a solo picnic.
BRIAN VAN FLANDERN CRAFT COCKTAILS: The long awaited companion book to Assouline s award-winning Vintage Cocktails, Craft Cocktails explores the new golden age of the cocktail as culinary art form. World-renowned mixologist Brian Van Flandern shares some of his famous recipes conceived while working as the head mixologist for Michelin three-star chef Thomas Keller at Per Se in New York. Additionally, Van Flandern has collected recipes from some of the best craft cocktail lounges in the city. From garnishes and glassware to temperature and balance, Van Flandern provides informative tips for consistently making beautiful and delectable cocktails at home. With easy-to-follow recipes, tricks of the trade, and gorgeous photography, this book is a must-have for every swank host and aspiring mixologist.
MARTHA STEWART CAKES: A one-stop resource for cakes--birthday, chocolate, coffee, Bundt, upside-down, loaf, and more. From pound cake and angel food (with many variations) to genoise and streusel-topped, from comfort classics like red velvet, six-layer coconut, rich chocolate, lemon meringue, and cheesecake to sophisticated grown-up fare including chiffon cakes and tortes with luscious fruits, these 150 recipes and color photographs cover techniques, decorating, and gifting ideas for every taste and occasion, whether no-fuss or fancy.
Pure Vegan proves that embracing a vegan lifestyle can be stylish and beautiful via 70 recipes that are both plant-based and indulgent. The only vegan cookbook that celebrates eating and enjoyment rather than emphasizing the politics of a vegan lifestyle, this beautiful compilation features novel, vivacious recipes. Yes, they're non-meat-egg-dairy, and they're fabulous! Pure ingredients and unique combinations appeal to meat lovers and committed vegans alike. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks are represented, and a special chapter is dedicated to late-night indulgences such as chocolate truffles and herbal cocktails. Seventy-five gorgeous pictures round out this fetching package.

NGOC MINH NGO BRINGING NATURE HOME: Unlike most flower-arrangement books, which rely on expensive and often nonseasonal flowers from florists, this book presents an alternative that is in line with the “back to nature” movement. This is the first volume to showcase how to be inspired by nature’s seasonal bounty and bring that nature into the home through floral arrangements. From the well-known lifestyle photographer Ngoc Minh Ngo and Nicolette Owen of Brooklyn’s Little Flower School, Bringing Nature Home presents a portfolio of unique and original floral arrangements directly inspired by the seasons and the local environment, with sources ranging from farmers’ market offerings to the backyard garden.

ERIC PIASECKI LA FORMENTERA: In the 1970s, renowned interior designer Juan Montoya lived on La Formentera, a Balearic Island off the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Later, near Garrison, New York, Montoya acquired land and built his place of solace, his own La Formentera. He fulfilled his dream of a property that could evoke the same majesty of that island’s rocky terrain, without the Mediterranean climate. The retreat is made up of an elegantly simple Japanese-style house and 100 acres of pristine landscape, shaped by Montoya himself. Setting out on the paths, one encounters massive stone sculptures, an inviting pool complex, and rustic shelters made of rough stone. A rushing brook runs through the property, and empties into a lake with a small island where thousands of daffodils bloom in the spring. La Formentera is the perfect refuge for Montoya, whose credo is, “I want to be surrounded by beauty and creativity.”

DAVID L. CULP THE LAYERED GARDEN: Brandywine Cottage is David Culp's beloved two-acre Pennsylvania garden where he mastered the design technique of layering — interplanting many different species in the same area so that as one plant passes its peak, another takes over. The result is a nonstop parade of color that begins with a tapestry of heirloom daffodils and hellebores in spring and ends with a jewel-like blend of Asian wildflowers at the onset of winter. The Layered Garden shows you how to recreate Culp's majestic display. It starts with a basic lesson in layering — how to choose the correct plants by understanding how they grow and change throughout the seasons, how to design a layered garden, and how to maintain it. To illustrate how layering works, Culp takes you on a personal tour through each part of his celebrated garden: the woodland garden, the perennial border, the kitchen garden, the shrubbery, and the walled garden. The book culminates with a chapter dedicated to signature plants for all four seasons.

