Maha Malluh's "Food For Thought"

On a recent blog post at TheMarthaBlog.com, Martha showcased a photo of herself standing in front of an art installation at the newly-opened United Arab Emirates Louvre Abu Dhabi gallery in Dubai. The installation is a grouping of enormous aluminum pots with their charred and crackled bottoms facing outward to reveal a beautiful tapestry of texture and pattern. They are part of a larger series of work by Saudi artist Maha Malluh called "Food For Thought - Al Muallaqat".
I was really struck by the odd beauty of these pots and the creative thinking behind the concept so I decided to learn a bit more about the artist and share more images from the exhibit here on Martha Moments.
The grouping of pots Martha is standing in front of is part of a larger, untitled installation featuring an entire wall of these pots.
The effect is striking.
The artist, Maha Malluh, shown above, was born in Saudi Arabia in 1959. It is where she lives and works. Most of her work is comprised of found objects that she re-purposes and reinvents into large-scale installations that speak to a larger theme or topic. The purpose of much of her work, she says, is to challenge the viewer to pause and think more deeply about the world that surrounds them and to see ordinary objects in new and unexpected ways. 

"I am interested in the systems of value awarded to material objects in our contemporary culture," she says. "I like to work with objects that are going to disappear from our life, in order to preserve our identity and our cultural memory."

In her Food For Thought collection, Malluh explores the beauty of everyday cookware by grouping pieces into mass installations, as she did with the aluminum pots. For this exhibit she also created enormous columns of bowls and serving dishes by fusing them together into towering pedestals.
To read an interview with Malluh and learn more about the symbolism and intent behind the work, click here.


Martha's New Cookie Box on National Cookie Day

On this #NationalCookieDay, I thought I'd take the opportunity to feature Martha's new Cookie Box from Martha & Marley Spoon. The box contains the ingredients for four simple but delicious cookies, providing you with everything you need to make these tasty treats. The cookies are Brown Butter Shortbread Cookies with Cardamom, Double-Chocolate Peppermint Brownies, Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies and Noel Nut Bars. Whether the in-laws drop by unexpectedly, the office cookie exchange is looming or you want something fun for the kids to do while they're on Christmas break, Martha's Cookie Box has you covered! The cost of the box is $38.99 USD and it will arrive no later than 10 days after your order is placed. The Cookie Box is available until January 3, 2018. (U.S. residents only)
The ingredients for each cookie are individually boxed with gift-giving in mind. You can give one or two of the boxes of ingredients as a gift to the baker on your list, or you can bake the cookies yourself and give a few cookies to friends, family or colleagues in one of eight cookie bags that come in the box. The kit also includes red and white baker's twine for presentation. Whether you make and keep all of the cookies for you and your family or give them away to friends, Martha has thought of everything!
As always, each cookie box comes with large recipe cards with easy-to-follow instructions. Below are photos of the finished cookies.
Double Chocolate Peppermint Brownies: Get the recipe here.
Brown Butter Shortbread Cookies with Cardamom: Get the recipe here.
Noel Nut Balls: Get the recipe here.
Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies: Get the recipe here.


Martha's Christmas Books

Every year I turn to Martha's Christmas books for inspiration and comfort. Even if I don't always have time to make the crafts or try the recipes, I take comfort in the beautiful imagery and find joy in the inspiration behind many of the ideas contained in their pages. Below is a list of Martha's Christmas books - from her first self-penned book on the holiday ("Martha Stewart's Christmas") which was published in 1989, to the more recent compendiums of holiday ideas and recipes by Martha Stewart Living magazine. My personal favourite is "Classic Crafts & Recipes For the Holidays," which was published in 2001; I learned so much about growing Amaryllis and Christmas cactus from this book. I also love the compilation of Martha's holiday-themed "Remembering" columns from the magazine that are included in the book. Which of these books do you have? What are your favourites?
Here is a full list of Martha's Christmas books. Many of them were released in both paperback and hard-cover editions. The first book, "Martha Stewart's Christmas", was initially released in hard-cover, as shown above, but was later reissued with a new paperback cover in the mid-1990s. I've indicated which ones are "must have", in my opinion.

