Looking Back to Move Forward: Vol. 11 (November)

In her letter to readers in the March, 2012, issue of the magazine, Martha Stewart Living editor-in-chief Pilar Guzman makes an intriguing comment about looking back to former issues of the magazine in order to move forward. She writes: "...we will feature images on this page that inspire us from the magazine's archives. Sometimes it's important to look back in order to move forward." As a longtime subscriber, I felt like playing along! I'll be raiding the archives each month to showcase my favourite issue. Here is my selection for November.
Information. That is what I most love about the November, 1998, issue of Martha Stewart Living. There is so much of it contained in this beautiful volume. Every page offers something useful, something interesting, something factual and something inspiring. The front half of the magazine imparts helpful holiday strategies, such as a week-by-week countdown to the holidays with a checklist of what needs to be done. There is also a guide to getting pots and pans perfectly clean, preparing and organizing your desk for holiday correspondence with a perpetual calendar to record birthdays and anniversaries. There is even a guide to beautiful handwriting! We learn about trivets: their history, their uses, their materials and designs. Want to know how to make the perfect pie crust? Well, that's here too! We also learn about what drinks to serve before dinner. We don't just learn about what to serve and how to prepare these cocktails, but how and why these 'apertifs' whet our appetites before a large meal.

The back of the issue is a veritable cornucopia of inspiration and atmosphere: the Macy's Day Parade serves as the backdrop to a celebratory dinner in a turn-of-the-century Central Park apartment;  we are introduced to caramel preparation and many elegant and delicious ways to employ this sticky confection in desserts; there is a truly fascinating article on collectible silver serveware and a lulling, magical feature on something as simple and ethereal as candle light. Tartan, one of autumn's go-to fashions, is brought indoors and tailored to fit the trimmings in dining rooms, living rooms and bedrooms, bringing that luxe English feel to each of the spaces. Everything about the issue says Thanksgiving without actually saying it, which is a sign of true editorial skill: the themes, the colours and mood of the photographs, the richness of the recipes. Everything works together so perfectly, page to page to page. Below are images from the issue.

Choosing the November issue was actually very hard, since I have several favourites. The 2000 issue is wonderful. The cover alone made it a contender for Best November Issue. Only Martha Stewart would have a 50 pound solid chocolate turkey on display at her Thanksgiving party! The 2002 issue is beautifully informative and inspiring with an emphasis on family, collecting, preserving and crafting. And the 2006 issue is a nomination courtesy of David Bondarchuck, who demanded it be included this month. It is one of his favourite issues and upon looking through it at his suggestion, I have to say I concur with his assessment. Martha hosts Thanksgiving in her stables at Cantitoe Corners with stunning results and the issue is otherwise filled with festive and inspiring how-tos. Happy reading!


David Bondarchuck said...

LOL! you put that last tidbit in there because you knew I'd send you an email! LOL


LOL! Yes, David. Yes. But I do love those issues too!

Anonymous said...

I love your Looking Back to Move Forward columns. I have almost all of MS Living (including the very first!) and I re-read them, esp during the holidays. But your insight is especially welcome. I'd love it if you would continue this idea into 2013. Helps me see the past magazines in a new light.
Cheers from Alaska


Thanks, Vicki! I'm really glad you're enjoying these columns. They've been the most enjoyable posts I've written in 2012, actually. Call me nostalgic!

Anna Linda said...

Late 1998 was a great year for MSL magazine, if they could manage to make content like this once more I'd become a loyal customer again. Thanks for revisiting my favourite issue!

Frederic Kahler said...

A lovely look back at a great issue. May all our silver be wrapped in tartan this year. Happy Thanksgiving, too, on this glorious day in North America. Merci, L'Andrew !