BARBARA PAUL ROBINSON ROSEMARY VEREY THE LIFE LESSONS OF A LEGENDARY GARDENER: Rosemary Verey was the last of the great English garden legends. Although she embraced gardening late in life, she quickly achieved international renown. She was the acknowledged apostle of the "English style," on display at her home at Barnsley House, the "must have" adviser to the rich and famous, including Prince Charles and Elton John, and a beloved and wildly popular lecturer in America. A child of a generation born between the two World Wars, she could have easily lived a predictable and comfortable life, devoted to her family, church, and horses, but a devastating accident changed her life, and with her architect-husband, she went on to create the gardens at their home that became a mandatory stop on every garden tour in the 1980s and 1990s. At sixty-two, she wrote her first book, followed by seventeen more in twenty years. Her husband's death, shortly after her career began, added a financial imperative to her ambition. By force of character, hard work, and determination, she tirelessly promoted herself and her garden lessons, traveling worldwide to lecture, sell books, and strengthen her network.

KYOTO WADA ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FLOWERS: Flowers have been a universal cultural object for millennia. They are an important aesthetic element in everyday life worldwide, and have played a highly symbolic role in art throughout the ages. Over the past few years, Makoto Azuma has created a furor in the art world with his floral installations, in which he creates unusual new shapes from plants and flowers and their component parts. Inspired by the Japanese tradition of ikebana--the art of flower arranging--Azuma creates novel and previously unseen aesthetics by bringing together unusual plants that wouldn't usually meet in nature--some of them exotic --in extraordinary arrangements. Shunsuke Shiinoki, who opened the "haute-couture" florists Jardin des Fleurs in Tokyo in 2002 in association with Makoto Azuma, captured these exceptional floral installations in extraordinary photographs.

JUDITH TANKARD GERTRUDE JEKYLL AND THE COUNTRY HOUSE GARDEN: This is the first book in over two decades devoted to the most important garden designer of the twentieth century. Gertrude Jekyll (1843–1932) laid the basis for modern garden design and is credited with popularizing an informal, naturalistic look in counterpoint to the rigid, formal landscapes of the Victorian era. Her collaboration with Edwin Lutyens produced seminal garden masterpieces of the Arts & Crafts movement, including Hestercombe and Folly Farm. Also known as a prolific and influential writer, Jekyll contributed more than a hundred articles to Country Life and designed three gardens for the publication’s founder, Edward Hudson. As a result, the Country Life archive has an unrivaled record of her work. This book includes a combination of both archival black-and-white and contemporary color photographs highlighting a selection of the more than 350 gardens Jekyll created. The book is organized in four sections and then concludes with an extensive bibliography and index.

ANDREW ZUCKERMAN FLOWER: In this latest collection, Andrew Zuckerman, beloved photographer of Creature and Bird, moves from fauna to flora, turning his lens onto the most beautiful specimens of the plant kingdom. Spectacular close-up images of 150 flower species, both exotic and familiar, are lovingly captured in Zuckerman's bold yet sensitive signature style. Showcased against pure white backgrounds, the complexity of color and structure in each specimen is revealed—creating flower portraits of astonishing radiance and detail. Zuckerman's award-winning minimalism serves as the perfect foil for these lush natural wonders. A rich visual tour of nature's most beloved beauties, this substantial tome is a timeless treasure for flower lovers, garden enthusiasts, photography buffs, and collectors of Zuckerman's work.

SARAH RAVEN WILDFLOWERS: In a new, practical format - the stunning book celebrating British wild flowers by award-winning garden writer Sarah Raven. Inspired by childhood excursions with her botanist father, Sarah Raven has travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles to find 500 of Britain's most breathtakingly beautiful wild flowers. This lavishly illustrated book is divided by habitat, covering woods, downs and dales, lanes and hedgerows, meadows, coast, marshes and streams, moors and mountains, and wasteland. Sarah introduces a wide range of plants, telling you their names and something about them. Discover pulsatillas, fritillaries, bluebells, wild garlic, harebells, forget-me-nots, foxgloves, wood spurge, silverweed,purple cranesbill, deadly nightshade, St John's wort, comfrey, orchids,wood sorrel, snowdrops and more.

