on March 3, 2002
Many people find themselves either daunted or turned off by the mention of "Martha Stewart." I find many aspects of the magazine surprisingly accessible, however. For example, I taught myself how to make jam several years ago based on step-by-step instructions in one of her magazines--something I'd never seen anywhere else. Now you may be thinking, "Right--like when do I have time to make jam?" I don't have time to make jam anymore either--but although there are certainly "snobby" aspects to the Martha Stewart empire, I credit her for actually being more down-to-earth than most people give her credit for. Making jam, for example, wasn't as difficult and out-of-reach as I'd made it out to be in my mind. Her recipes aren't that outlandish--as, for example, you're likely to find in Gourmet or Food and Wine. Certainly, one can be cynical and criticize Martha for sentimentalizing the idea of the Home--but on another level, I find that she reminds me to slow down and invest energy in this place I call my Home. No, I can't tackle all her projects--but they aren't as ridiculous as they've been parodied to be. Her step-by-step instructions are excellent.
This is a fine magazine with truly scrumptious recipes if you're into the kitchen/food thing, home ideas that one can actually use (or that will inspire one to do something similar), and exquisite photography, usually quite stark and simple, of ways to enhance the aesthetic beauty of one's life.
One can serve a plain meal of soup and bread, and make it look like a feast, if you get into Martha's way of looking at things, and it does not take a spending spree to have a "Martha Look". Her basic table settings tend to be white china (one can use mix and match white plates from the local thrift store), clear glass, and colorful fabric...add some well shaped twigs in a glass vase for a centerpiece, and voila ! you have a table that could be shown in this lovely magazine; a rule for "The Look" seems to be the absence of clutter.
Of the regular monthly articles, I like "Ask Martha", which solves problems posed by readers, from health issues to how best to clean your eyeglasses, to "How can I get the coating on my chicken to stay in place when I am frying it ?".
"Clip-Art Craft" is another I appreciate, where in the August '04 edition for example, there are attractive templates for postcards, which one can copy onto card stock, glue a 4 x 6 photo to, and send to your friends. It's another grand idea from Martha !
You'll find articles on antiques, pets, gardening, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and much more, and on the last page, the yummy "Cookie of the Month".
Martha Stewart has brought style and good merchandise at affordable prices for those of us who are budget conscious, but like nice things. I have bought her bedding, and her bathroom accessories have graceful shapes and are an excellent value, and this magazine is one of my favorite aspects of the "Martha industry". The Patricians I know are not usually kind to Martha, but Proles & Plebes like me tend to greatly appreciate her.
Martha, we're going to stick by you through thick and thin !
on March 18, 2009
It seems that in the past six months, Living has gone the way of two other of my once-favorite magazines, Gourmet and Bon Appetit. Whether this is a result of new editors/staff or a sign that Martha (and her "people") are finally running out of new things to do, I cannot be sure. What I can say is that this is not the Living I first fell in love with years ago.
For one, the projects (and some recipes) have become overwrought, in that many of them require materials and/or tools which are either difficult or expensive to acquire. My best example of this is December 2008's issue, which featured Christmas cookies made using vintage Springerle molds. (I believe that in the same issue, an ornament project also featured the use of these molds, not to mention special clay AND paints.) My point is, at one time you could turn to Living for Christmas cookie recipes and find new and inventive ways to make your ordinary kitchen ingredients into veritable visual and gustatory masterpieces. Now the same task requires that you have vintage tools, specialty ingredients, and an aesthetic for all things faux-boix. Could it be that Martha's people are scraping the bottom of the rare, flea-market-find inspiration barrel? I fear so.
I ought to note at this point that, where projects/recipes are NOT overwrought, they seem to be little more than recycled ideas from isssues past, with a few tweaks here and there (insert stand-up table place markers in the shape of _________ here, fabric-covered corkboards and shoeboxes there, the ubiquitous fruit-liquor gelatins and drab, stale-looking cookies of the month everywhere...)
No less disheartening are the pages and pages of glossy ads I find myself ripping from the magazine each month, an act which literally reduces the issue to half its original size. The two most recent issues went from my mailbox to my couch to the recycling bin within two or three hours. March's gardening issue focused less on actual gardening tips and techniques than it did on the landscaping/garden design of a few notable (and no doubt stinking rich) individuals, and the requisite familiar, tiring features on cut flower arrangements and houseplants. April's "Easter/Passover Issue" was not really that at all, save for a few passover recipes and easter crafting projects.
All in all, aside from the occasional gem I might mine from "Good Things" or craft project which does NOT require a Swiss bank account, I am increasingly underwhelmed by each issue of Living that slinks its way into my mailbox each month. It's kind of like the sibling who visits monthly and who can never seem to quite pull his life together: each month you search for a subtle shift, a brightening, any change whatsoever, desperate to find your loved one in some way redeemed, only to be disappointed by the same patterns, the same dismal staleness once again.
on March 22, 2002
I have been subscribing to Martha Stewart for ages. I love her TV show...and while I think she is a mildly obsessed person to take on all her tasks, I have learned many valuable tips from her magazines. I consider myself a pretty crafty person and I owe alot of great ideas to the Great One.
