#InstaMartha: Martha on Instagram

I've had my iPhone 6 for only a few months and my favourite feature, by far, is the camera. I love taking photos with my phone and putting the ones I am especially fond of on Instagram. Among the many people I follow on Instagram (family, friends, colleagues) are a few of my favourite people from Martha Stewart Living. I love getting the occasional behind-the-scenes glimpse, so I thought I'd do a little 'InstaMartha' roundup to highlight my favourite Martha-related Instagram accounts. If you have Instagram, I urge you to follow these inspiring shutterbugs!
The official Martha Stewart Living Instagram account is a must for any reader of the magazine. It features behind-the-scenes images from the halls of MSLO, new products, flower arrangements, and recipes.
This is the official Martha Stewart Weddings Instagram account. Again, anyone who reads and loves Martha Stewart Weddings magazine will love the inside look at the latest in bridal fashions, decor, flowers and venues.
This is Martha Stewart's personal Instagram account and is one of my favourites. Not only does Martha take her followers around her farm, she also takes us to museums, galleries, events and galas around the world, and shares a recipe or two along the way!
This is an account devoted to all the goings-on at the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living. You'll get to see what the food editors are cooking up and nibbling on at work!
Kevin Sharkey, the decorating editor at Martha Stewart Living, has a very beautiful Instagram account with shots of his apartment, Martha's home in Bedford and all the beautiful things he finds on his shopping trips.
Lucinda Scala Quinn, the editorial director for food and entertaining at Martha Stewart Living, has an account that will make your mouth water! She shares her best-loved recipes and meals with us, as well as some great shots of her home, her family and her favourite haunts around New York City.
Jodi Levine, the former kids and crafts editor at Martha Stewart Living, will delight you with her fun and bright projects for kids and adults alike!
The editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings, Darcy Miller, shares her beautiful ideas for parties and weddings, as well as her adorable drawings and craft projects.
Gael Towey, the former design/creative director at Martha Stewart Living, is a constant source of inspiration. On her Instagram account she shares photos of her home, her travels, her artistic inspirations and her family.
Food editor Sarah Carey shares what she's cooking up at home and at work, as well as personal photographs of her travels.
Tracy Chou, who works at Martha Stewart Living, runs The Crafts Dept. Instagram account, revealing photos of all the latest craft projects the team at MSLO is working, as well as new products!
Kristin St. Clair is a prop stylist and craft editor for Martha Stewart Television. See all her behind-the-scenes adventures on TV sets with Martha on her account, as well as her own personal projects.

Martha Stewart Collection: Whim

Late last year, a new line of housewares from the Martha Stewart Collection began to filter into Macy's stores. It is called "Whim" and is geared towards a younger buyer with fresh, bold colours and prints. The line is currently limited to several bedding collections and a dinnerware set that comes in four different colours, but I'm hopeful that the line will expand. I'm intrigued by the approach and the diversity of the designs: from quiet neutrals to exuberant hues and patterns. Below is a brief look at the collection. To see more click here.
These 16-piece dinnerware sets (Martha Stewart Whim Pool) come in four vibrant hues, reminiscent of vintage Fiestaware. Made of porcelain, the dinnerware is dishwasher and microwave safe. One set includes four of each: dinner plate, dessert plate, bowl, mug.
 The new Whim collection includes a lot of new bedding designs: five-piece comforter sets that come in vibrant and more subdued colour palettes. Shown above, clockwise from top: Two-tone Stripe Comforter Set; Pretty in Poppy quilt set; Mirror, Mirror five-piece comforter set; Vine-Time comforter set.
The sheet sets seem to cover everyone's tastes, from those who prefer subtle creams and neutrals, to those who like bold, colourful solids, to those who enjoy quirky prints. The sheets are 200 thread-count cotton, machine washable, and come with a charming insert featuring a photo of Martha in her modeling days!