TOVAH MARTIN THE UNEXPECTED HOUSEPLANT: The Unexpected Houseplant, by renowned plant authority Tovah Martin, isn't your typical, old-fashioned, dowdy houseplant book. Martin's approach is revolutionary—picture brilliant spring bulbs by the bed, lush perennials brought in from the garden, quirky succulents in the kitchen, even flowering vines and small trees growing beside an easy chair. Along with loads of visual inspiration, readers will learn how to make unusual selections, where to best position plants in the home, and valuable tips on watering, feeding, grooming, pruning, and troubleshooting, season by season.


Martha's Countdown to Christmas Starts Next Week!

Be sure to visit MarthaStewart.com on November 29th for the first of a series of videos called Countdown to Christmas. Hosted by Martha, and designed to help you prepare for the holiday season, these all-new videos will reveal Martha's best ideas for holiday decorating, giftwrapping, festive crafts and more! I really enjoyed last year's series of the same name. It was so great to see Martha in her kitchen, making beautiful things with her guests. I'm hoping the series was filmed at Bedford, as it was last year, but we'll have to tune in next Friday to find out for sure! Click here to watch some of last year's webisodes.


The December Issue

While I haven't received my copy in the mail yet, the December issue of Martha Stewart Living is now on newsstands and available for download on the iPad. There are two covers this year. Shown on the left is the iPad edition and on the right is the newsstand version. They are both very different but I like them both. December is usually one of my favourite issues of the year so I'm really looking forward to browsing through its pages and being inspired! Let me know what you think of the covers!


The Mighty Pomegranate

The other day, I was editing all of the photographs that are stored on my computer, sorting through photos I no longer needed or wanted. I deleted over 1,300 images and Photoshop files, amounting to nearly 3GB of space on my hard drive! (Yes, I'm an image hoarder.) In one of the folders, I came upon this photograph of a pomegrante that I took in 2008 and it brought me back to the very day I took the shot. It is nostalgic for me because this was the first pomegranate that I had ever bought for myself, and it was precisely because of Martha Stewart that I purchased it: a great Martha Moment! I had seen pomegranates in my grandparents' homes growing up but I never really paid any attention to them, not fully appreciating their unusual good looks, unique taste and health benefits. I had seen Martha make something with pomegranates on her show that chilly November morning in 2008 and I vowed, then and there, to finally buy one of these strange fruits for myself. I was so inspired by its size and shape that I decided to photograph it using my first digital camera for posterity. You can see more from that "photo shoot" here.
Pomegranates are packed with health benefits. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C and the seeds from one pomegrante contain more potassium than 12 bananas! They are also filled with anti-oxidants. Pomegranates are native to the Mediterranean but the Spanish began growing them as crops in California over 200 years ago. Today, the San Joaquin Valley, in the heart of California, has the only concentration of commercially-grown pomegranates in North America.. Click here to see all the ways Martha has used these amazing fruits.


Good Things come in Pretty Packages!

