Martha's Interview in Splash

In a new interview with Splash magazine - a supplement to the Chicago Sun-Times - Martha reveals some of her time-tested tips on how to entertain for the holidays. With her new book, Appetizers, selling like bite-size hotcakes she acknowledges that entertaining has changed drastically since she released her first book on entertaining in 1982. "There’s a new casualness in people getting together,” she says. She adds that Appetizers is the perfect source for easy entertaining: “[The recipes] are pretty easy to make. You can use pre-made puff pastry if you like, and there are a lot of things you can do ahead. There are a lot of good hints for the busy, busy 2015/2016 entertaining maven.”

Martha took some time to sit down with Elle Eichinger to answer some questions the modern hostess may have about some holiday entertaining conundrums, like what to do if an invited guests brings an uninvited companion, or how to accommodate rambunctious children at a busy party. Click here to read her answers! Below are two of several photographs that appear in the story by photographer Maria Ponce. Martha looks wonderful, photographed at the Willis Tower.
Photographs by Maria Ponce for Splash


The Kitchens at Bedford

I recently sat down and counted the number of kitchens that Martha oversees at her various residences. There are 13 kitchens that I am aware of, and there are likely several more hidden away in the outbuildings and work areas of her homes. Skylands has at least three kitchens. Lily Pond Lane has two. Her Manhattan apartment has one and there are at least seven kitchens on her property in Bedford (yes, I said seven!) and probably more!

It is these kitchens - the kitchens of Cantitoe Corners - that I will post about today. In my view, these kitchens can teach us so much about streamlining the busiest room in the house and they say a lot about Martha's personal tastes. The sum of their parts and the collective lessons they impart really do deserve a book all their own: "Martha's Kitchens." Wouldn't that be a fun book to read?

Below, I've categorized the kitchens at Cantitoe Corners by abode. There are five houses on the property, as well as numerous out buildings. Each house has a kitchen (or two) and I thought it would be fun to explore some of them. I hope you enjoy this collection.

The main kitchen in Martha's 1925 farmhouse - the one she uses every day - was a new addition to the home when she purchased it in 2000. It is a large space that acts as a connective hub between the main house and her large entertaining room, known as the Brown Room, which extends from the south wall. The outdoors can be accessed through front, side and back doors and there is a lot of light from the numerous windows. Marble-topped surfaces provide durability and great looks that pair nicely with the sycamore-veneer cabinetry, stained a light grey hue. The cabinets were designed by architect Beth Weinstein and they were constructed by Bruce Bjork of Bjork Carle Woodworking in Brooklyn. The kitchen (indeed much of the house) is painted a warm shade of grey: Bedford Grey, one of Martha's signature paint colours available at the Home Depot. Martha opted for open shelving for much of the kitchen, particularly for plates, cups, glasses and serveware that is used daily. A professional cappuccino maker, shown above, is one of Martha's favourite installments.
For the center of the room, Martha designed two large kitchen islands. One is stationary and the other is set on castors. It can be wheeled anywhere in the room for additional space or prep surface but is used primarily for casual dining. The stationary island is used for food preparation and houses more shelving below for storage. The kitchen is fully equipped with professional-grade appliances and cookware: two banks of double ovens, a professional grill and gas elements, two refrigerators, two dishwashers and two deep marble sinks. This is a kitchen designed for frequent (and heavy!) use. The floor is reclaimed marble from a house she once owned in the Hamptons: a modern Gordon Bunshaft home that has since been demolished. It is cool in the summer and retains the heat in the winter, plus withstands heavy traffic from guests and pets alike.
The room is bright with windows on three sides. The windows are kept mostly unadorned. A light, opaque shade acts as a privacy screen at night and shields intense sunlight without darkening the space. Two deep apron sinks made of marble make clean-up a breeze. 
Clockwise: Martha, of course, thinks of everything. The stationary island has room to store linens and is equipped with electrical sockets for portable appliances, such as mixers. Baking pans have found a niche here too in elongated, vertical storage spaces nestled into the island. On one wall, Martha has installed what she calls "command central" - a media center with a large-screen television, stereo system and plenty of jacks and sockets for computers and phones. (She is a media mogul, after all!) An assortment of teas is neatly stacked on a marble shelf with several teapots above.
Next to the elements, grill and ovens, Martha keeps a stainless-steel caddie filled with canisters that proffer all manner of utensils: whisks, spoons, spatulas, brushes, tongs, sieves and ramekins that hold frequently-used spices. 
The kitchen connects to the formal dining room in the main house via a room called the servery. It is ostensibly a very large butler's pantry that enhances the kitchen's functionality by expanding the storage space and providing an area to plate food before it is taken into the dining room. The room is equipped with refrigerator drawers and warming ovens to keep food at an appropriate temperature before it is served. It has an extra sink and an extra dishwasher, plus plenty of storage drawers for table linens, place mats, napkins, flatware and serving dishes. Two glass cabinets hold additional glassware and dinnerware while another marble-topped island on castors in the center of the servery provides extra counter space. It is a lovely space with windows on both sides and double doors leading to the dining room.
Some of Martha's Drabware, shown in one of the custom-built glass cabinets in the servery.