Meet the Flora Forager

Bridget Beth Collins lives in a Hobbit-like home in the quiet borough of Ravenna in Seattle, Washington, with her husband and two sons. At least once a day Bridget ventures out into the surrounding wilderness (or her own small front garden) to forage for flora and fauna, which she then arranges into captivating compositions for photographs. If it sounds like she lives a beautiful life, she does. I think the images she creates are proof of her unyielding imagination and constant search for beauty. Bridget's work has been featured in several publications, including the cover of a new gardening magazine called Pith + Vigor, which you can see below. She sells her prints for $22 each at her website FloraForager.com, where you can also see much more of her work. I also strongly suggest you follow her on Instagram for a daily dose of loveliness. Her photos are the perfect antidote to the winter blues.


The February Issue is Quite Good!

Despite my disdain for the image that was chosen for the cover of the February, 2015, issue of Martha Stewart Living (read more here) the issue itself is actually quite good. My copy arrived in the mail on Friday and I've spent a few hours with it on this gloomy Sunday. There is much to enjoy in its pages, such as the decorating article called "Nooks and Cubbies", which has great instructions on how to build a multipurpose ottoman with storage nooks. There are plenty of inspiring photos that make me want more nooks and cubbies in my apartment! The article on dates ("A Date in the Desert") is a great portrait of a California date farmer named Robert Lower, filled with excellent ways to use these fruits in cooking. The American Made feature ("Hatching a Plan") about the women behind the Brooklyn design firm Egg Collective was really interesting and inspiring. I liked Martha's column about Tomas Joseph and his love of pho (pronounced "fuh" - never knew that!) and some of the Valentine's Day craft ideas were very clever and pretty.

Why the editors chose a photo of croque-monsieur sandwiches for the cover is still perplexing to me, especially considering the plethora of Valentine's Day ideas inside the magazine. You would never know that from the cover, which does not even mention Valentine's Day. I'm still scratching my head about the decision making process behind this choice, actually.

Because I like to play with visuals, I had the audacity to rethink and recreate the cover using an image by Anna Williams of lemon-date bars with X and O patterns stenciled in confectioner's sugar, which appears on the splash page (page 67) in the issue. It think it's on-brand. It's still food-centric (if that's what the editors are going for these days, then it meets that requirement) and it alludes to Valentine's Day without being overtly kitschy about it. It think the image is clean, enticing and whimsical. What do you guys think about having this image as the cover instead of the ''ooey gooey'' cheese cover?
The actual cover of the February issue on the left, and my version of the February issue on the right. Which would you rather have on your coffee table? (Both photos by Anna Williams.)


Martha by Mail on 'Internet Archive Wayback Machine'

A reader recently shared a link that I had never heard of before: Internet Archive Wayback Machine. This nonprofit was founded in 1996 and has since archived 435 BILLION web pages saved over time, the majority of which are no longer active. The group's purpose includes offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.
One such archived website is the Martha by Mail shopping site, where you can view and read about dozens of original Martha by Mail products online, as they appeared on the marthastewart.com website in the early aughts. I was so excited to visit the many links and read about the products that I never really had the chance to buy at the time. It is torturous, in a way, since you cannot actually buy any of these long-defunct products, but it's still a nice trip down memory lane and the perfect place to visit if you are a Martha historian like me! Click here to see the Martha by Mail archive. Most of the links work but some are broken.


Wreaths, All Year Long, By Karen Harvey

One thing is certain: Karen Harvey doesn't like peas. The name of her blog is what initially struck me when I first visited idontlikepeas.co.uk. But it wasn't long before I became enamored of the many artistic adventures this UK-based photographer, writer and creative consultant embarks on and catalogs on her blog. One such adventure was wreath making. Not your average 'take-some-greenery-and-ribbon' wreath making, but the kind that involves a bit more time and thought. For Christmas gifts, Karen endeavored to create a wreath for each of her friends, using fabric scraps in colours that represented their personalities and styles. I loved the idea and how the wreaths turned out so I wanted to share the project with you - and so did Karen! Below are Karen's gorgeous wreaths, which I think could be beautiful on a door (outdoors or indoors) all year round. Karen also explains how the wreaths are made, below. Thanks, Karen! Happy wreath-making!