Outside my window the sky is the colour of ice and nearly all of the leaves have fluttered off their branches. It won't be long before the ground is covered in a layer of white, fluffy snow or before the street lamps that line my street are decorated with pine boughs and ribbons. Now, in these brief but relatively quiet weeks before the holiday hullabaloo, is the time to start preparing for the holidays: writing out your shopping lists, guest lists, greeting-card lists and menu planning all begin in earnest this month. The holiday packaging by Martha Stewart Crafts is always the perfect place to start for me and this year they have even more beautiful treat bags to fill with your own sweet confections for loved-ones, friends and colleagues. Below are some examples. All are now available at Michael's stores across the U.S. and Canada.
Sweet treats deserve a sweet wrapping, do they not? Snowflake Cellophane Treat Bags add a festive and wintery touch to special holiday treats. The package contains six cellophane bags; six paper inserts; six labels and six ribbons. 
Frost your holiday treats with wintery elegance with these die-cut treat boxes. Wrap your homemade treats in festive, holiday-inspired wrapping that will be sure to delight. The package contains six paper treat cones; six tags and six pieces of ribbon.   
The decorative winter tree treat boxes transform homemade treats into festive party favors or holiday gifts. Such a cute and shapely design! The package contains six boxes; six adhesive labels; six pieces of ribbon and 36 sheets of tissue paper.
Enfold your treats in beautiful Snowflake Cellophane Treat Bags. Clear cellophane treat bags are perfect for displaying delicious goodies inside. The package contains six cellophane bags; six paper inserts; six labels and six ribbons.
These icicle-shaped bags turn homemade treats into fun and festive party favors or holiday gifts. The package contains six paper treat cones (three with snowflake design and three with "Noel" motif); six cellophane bags; six tags and six pieces of ribbon.
Perfect for stashing your favorite holiday treats or gifts for friends and family, the Peppermint Winter Fabric Treat Bags by Martha Stewart Crafts come in a set of six. 
I love this heavy-duty paper trimmer and have always wanted one for my home office. You can cut up to three sheets of 12x12 cardstock at once! Features include a paper lock that holds sheets in place for straight, accurate cuts; an alignment guide for repetitive cutting; gridlines and popular card-size references for easy measuring; and a finger guard and handle lock for added safety. Sleek and lightweight, this trimmer is a perfect addition to any craft room or office.


Martha's New Laundry Storage Products at Home Decorators

I enjoy doing laundry. There, I said it. I know I'm not alone, either, because new home design trends indicate that large, functional laundry rooms are still top of the list for home buyers. I suppose there is something meditative about doing laundry: fresh, clean scents, the idea of cleaning and caring for the fabrics that surround us, drying and carefully folding our clothes and linens and ironing what needs to be ironed. Martha Stewart has always been a great proponent of doing laundry well: keeping the process organized and streamlined. Her new line of laundry storage products at Home Decorators offers a wide range of laundry-room storage units, including cupboads and shelves, baskets and hampers. My favourite, however, is the Laundry Storage Laundry Cart.  It makes staying organized easy with an ironing board and pad, stainless steel trays for laundry accessories and wheels for mobility. The ironing board lifts off, allowing the whole top to be used as an ironing surface. Drawers and shelves can store detergents and stain-removal products, sewing kits and lint brushes. Wheels also lock for stability, and an overhead bar makes hanging laundry convenient. It's sort of Laundry Command Central! Below is the laundry cart plus two hampers from the collection, indlucing one that can be braced inside a closet with a removable tote. Smart thinking!


New Special Issue: Martha Stewart Real Weddings

As I've noted before, I will occasionally pick up a copy of Martha Stewart Weddings just for inspiration. I have been married for six years to my partner, Tomas, and have no interest in planning anyone else's wedding. But the Weddings magazine is always such a treasure trove of ideas for flower arranging, cake decorating, table setting, crafting and general entertaining that it's difficult to resist. In this special issue, the second "Real Weddings" edition this year, actual weddings are documented from start to finish in locations as diverse as Michigan and Mexico. One such wedding is the marriage of Martha Stewart's niece, Sophie Herbert, to her husband Dan Slater in Las Vegas. Martha was in attendance and helped plan the wedding details, including Sophie's beautiful bouquet. Martha used a photograph of her sister Laura's wedding bouquet and commissioned an artist to replicate it using clay. Collectors of Martha Stewart's special issue magazines will want to add this one to their collections but anyone interested in throwing a beautiful party will benefit from the ideas in its glossy pages. It is on newsstands now until January 27th.


