Friday, January 30, 2009

A Wonderful Look at Martha Stewart Living

Take a look at the video that was prepared and presented last evening as Martha was inducted into the ASME Magazine Editor's Hall of Fame. It's a wonderful look at Living...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shelter Magazines Dropping Like Flies

On Wednesday of this week, Conde Nast Publications announced that Domino, the shopping and home decor magazine will cease publication with its March issue.

In the last year, magazines Blueprint, (a Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia publication), InStyle Home, O at Home, Cottage Living, Country Home, and Home magazine have all ceased publication due to a sharp decline in advertising dollars. In 2007, Vogue Living and House and Garden closed their publishing doors.

I can't help but mourn the loss of these magazines and fear for the future of others.

With the economy is a downward spiral that just doesn't seem to end, advertisers are cutting back on their spending. Not a good thing for magazines who need that advertising to survive. In a recent interview with Media Post, Martha eluded to the struggles experienced with the decrease in advertising dollars:

" We’ve never had a downturn before except for when I was involved in that horrible lawsuit. Our customers have been there, buying the magazine. This is really an advertising problem for magazines, and it’s also an expendable income problem. When people are standing there with a finite amount of cash in their pocketbook, do they buy magazines at the newsstand? That said, we have fared moderately OK. We’re kind of fortunate in the fact that we’re an omnimedia company, so we’re able to offer advertising in magazines and radio, on television and on the Internet, and we also have retail partners. And that model has proven to be the model everyone wants to emulate now."

To have Martha indicate that the company fared 'moderately Ok,' certainly indicates MSLO has felt the advertising dollar pinch as well. Looking at recent issues of Martha Stewart Living, you can see the decrease in pages... a clear indication of advertising troubles.

What can we as consumers do? Our options are limited but it's important to support the advertisers that do spend their budgets on MSLO publications. Buy the products (when possible) and communicate with the companies and let them know you saw them in one of the MSLO magazines. If they can begin to see an interest and a return on their investment, they are more likely to spend dollars with the publication.

I can't even imagine NOT having Martha Stewart Living magazine. Let's just hope that MSLO can weather this storm. They've done it once and came back with great success. They need to pull on that strength once again.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Make it a Crafting Weekend...

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, set aside some time this weekend to craft a message of love for that special someone in your life with Martha Stewart Crafts.

The Valentine's Day collection includes punches, blank cards, a stamp set, glitter, and a variety of stickers to create the perfect card.

The craft items are available at Michael's as well as Wal-Mart stores throughout the US and Canada.

Hallmark cards don't always say what you want to say on a special day like Valentine's Day - so make sure your loved one knows just how you feel by making your own card they will remember for years to come!

MSLO Not Publishing an "Outdoor Living" Issue This Year

Several friends and readers have inquired about the publication of an "Outdoor Living" special issue this year. Sadly, MSLO will not be producing this special issue for 2009.

While no explanation was given as to 'why' the issue isn't being produced, it would be easy to speculate that the weak economy has led to this decision.

I loved the first two issues of Outdoor Living and it's unfortunate that the company will not be publishing one this year. We can only hope for it's return when our economy can once again support it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Martha's in Your Closet!

The Martha Stewart Collection available at Macy's, has expanded to include a new line of merchandise: Martha Stewart's Closet Shop.

Now showing on Macy's website, Martha Stewart's Closet Shop features several different items that will help you keep your closet organized and help you store those seasonal clothing and bedding items.

Items in the new line follow the signature taupe and teal color scheme (a personal favorite of mine!) and include fabric storage boxes in three sizes, an over the door shoe bag, a hanging sweater shelf, a garment bag and hangers in various styles.

Storage boxes in three sizes

Fabric garment bag and thin velvet hangers


To view the items in Martha Stewart's Closet Shop, visit Macy's online store.

Petkeeping Website Coming

In an interview that appears in today's St. Petersburg Times, Martha Stewart shared the company plans for a new petkeeping website.

"We're building a pet-keeping Web site. We've done a lot of segments on the TV show and a little bit in the magazine about pets, and they are always really popular. We are really going after that segment of viewers. "

Martha Stewart Living Radio (Sirius-XM channels 112 and 157) has daily petkeeping shows that are highly popular. It makes sense that MSLO would extend the presence of petkeeping on the Internet.

While Martha gave no further details as to a go live date or the content of the website, it would be easy to speculate that the MSLO petkeeping experts will be regular contributors to the site.