"I’ve always been inspired to come up with fun and beautiful things to make on a budget, my mum taught me to look for the loveliness in everything and to rework and reuse things wherever possible. I used to do a lot of art project work in deprived communities, so the skills my mum taught me came in really handy and I’ve been able to share lots of good things with good people. It was my friend Wendy who gave me the wire frames for the wreaths, I never intended to use them for their original purpose, but one evening I just sat down and started shredding fabric, and I didn’t stop!"

"You really can use any material, as long as its light enough in weight for you to be able to tie in a knot. The ready-made wire frames are available from florists and craft shops (as well as online, eBay etc), its a few pounds for 10 frames, or you can make your own, using garden wire or old wire coat hangers. You just need two rings, one smaller that the other, attached to one-another to create the frame. Then you cut, or tear as I mostly did, your fabric into strips, roughly 4cm wide and 15cm long (but it’s not a science!) and tie them on with one simple knot. Start on the middle ring for ease, tie the fabric strips all in the same direction, and pack on as many as you can! 

It’s nice to use old fabric from things you have loved. I think it would be a lovely thing to do with children’s clothes that they have grown out of, and a nice way of keeping a memory without keeping a lot of clutter.

I kept lots of ribbons from gifts, and the ribbon hangers sewn into clothes, so that I could just add those bits of different texture to the wreaths when I felt like it. You can make them as fancy or as simple as you like really!"

Isla Del Encanto

I spent my Christmas holidays in Puerto Rico, which is where my partner, Tomas, was born and raised. It was my first tropical Christmas and one that I will remember forever. Tomas' family lives there and it was a very special trip for several reasons: we attended his brother's wedding, his nephew's Christening and it was also the first time my parents were able to meet his family! On such a bone-chilling day here in the Northeast, I thought it would be nice to share some of Puerto Rico's warm sunshine and blue skies with you. Below are some of my photographs from our two-week stay on this beautiful island.
This magnificent place is called Hacienda Camp Rico, which is where the wedding reception was held for Tomas' brother Armando and his wife Zobeida. It is an old plantation that has been converted into a grand reception hall.
Armando and Zobeida being photographed on the grounds.
The Hacienda keeps a small herd of white deer on the property, which graze peacefully.
There was a fantastic salsa band that was hired to play at the reception and everyone was dancing, including Tomas' Uncle Pakito, who was a real character! Below is Tomas' niece, Fabiola, who is as fabulous and beautiful as her name suggests!
The car that Armando and Zobeida were whisked away in was a 1963 Chevy Impala SS convertible, the only one of its kind on the island.
We stayed in San Juan, in a very vibrant region called Condado. It is only a short walk to the beach and just a ten minute drive to historic Old San Juan.
This is one of the guard towers at El Morro, the fort that was constructed by the Spanish army in the early 1500s. It is a fascinating site to visit.
Old San Juan is one of the most charming places on earth, with blue cobblestone roads and pastel-hued haciendas that date back centuries. Old San Juan is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is always a hub of activity, culture and commerce.
The ceiling at the San Juan Cathedral was enchanting.
This is the church in Carolina where Tomas' nephew Sebastian was Christened.
Sebastian was such a good boy and didn't make a fuss!
We also had the privilege of attending the Christmas recital for Tomas' niece and nephew, Giovanni and Fabiola, both of whom are so talented! It was a great show!
The beach at Guajataca, a town on the north coast of the island, is rugged and beautiful.
There are many gorgeous homes in Guajataca, perched on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic.
We took a short trip off the main island to the smaller island of Culebra, where we stayed for two nights. It is a very small community but the beaches here are fantastic.
We went swimming here, at Flamenco Beach, many, many times! The water was warm and so beautiful to swim in.
This quaint vignette was found at a very charming and delicious restaurant called La Casita Blanca, which serves traditional Puerto Rican cuisine.
Here I am posing with Tomas and my parents. They had a wonderful time on their first visit to the island! We all have many wonderful memories to keep us warm throughout the winter months.