1. Martha Stewart's Christmas: 1989 (MUST HAVE)

This is classic Martha. Look for the original, hard-cover version. In the book, Martha invites readers to join in her Christmas celebrations as she decorates her home (Turkey Hill), wraps special gifts and prepares luscious meals for friends and family throughout the holiday. Some of the projects and ideas may seem a bit dated by today's standards but they can be easily updated to suit a more modern palette and sensibility. If you enjoy vintage Martha Stewart, or seeing her former home in Connecticut all decked out for the holidays, then this book is a must.

2. The Best of Martha Stewart Living Holidays: 1994

Five years later, after Martha started her magazine, the first collection of holiday ideas from Martha Stewart Living was published by Clarkson Potter. With hundreds of ideas for Thanksgiving and Christmas, including recipes, craft ideas, table settings, decorations and collecting, it's a great compilation from the first four years of the magazine. (Fun fact: the cover was photographed in Quebec, Canada.)

3. Christmas with Martha Stewart Living: 1997

Building on the 'Best Of' motif, this book gathers ideas and recipes from the magazine that center on the celebration of Christmas. In addition to ideas published in the magazine, Martha shows you how she decorates her new house in the Hamptons (Lily Pond Lane) and her home in Connecticut, Turkey Hill.

4. Decorating for the Holidays: 1998

With over 200 full-colour photographs, this book focuses solely on the practice of decorating your home for a fun and festive atmosphere. From snowman ideas to floral centerpieces, swags and garlands to Christmas trees, it has it all! (I've always found the cover of this book to be delightfully camp!)
5. Crafts and Keepsakes for the Holidays: 1999

From crafting your own holiday wreath to making something special for your loved ones, this book celebrates the homemade and the handmade spirit of the holidays: from keepsake ornaments you can make yourself, to stockings you can sew, table favours and party decorations, the book will inspire the artist in you and help you make handcrafting your holiday gifts a treasured holiday tradition.

6. Parties and Projects for the Holidays: 2000

Entertaining during the holidays is almost always a given: this book helps you inject those parties with a touch of whimsy and the handmade. Featuring recipes and holiday projects from Martha Stewart Living, the book has ideas for fun projects for kids and adults alike.

7. The Best of Martha Stewart Living: Handmade Christmas: 2001

Want to make a gingerbread mansion for Christmas? Or your own gift wrap? Or beautiful, seasonal window boxes? Or your own wreaths? Filled with instructional ideas for creating magical holiday decorations, this book celebrates the very best of Martha Stewart Living's handmade holiday projects. 

8. Classic Crafts & Recipes for the Holidays: 2001 (MUST HAVE)

This book is probably my personal favourite. It's warm and 'classic' in every way. It has a great section on how to grow and keep your holiday plants (amaryllis, Christmas cactus), pinecone crafts, ice projects and some delicious recipes you'll come back to again and again - including Mr. and Mrs. Maus's fruitcake. Peppered throughout the book are Martha's personal reflections on the holidays in a collection of her "Remembering" columns from the magazine. There are glimpses of her homes in Connecticut, the Hamptons and in Maine all dressed for the holidays. I have it on my coffee table at this very moment and I know I will page through it several times this month. It's a "classic" indeed.
9. Classic Crafts & Recipes Inspired by the Songs of Christmas: 2002

This book really takes inspiration to the next level! Using the best-loved Christmas songs as the foundation for holiday projects and recipes, it presents us with so many witty and fun ideas. The fun starts with "The Twelve Days of Christmas" - a project inspired by each of the twelve themes from the song. "Deck the Halls" focuses on using holly in unusual centerpieces and decorations. And whether you listen to Bing Crosby crooning in the background or create your own chorus, you'll enjoy preparing the classic "White Christmas" all aglow with white decorations, white foods and confections. As always, full-colour photographs and clear directions make every project easy to create. 