Adjacent to the farmhouse is the tenant cottage, a small abode that Martha's daughter, Alexis, uses when she visits the farm with her kids. Alexis designed much of the interior space herself, including the kitchen, which continues much of the same design themes and features of the main kitchen in the farmhouse. 

This kitchen is a small space, almost like a galley. Open shelving keeps the space looking clear and bright. Soapstone is used on the counter tops and on the tabletop, which is set here for a casual Thanksgiving dinner. I love the high contrast between the light of the subway tiles and the deep black of the soapstone.
For her holiday brunch in 2012, Martha designated the Tenant House as "the Candy House" and filled the rooms with Christmas candies and confections. In the kitchen, she lined the sleek shelf above the counter with peppermint trees from Hammond Candy. In this photo the attention to detail in the finishes and fixtures is very evident.

When Martha designed the stables with architect Allan Greenberg she knew she wanted to occasionally use this space for entertaining large groups. A kitchen was essential. It is very open with high ceilings and tiled floors, designed for functionality and utility. There are several ranges and a cook top, as well as refrigerator drawers and a long galvanized sink. Much of Martha's collection of copper is stored here. The oversize shelf brackets add a lot of charm and architectural detail.

Beyond the stables, nestled in a grove of maple trees, is the Maple Avenue House, a ranch-style home that Martha uses as her primary guest house. The kitchen in this house is one of my favourites; it is bright, painted a sunny yellow, and has a unique L-shaped layout.
We can see several recurring design themes in Martha's kitchens: open shelving, sturdy flooring, stainless-steel appliances, multiple sinks, the use of soapstone and marble for countertops and sinks, and lots of light. I love the slightly Shaker-style design of this kitchen.
New cabinets mix with antique cabinetry, such as the two shown hanging on the walls to the right of the photo above. The cabinet shown beyond the doorway was re-purposed from Martha's old television studio in Connecticut; it was once used in the potting shed studio to showcase terracotta pots.
Martha keeps much of her Yellowware in this kitchen, which is an effective design decision. Notice the open cupboard door with the slide-out trays that can hold serving pieces.

On the second floor of the Maple Avenue House is a guest apartment that Martha very recently renovated. She added a kitchen here, too, using kitchen cabinetry from the Martha Stewart Living line of kitchens at The Home Depot
The kitchen design used was the Martha Stewart Living Viatera Quartz Collection at The Home Depot. This style is called "Snowcap". The upper cabinets were extended all the way to the ceiling, and finished with simple crown molding. The cabinets were also fitted with glass front doors to make them visually lighter. The upper cabinets were mounted a bit higher than standard ones - 22-inches above the countertop versus 18-inches. A long shelf was installed with corbels underneath to store frequently used items. The base cabinets are "Weston" in Timberline textured laminate. The wall cabinets are Maidstone in "Ocean Floor". The main counter features a cooktop and a sink. Tucked inside the island are two refrigerator drawers.
In front of the sink is a tilt-out drawer for sponges, nail brushes, bottle brushes, etc. This is an ingenious idea! The counters are marble.
Using a pegged board style kept dishes safe from hitting each other, and in place, until they were needed: another great design feature.

Well, those are the principle kitchens at Cantitoe Corners! I hope you found the tour insightful and interesting. There are other kitchens on the property, as well, but it was not easy to find photographs of them. (If anyone has photographs of any kitchen at Bedford that I may have missed, please send them my way.) I am sure the Summer House, for instance, is equipped with a kitchen but it has not been shown to my knowledge. The Contemporary House on the property likely has a full kitchen as well, although this is the one house on the property that Martha has not yet renovated. There is also a very small kitchen adjacent to the Flower Room, which is located in the same building that houses Martha's garages. Below, you can see Chef Pierre Schaedelin of PS Tailored Events working with his assistant in this kitchen.
As for the outbuildings, such as the large structure that houses Martha's gym, hobby room and homekeeping room, there is sure to be a kitchen or two that has so far escaped the lenses of Martha's photographers and editors. This is why we need a book about Cantitoe Corners! (Martha, if you're reading this, please do take note!)


Martha's American Made Moves to Amazon

Martha Stewart's American Made market has left eBay and is now available at Amazon.com, which is really great news for consumers and for the artisans. With competitive shipping costs and easy payment options, Amazon is the perfect retailer to showcase and sell these carefully-selected, American-made products.