Can Martha Stewart branded pet food, leashes, dog collars and cat toys be far behind?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's All Good: Spotlight on Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart expounds on the future of her company and the magazine industry

With her attention to detail and exacting standards, Martha Stewart built an eponymous media empire dedicated to the pursuit of perfection in the home. Her flagship magazine Martha Stewart Living broke the mold of women’s magazines, while her portfolio grew to encompass TV, satellite radio, Internet and household products. Stewart staged a successful comeback following her conviction and imprisonment in connection with the ImClone Systems stock sale case in 2004. Despite stepping down as director and chief creative officer, Stewart remains active at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia as it’s expanded its presence at retail, in books, online and more. Mediaweek senior editor Lucia Moses chatted with Stewart on the eve of her induction into the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame on Jan. 29.

How does this downturn compare with earlier ones you’ve seen?

We’ve never had a downturn before except for when I was involved in that horrible lawsuit. Our customers have been there, buying the magazine. This is really an advertising problem for magazines, and it’s also an expendable income problem. When people are standing there with a finite amount of cash in their pocketbook, do they buy magazines at the newsstand? That said, we have fared moderately OK. We’re kind of fortunate in the fact that we’re an omnimedia company, so we’re able to offer advertising in magazines and radio, on television and on the Internet, and we also have retail partners. And that model has proven to be the model everyone wants to emulate now.

Do you see a permanent change in the way people shop and consume?

I think people realize they can get along with a lot less. I’ve always been a careful shopper myself. I think that’s what people are realizing, that that is what they have to do. We’re lucky in that we make really high-quality merchandise for Macy’s; our sales there are really strong. And our mass-market business at Kmart has been strong. We’ve had two best-selling books this year, and we were lucky in that it came at a time when people stopped going to restaurants.

How do you adjust the magazine’s message for the times?

It’s not making it more simple, it’s not dumbing it down, it’s making it smarter and smarter. We have very sophisticated readers. We never, never, talk down to our readers. You just have to be smart about how you do it. [The cupcakes in the February issue] are not complicated, they’re easy, they’re delicious. That’s one way to make a simple dessert.

MSLO had an upscale women’s magazine in the works, but that was put on ice when the economy took a downward turn. Would you still start a magazine today?
We still have great interest in it because there’s a slew of women coming of age in the next five years who—hopefully, after this fiscal crisis—will have expendable income. This magazine really addressed that woman. So it’s basically on ice. If we do it online or as a tactile magazine, who knows? But the idea is excellent.

Would it have to meet different criteria?

Oh, definitely. We have to figure out how to give information in a way that’s accessible to the Internet user now. It is a conundrum. I don’t think people are going to stop looking at beautiful pictures all at once. I hope there’s going to be sort of a pause in what’s been going on so we can readjust our habits. There are a lot of blogs out there. What the heck are we going to do—read blogs all day long and not do anything? Or have a nice dinner with friends?

With all the extensions Martha Stewart has gone into, where do you see the brand going next?

I think we have a huge opportunity on the Internet, of content distribution and community and sharing, despite all the things I just said about the Internet. We have vast amounts of well-researched and well-written content. We want to have that in accessible form.

Were you surprised about the magazine’s comeback following your legal ordeal?

I wasn’t surprised at all. I really believe in our customers and I believe they’re intelligent human beings. I’m surprised more aren’t avid customers, that they’ll settle for what I think is less good information. I would’ve thought instead of having 12 [million] to 14 million readers, we’d have more than that. I always thought Martha Stewart Living would be more like National Geographic in its heyday.

Other thoughts, as you consider the future of the magazine industry?

I have never lived through this all, this economic disaster we’re experiencing. I have hope in our new administration. I like what I see so far. [President Obama] is a book reader and avid consumer of information, and he’s literate. And I think that will rub off on a lot of people.
This interview appeared in the January 25, 2009 edition of MediaWeek magazine, written by Lucia Moses

Monday, January 19, 2009

Welcome Mr. President

In my lifetime, I've never experienced such energy and excitement around the transition of power from one President to another. With great hope, great anticipation, and great joy, this country welcomes a new day.

While great significance is being placed on President Obama being the first African-American President (and it is significant!), I see today as a true renewal of our country; a country that I truly do love.

We, as Americans are being called into service as we face a great many challenges. It's a call that has not rang out in this country for years. It is up to each one of us to serve our country, next to our President and 'fix' what has been broken.

Today, we welcome our new President with open arms and great hope. Today, I, as a gay man in America feel less of a second class citizen. I feel as though perhaps, just perhaps our country is realizing a dream that Martin Luther King, Jr. had.. that one day we will not be judged by the color of our skin (or many other factors for that matter) but by the content of our character.