10: The Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook: 2003 (MUST HAVE)

Here, at last, is a compilation of every Christmas recipe (600 to be exact!) that had ever been published in Martha Stewart Living magazine to this point: from her classic eggnog to Turkey 101, a myriad of cakes and cookies, sides and hors d'oeuvres, you'll find everything you need for a classic Christmas menu. And if you're stuck on menu planning, Martha provides you with suggested menus as well! My mom loves this book and often refers to it this time of year for one or two new recipes to add to her traditional favourites. 


Martha Moments Readers Share Their Thanksgiving Photos!

I'm never disappointed by the talent, enthusiasm and creativity of Martha Moments readers - who are, of course, all fans of Martha Stewart! During the holidays I always like to showcase some of their photos of their holiday meals and decorations. This Thanksgiving weekend, just like last time, the Martha Moments gang went all out, using Martha's recipes (including Turkey 101), Martha's tableware or Martha's ideas to create a special and memorable holiday! Thank you, readers, for submitting your photos! Enjoy!
My friend David Pantoja, of the Good Things by David blog, set a gorgeous table using his Martha by Mail caramel-glass turkey dishes to complement the centerpiece. I love the colour scheme. You can see more of his table here.
Trellis Smith's turkey looks done to perfection! The presentation is also gorgeous on that Martha Stewart Collection turkey platter! The table setting is so pretty!
Paul Collins' turkey is a sight for hungry eyes - perfectly crispy skin and beautifully displayed on his table for three.
Sharon Taves' wonderful-looking turkey is ready to be carved. I bet it was so tasty!
Jeremy Lambertson's turkey, fresh out of the oven: golden brown and succulent!
Joan Vargas tried Martha's stuffed Turkey Roulade this year. It looks delicious, just waiting for a little drizzle of maple syrup!
Tina Hyland made Martha's savory autumn tarts this year. They look exquisite!
Tihanyi Agnes made a scrumptious-looking sweet potato casserole as a festive side.
Jeremy Lambertson's pumpkin pie looks mouth-wateringly good!
Joan Vargas made several pies this year; here they are wrapped in Saran ready for transport.
This is Jennifer Doherty's delicious-looking pumpkin pie with a topping of pepitas, pecans, almonds and ginger. Yum!
In his grandmother's old skillet, Michael Fus made a chocolate-chip skillet brownie, using Martha's recipe. Wouldn't a slice be so tasty with a cup of coffee?
But it was Martha's pecan pie recipe that was the big holiday hit this year for so many readers! Jeremy Lambertson, Anthony Picozzi, Joan Vargas and Tina Hyland all made her delicious recipe this year - to great effect! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Happy Thanksgiving 2017

I'd like to take a moment to wish all of the American readers of this blog a very Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you're enjoying time with family and friends and taking some time to reflect upon all of the things in our lives we have so much to be thankful for. Eat, drink and be merry, my friends! Cheers!


Holiday Wreaths at Terrain

One of the most beautiful garden shops in the United States is Terrain. It is Anthropologie's garden concept shop and there are only four locations: Glen Mills, Pennsylvania (the original), Westport, Connecticut, Walnut Creek, California, and Palo Alto, California. The original shop in Pennsylvania is the most quaint and charming, in my opinion, because it uses the original structures of an old farmstead to house and showcase its wares. Every year Terrain sets up a winter shop that sells the most beautiful holiday decor items, including stunning handmade wreaths. I've selected five of my favourites below. To see the full collection of their wreaths, click here. If you have the chance to visit any of their stores, I strongly encourage you to! They are an experience in and of themselves. (At the bottom of the post there are photographs of the Terrain stores).
Crimson & Greens Wreath: bright red sprigs of caspia, phalaris, celosia and flax pair with natural leaves to form this handmade wreath. Indoor use only.
My personal favourite: Pheasant Forest Wreath: striped pheasant feathers (gathered humanely) add the finishing touch to this hand-crafted wreath, which brings the autumn woods indoors with natural oak leaves, grasses, cattails and twigs. Indoor use only.
Winter Forest Wreath: natural leaves and eucalyptus with boughs of preserved cedar, white sinuata, echinops and pinecones. For indoor use or sheltered outdoor use.
Dried Cotton Boll Wreath: a handmade wreath featuring natural cotton bolls, some full and some empty, for a look that is charming and unique. Indoor or sheltered outdoor use.
Another personal favourite: Autumn Flax and Protea Wreath: bright protea pods are mixed with natural leaves, preserved myrtle, eucalyptus and flax. Indoor use only.