Last month, Amazon set up its "Handmade" shop, an arts-and-crafts marketplace where artisans can sell their wares. The new site has positioned Amazon as a formidable competitor to Etsy, which has grown exponentially over the last five years. (The company logged almost $2 billion in gross merchandise sales in 2014, and went public this year.)
American Made, an initiative begun by Martha and her company in 2012 to help foster American entrepreneurs and their homegrown businesses, has been a boon to crafters, growers, bakers, sewers, woodworkers and designers eager to expand their reach. In an interview with The New York Times, Martha said that Amazon was the ideal place to showcase these talented businesses.

“It’s a much bigger audience,” she said. “It’s the powerhouse retailer online in the United States.” She added: “It’s a step in the right direction, I think, to showcase the vast number of entrepreneurial small companies emerging in the United States. And some of these companies might become the giants of tomorrow.”

Click here to visit the Martha Stewart American Made store at Amazon. 


DIY Turkey Decorations for the Thanksgiving Table

One of my favourite articles from any recent volume of Martha Stewart Living magazine is one Martha wrote in the November, 2013, issue about the table decorations she made using PermaStone, a lightweight but durable cement. Their effect on a table setting she designed for a small gathering with her family was casual but elegant, rustic but modern and the look imparted a sense of whimsy that her grandchildren would still appreciate. See below for some inspirational photos from the craft project and the final look of the table - as well as an example made by Martha Moments reader Paul S. Neumann, which turned out beautifully! Click here to read Martha's full article and get the instructions for the project.
The project can be a little bit messy, so Martha chose to work outdoors in her car port.
Using two to three tablespoons of dye to mix with the PermaStone (available at Michael's or Jo-Ann craft stores), variations on tint can be achieved. Originally, the craft was tried using metal and tin chocolate molds but it was difficult to extricate the finished piece. Instead, Martha used plastic candy and candle molds, which are more malleable. (Click here for the candy mold source. Click here for the candle mold source.)
Small place cards were created using the candle molds. Dark brown paper was cut into ovals and the names of the diners were written in gold pen. The paper was inserted into thin slits made in the turkey with a small, serrated hobby saw after the turkeys had dried.
The table setting, when completed, looked beautiful. Martha chose the Tenant House at her Bedford property to host this particular Thanksgiving meal with her daughter and grandchildren. The palette was kept simple and neutral with beautiful arrangements of foxtail, Timothy grass and wheat set inside enamel cups. Martha placed the turkey molds in small groupings set atop round bread boards.
I love how the table looks!
Martha Moments reader Paul Neumann did the project this year. Here is one example he submitted. He placed it in a nest of Spanish moss inside a small cement planter, which looks lovely. "A little investment in time," he says, "but fun all the way through! It's also sitting on a Martha Stewart bread board."
 Very well done, Paul!

Thanksgiving Clip-Art: Chocolate-Bar Wrapper and Place Card

I love simple but thoughtful touches that can help make a celebration memorable. This clip-art craft from the November, 2008, issue of Martha Stewart Living is a fun, tasteful (and tasty!) idea that anyone can bring to their dining room table this year. Printed with a beautiful image of a stately-looking turkey, inspired by vintage Thanksgiving postcards, the clip-art can be folded around a chocolate bar and presented at each seat. The wrapper serves as a place card while the confection doubles as a take-home treat, which guests will be thankful for long after the real bird is gone. Click here for the template and instructions.


New Weddings Special Issue

A new issue of Martha Stewart Real Weddings & Honeymoons is on stands now. This special issue features editorials on several real weddings with behind-the-scenes photographs of the celebrations, from start to finish. You'll also get advice on hair and makeup, choosing the right floral designer and using fresh flowers to decorate your wedding cake. If you haven't decided on a honeymoon spot yet, this issue profiles destinations as diverse as Costa Rica, Ireland, Hawaii, Barbados, England and Brazil. Pick up the issue today!


Martha's Jadeite-Green Glass Returns to Macy's

Most fans of Martha Stewart simply cannot resist that glossy green glass known as Jadeite. It was Martha, in fact, who re-introduced the Fireking collectible to American collectors through her magazine and other media channels. (She too is a collector.) Martha offered jadeite-green glass kitchenware items through her now-defunct mail-order catalog, Martha by Mail: items included mixing bowls, canisters, dinnerware sets and cake stands. These are highly collectible today. When Martha launched the Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's in 2006, several jadeite-green products were available...but not for long. Well, new to the product line this season is a jadeite-green glass pedestal cake stand with a glass dome. It is sure to go fast, so if you're a jadeite junkie, as I know many of you are, this really ought to become part of your collection. It is $108 - and it is beautiful! Click here to read more about it.