Welcome, Mr. President. Welcome.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Come, Sit on the Patio...

My friend Mike visited his local Kmart in Spokane, WA and sent an email to let me know that the garden department was beginning to gear up for the season.

As I read his email this morning, the windchill here is -25 degrees, a winter weather advisory is in effect for the day with snow expected by afternoon. A glimpse at patio furniture gives me hope that this winter 'stuff' won't last forever!

Mike scanned a few pages of the Kmart publication "Everyday Getaway" which features several collections that will be available at Kmart this year, including Martha Stewart Everyday.

Martha-philes may want to browse the aisles for their favorites... this will be the last year for Martha at Kmart with the contract expiring January 1, 2010 and no signs of any renewal.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Additions to Jadeite

I was thrilled to come home today and find a package on my doorstep. My friends Chris and Dan, who are now vacationing in the south sent me a set of six terrific jadeite finds to add to my collection: FireKing restaurantware luncheon sets!
Each set consists of a chili bowl (which of course could be used for any soup) and a small plate for a sandwich. The bowl sits in it's own little spot on the plate. They are just beautiful and will be put to great use as 'soup season' continues!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tracie Hotchner Appearing on the Martha Show

Tracie Hotchner, pet expert, author and host of Martha Stewart Living Radio's "Cat Chat" (Sirius channel 112, XM channel 157) will appear on the Martha Show Friday, January 16. Tracie and Martha will be discussing cat breeds and audience members will be able to ask their pet questions during an 'Ask Tracie' segment.

Tracie joined the Martha Stewart Living Radio family just over two years ago (Cat Chat is now in its third year on the air) and is one of the highest rated shows on the channel.

Listeners enjoy a variety of informative guests and can call in with their pet care questions. One of the most popular guests, pet communicator Ann Marie Sawicki makes a monthly visit to the show, jamming up the phone lines for the entire hour!

I became familiar with Tracie shortly after "Cat Chat" began when I caught a replay of the show. I was struck by her 'no nonsense' personality and her philosophy (based on expert research) of pet care. I was instantly hooked! Tracie has been a tremendous help to David and I as we raise our four cats and sometimes face health or behavioral issues. We adore her!

Tracie has so much to offer people with pets. If you're a dog owner, you must own "The Dog Bible" and if you're a cat owner "The Cat Bible." Both books are encyclopedia's of care for your four-legged family member. You can also listen to Tracie on NPR radio station WLIU out of Southampton College, New York where she hosts "Dog Talk, The Radio Show." Podcasts of "Dog Talk" are available.

For more information on Tracie, "Cat Chat," "Dog Talk," and more, log into her website at
Photo of Tracie Hotchner courtesy of Randy Productions. Cat Chat and Dog Talk are registered trademarks of 8 Paws LLC.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Oh No, Not Sandra Lee...

I just read an article with riveting news: Food Network Star and generally irritating Sandra Lee is producing her own magazine titled "Sandra Lee: Semi Homemade."

Lee, who built her franchise on the 70/30 rule; 70 percent ready-made products with 30 percent fresh ingredients said on a recent visit to the company who will print the magazine, that she always wanted to produce her own magazine after thumbing through an issue of Martha Stewart Living in 1992. "I thought to myself, I can do this, and do it cheaper..."

Cheaper, indeed.

Now, I cannot deny that Ms. Lee has a huge following out there in Food Network land. She has a successful television show and has been very successful as an author of several cookbooks. That being said, I cannot get over how irritating her on camera persona is and I find her difficult at best to stomach.

With movements in the kitchen that are as stiff as a freshly starched shirt, and her lack of natural conversation with the camera makes me immediately turn the channel on one of my favorite networks. I've even paid attention to her knife skills... they need work.

I'm sure Ms. Lee is a lovely person... in person. But please.. Sandra.. let's talk a moment about your set design, shall we? Is it necessary, for every show, to have your sweater set match the mixer, that matches the shelf liner, that matches the swath of fabric over your kitchen window, that matches the gi-normous floral arrangement which teeters on the edge of the counter?? Is it necessary to have 'tablescapes' that are so over the top that guests cannot see each other during dinner? Too much. I always feel like the theme for the tablescape is "we'll just try the 1980's once again.."

I can't say I will even give the magazine a chance. I can only guess that the center section of the magazine will be devoted to these over the top tablescapes... a fold out section for sure... like tablescape porn. I don't need 'helpful, easy recipes' on how to fill my diet with way too much sodium, MSG, and other chemicals. I'd rather try to be a bit more healthy.