Curating a Heritage Home

Everyone who reads this blog, or has an interest in Martha Stewart, also has an interest in homekeeping. Do we not cherish our homes and apartments and want to fill them with beautiful, useful items that make our lives more pleasant and practical? A longtime Martha Moments reader - and a good friend of mine - has recently started a new online business that I'm so excited to share with you. David Pantoja, host of the Good Things By David blog, has called the venture Heritage Home and it is based on the principles of providing quality home goods designed and built by American craftsmen and artisans - handmade, beautifully finished and affordable.
I consider David to be my Martha by Mail expert and I always defer to his expertise when I have a question about a Martha by Mail product; he has a vast assortment of products from the Martha by Mail catalog and keeps them in excellent condition. One of his passions is cookie cutters, especially copper ones. As part of Heritage Home, David partnered with Michael Bonne to create his own unique copper cookie-cutter designs. This is very exciting because Michael Bonne was the craftsman behind the original Martha by Mail copper cookie cutters, which are now extremely collectible. You will not find these designs anywhere else and you will have the knowledge that they are handcrafted in the United States by an artisan who prides himself on quality and also has Martha Stewart's seal of approval! Shown below is the Heritage Bee and Hive Cookie Cutter Set, which also comes with a how-to decorating card, complete instructions and recipes.
Another one of David's partners is Michael Laico, who made these custom cutting boards for Heritage Home, shown below. A big fan of Michael's cutting boards is Ina Garten and I'm told she has his boards in her East Hampton kitchen. The boards are made of American maple and walnut. David loves their versatility:
"A good cutting board belongs in every kitchen. Hardwood is my favorite surface for prepping ingredients every single day, because it is gentle on my kitchen knives. It helps if one has at least two cutting boards in the kitchen. Use one for savory food preparation and one for baking & desserts. However, if you enjoy entertaining guests on a regular basis, you may want to have multiple boards for cheese tastings, hors d'oeuvres, wine tastings and dessert displays. Small boards can be used to serve a sliced bundt cake or loaf cake, but they can also be used to serve a variety of cheeses, nuts & honeys for a special dinner. Larger boards can hold sliced breads, baguettes and any number of hors d'oeuvres when entertaining crowds. If your kitchen countertops are made from a porous material such as marble, you will want to protect them from spills when pouring wine with a nice cutting board."
Many of us also remember the wonderful spice rack that was featured in Martha's Westport studio kitchen on her television show. It's step-tiered feature made it quite unique. Now, David is working with craftsman Nick Stein to sell a new version of this famous spice rack, made of maple and painted in exclusive colours. The rack comes with 30 Heritage Home labeled spice tins, ready to be filled with your own spices. Hang it from a wall in the kitchen or keep it on the counter next to your prep area. It fits under most standard cabinetry. The rack measures 26 x 3.5 x 16. The first photo, below, shows the spice rack in Parkany Stone Barn - a colour that David created based on the exact shade of the barn on his property in Pensylvania. The other colour is called Weathervane Verdigris, another exclusive colour that David designed. I love how these racks look!

The former Homekeeping editor of Martha Stewart Living magazine, Peter Mars, who now has a textile company called Arnge, also provided two of his pillow designs to Heritage Home, which you can see below. Each 17"x17" pillow is made one at a time by a skilled American craftsman using the finest 100% cotton poplin. The poly-fiber insert keeps the pillow lofty and the hand-stuffed edges maintain the pillow's shape. The patterns shown are Dragonfly and Golden Fossil.
One of David's favourite coffee vendors is Chestnut Hill Coffee Co., a Philadelphia-based roastery. It's the brand David brews every morning at home. David is pleased to be able to offer two of his favourite blends - House Blend and Espresso Blend - to his Heritage Home customers.

David is also a skilled collector and has a great eye for quality. Heritage Home will offer one-of-a-kind collectibles that David has sourced exclusively for Heritage Home, such as this set of four Martha by Mail Jadeite flower pots.Collaborating with David on the cookie-cutter sets is another Martha Moments reader, Janet Cooper-Bridge, who runs the blog Oui, Sugar. Janet only recently started selling some of her favourite finds, including copper cookie-cutter designs that were crafted by Michael Bonne, who made the Martha by Mail copper cookie-cutter sets. Janet's designs are extremely adorable. She also offers a cookie decorating kit as well as a Recipes & Cookie Decorating Guide that looks like lots of fun. Below is a shot of Janet's copper cookie cutters and the finished product, all wrapped and ready! Visit her shop to see more!It's my hope that these two friends will be successful since I know how hard David and Janet have worked on bringing some of their designs and favourite things to the marketplace. Please take some time to visit their stores: Heritage Home and Oui, Sugar!