The Terrain stores are gorgeous any (and every) time of year. Below is a selection of photographs of their stores to give you a sense of their charming atmosphere. In addition to selling plants (indoor and outdoor varieties), they also sell a delightful selection of home decor items, books, outdoor furniture and accessories. Each of the stores also has a cafe and a space for events, such as weddings, workshops and more!


Martha's Conservatory Greenhouse

One of the most spectacular structures on Martha's property in Bedford, New York, is the conservatory greenhouse. It was designed by Allan Greenberg, the architect responsible for all of the renovations at Cantitoe Corners and the design of Martha's stables. The greenhouse was inspired by the Crystal Palace greenhouse of Hyde Park in London, England. Built in 1851 to house more than 14,000 vendors from around the world who attended that year's Great Exhibition, the structure was more than three times the size of St. Paul's Cathedral! It was destroyed by fire in 1936.

Martha and Allan were inspired by the symmetry and the layout of the Crystal Palace, and other Victorian greenhouse structures similar to it. While Martha's greenhouse is nowhere near the size of the Crystal Palace, it still occupies a nearly 3000 square-foot footprint - quite large for a residential greenhouse design.
It was essential that Martha have a large greenhouse at Cantitoe Corners to grow all of the specimens she was interested in: begonias and orchids of all kinds, lemon trees, ferns and numerous rare specimens of houseplants. Martha and her gardener, Ryan McCallister, use the greenhouse as both a laboratory and a showplace. It is a place to nurture young seedlings as well as display unusual plants that are not ideal for display inside a home, such as the Titan arum, or 'corpse flower', which smells of rotting flesh. (Martha has one!)

Below are photographs of Martha's conservatory greenhouse. (She also has a vegetable greenhouse and a tropical hoop house!) Now that the weather in the Northeast has turned cold and the skies have become a perpetual grey, I thought it would be nice to show a little green. There is a video of Martha touring the greenhouse at the bottom of the post.
This is the main entrance to the greenhouse from the main entrance road. The greenhouse is located at the south end of the property near the tenant house and Martha's main residence, the Winter House.
This aerial view of the greenhouse, taken with one of Martha's drones, shows the vast scale of the edifice. To the rear of the building is the gardener's head house, which is where Ryan McCallister works cultivating, re-potting and caring for all of the plants inside the greenhouse. Behind the greenhouse is the former vegetable garden, which is now Martha's cutting garden.
Here is a closer look at the head house. It is made from the same stone as the stables, quarried in Vermont.
In this more distant view, you can see the adjacent pergola that is used to hang some plants outdoors during the warmer days.
The former vegetable garden, which is now the cutting garden, is located next to the greenhouse.
Inside the greenhouse Martha grows hundreds of specimens of plants: begonias, orchids, succulents and ferns are among her favourites.
A fine gravel covers the aisles to absorb water.
So much green!
Extra pots are stored under some of the benches and everything is grouped by type of plant and displayed beautifully.
Ryan checks in on the plants.
Gorgeous tropical foliage in the sunlight.
Guy Wolff orchid pots in the head house, bottom right. Almost all of the ceramic pots at Martha's house are by ceramicist Guy Wolff.
Kept warm and out of winter's biting chill, Martha's plants have a happy home indeed! What a nice place to visit on those bleak winter days!