I do give Ms. Lee some credit though. Her desire to create a magazine was inspired by Martha. At least she has good taste in inspiration.

February Issue Arrives

I get a little irritated when my new issue of Martha Stewart Living arrives in the mail damaged. As you can see from the photo, the entire upper spine area of the magazine was damaged. Not acceptable!

Despite the damage, the February issue of Living once again brings us sweet treats and ideas for Valentine's Day. The heart of mini chocolate cupcakes with a rainbow inspired theme for frosting colors (Kevin's influence here?) is just a sneak peek into 15 new cupcake recipes found inside.

Charming Valentine's Day gifts and card ideas, hearty winter suppers and helpful kitchen time and money saving hints are just a few of the featured articles you'll find in this issue of Living. Who doesn't *heart* a new issue of Living?!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Arrangements from Martha Stewart for 1-800 Flowers

Are you looking for something gorgeous to send to your Valentine this year? Martha Stewart for 1-800 Flowers has just released new arrangements that are perfect for your gift giving needs this Valentine's Day.
Offered in a variety of styles and price points, these beautiful arrangements bring together Martha's favorite fresh flowers in beautiful, keepsake vessels inspired by Martha's own personal collection of vases, urns and pots.

Give a beautiful gift of flowers this year to the one you love. To see the complete line of arrangements and gifts, log into 1-800 Flowers for Martha Stewart.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Revisiting Three Favorite Decorating Books

Now that I've settled into the winter months, I thought I would revisit three of my favorite "best of" books from Martha Stewart Living; the decorating series.

"How to Decorate," the first book in the series, was originally published in 1996. This book is an inspiration source for many of the decorating projects I've taken on over the years. Page after page of photographs with brief captions offer step by step hints and suggestions to create and consider when creating spaces. My copy of this book is well worn with numerous post it notes and bookmarks throughout.

After learning the basics in "How to Decorate," the next book in this series "Decorating Details" is a wonderful how-to on putting the finishing touches to any room of your house. Covering a variety of subjects from using mirrors and shelves to lighting and pillows, this 1998 publication offers readers timeless instruction with beautiful photographs to inspire.

The last book in the decorating series is the 2002 publication, "Decorating with Color." I have two copies of this book; one copy is so worn and chocked full of paint chips, notes, and tear sheets from magazines. It stays in my portable decorating file. The other copy sits within my "Martha Library" safe and sound. Decorating with Color will walk the reader through understanding color, how to select colors, and how to use color within a room. Several different color palettes in the book provide inspiration and teach readers how to create and look at their own color palette for their home.
Winter is a great time for home projects. Here's what I do each January:

Take a slow walk around the inside of the house. Grab a pen and paper and carefully walk through every room. Make notes on repairs that need to be made or cleaning projects that need to be accomplished. Examples of such notes include paint touch ups, moulding repairs or heavy duty cleaning needs.

Once you've made your list for every room, divide your list into three categories: major project, weekend project and quick fix. Major projects are those that will take more than a weekend to accomplish. Weekend projects are those that you can accomplish within the weekend and still have time to relax. Quick fixes are just that.. quick, easy repairs or projects that you can accomplish in a couple hours or less. Based on your list breakdown, you can begin to plan your strategy to accomplish all the tasks. You'll be surprised how a quick paint touch up can improve the look of your space.

Re purpose, re purpose, re purpose. With the economy making people think twice about spending money, you can achieve a whole new look to a room by re purposing such things as pictures/artwork, furniture, or accessories for use in another room. I recently removed every framed photograph from the family room walls and replaced them with other pieces of framed art that had been used in other rooms or had been stored away. It gave a whole new look and feel to the room. The cost: $0.00

If you do not have the three books mentioned above, you can still purchase them through or you can even find them on eBay. They are worthy additions to your library.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Craft Project Card

Martha Stewart Crafts has released a new project card to inspire your Valentine's Day crafting adventures. These cards are available at Michaels. To see a larger image, click the photo above.

John's Great Collectible

My Martha Pal John, was the lucky winner of one of the handcrafted ornaments from the Martha Stewart Radio / Taste of the NFL auction. John was the highest bidder on the ornament designed by Sandy Gluck, from Everyday Food.

There were numerous ornaments up for auction created by several of the hosts and guests of Martha Stewart Living Radio. Martha herself created a beautiful glittered bird ornament.

Congratulations to John for winning this great ornament! Kudos to Sandy for her creativity!