These past two years however, I have noticed a huge change in the quality of her magazine subscription. In the beginning, she devoted many pages to crafting and collecting, a few pages to great recipes and gardening...but now all I see anymore are expensive ads. Literally, her magazine has grown into a very hefty 40% ad content. I give her credit for choosing elegant and high style ads as sponsers, but as I flip through the pages ALL I notice now are designer, perfume, clothing, and bedding ads. I sometimes wonder if amidst all the new crafty and quickly blooming Martha-style versions of her own creation, if she needs more and more money from these sponsers to support the turn-out of her subscriptions. And yes, I have begun to leaf through some of these new "good things" take-offs. Many are great and do not have all the clutter of unwanted ads. I think, for myself, this might be my last year with Martha...it's time to try something new(and a lot less expensive). As a true fan though, I still highly recommend her fabulous TV show and her published books on cooking, gardening, and crafting. You will find no annoying fillers in her beautiful, harcover books.
on August 5, 2010
There is a reason that people place ads on Craigslist looking for old Martha Stewart magazines, and why they sell for a pretty penny on Ebay. Martha Stewart Living is a great magazine for those who really like to try their hand at creation of all sorts.Being a thirty-something gal who is learning to cook, bake, garden, can, decorate and entertain, I am in love with this magazine. Not only is it beautiful from cover to cover with stunning photography and eye-catching layouts, it is filled with ideas and inspiration for young women like myself who are coming into their adult lives who want to make a house feel like a home and who want to host signature events.
Having grown up fed processed foods and taking weekly family grocery trips to the Costco, I never knew the power of tending a garden or making jam. Now,I feel empowered when I create pizza dough from scratch, or make my home beautiful for a party, or create that special greeting card with help from this magazine. Martha Stewart Living is a reminder to all of us that we can do things for ourselves.
Some reviewers have said that ideas in the magazine are out-of-touch, or too costly due to specialized equipment, and that is true. Some of the ideas in this magazine are not five and dime craft time with baby projects - some are very sophisticated and I appreciate that, even if I cannot participate myself just yet. Most the ideas in this magazine are very accessible to anyone who can afford the subscription. SO much so that for Christmas I bought a gift subscription for my best friend who lives far away from me. Each month, we call each other the day our magazines arrive and get excited about the new ideas together.
My Martha Stewart Living magazines are craft/entertainment library treasures. I look at them time and time again and cannot imagine ever not wanting to keep each issue - now isn't that saying something about the quality of the product? I think so.
on December 20, 2001
I've bought all her magazines since 1997 from Living to Weddings to Baby to Kids to all her Special Issues and I love them all. I've kept every single issue. Martha is a teacher. I've learnt how to make bridal bouquets with her awesome step-by-step instructions (Summer 2000, page 128) How to clean hard-wood floors (Sept '01, page 130) annual gardening issues (March). Articles featuring various types of tomatoes, squash, eggplants, peppercorns, mustard ... the list is endless. Her 101 articles is awesome too, e.g. pumpkin pie 101, fried chicken 101. I enjoy cooking from her recipes (and also Julia Child's 'Way to Cook' - whom I admire tremendously as well). Cooking, gardening, house-keeping ... it's all a passion, it's how well you want to do it. I wasn't happy just slapping dinner down on the table, each time I cook something, I want it to be even better than the first time I did it. Martha shows you how and she truly loves to teach, when you read the magazine from cover to cover, you will realise that. You will learn many things. Read about a 97 year old gentleman hybridzing at least 150 Siberian Iris, how he did it etc. (March '99) you will be amazed at the colors and his energy. I look forward to seeing it at the news-stands every month. I hope you do too.
on January 28, 2002
Martha Stewart Living magazine--one of many of Martha's current projects--is a magazine that traverses all levels of domestic life, attempting to ameliorate household problems and enhance every day urban and suburban living. In its glossy pages, helpful ideas, recipes, tips, and steps for everything from upholstering furniture to planting those trees you never seem to have the time to plant, abound. Special features like "Ask Martha" cover ideas and topics the magazine would never have time to cover through its highly structured articles. While, many of these articles feature things we'd never attempt to complete, "The Guide" offers ways to procure the various elements and ingredients required to accomplish these creations and feats of ingenuity. "Special" themed issues, focus on everything from gardening to decorating, and are great reference sources when remodeling your house or planting a burgeoning bush of roses.
Still, Martha Stewart Living is not without its faults. Copious amounts of advertisements abound, and easily annoy when trying to locate a certain article or feature. Martha's pretentious style and language, which seems to transcend her television show, subtracts and adds to the content of the articles, depending on the subject matter. But the greatest foible of this magazine is the fact that Martha has very little hand in the writing, composition, and photography of the articles. Perhaps her three television shows, commitment to her stock on the New York Stock Exchange, her other magazines (including "Baby," "Kids," and "Weddings"), books, and various K-mart "Everyday" lines take away a majority of Martha's time, but one would think that she'd attempt to include more self-penned articles than simply "A Letter from Martha" and "Remembering" features within the magazine, considering she slaps her name almost everywhere else in the magazine. To compound matters, Martha has over-saturated the market, causing less time to be spent on the magazine, and consequent quality irregularities and size differences (ranging from one hundred and fifty pages to three hundred pages per issue) within the magazine.
Despite some glaring negative points of the magazine, one cannot help but indulge in a subscription and the brief peek into the life of the social elite and well-connected, even just for a few pages.
on February 9, 2012
I love taking a long bath with this magazine on a rare quiet evening. Martha Stewart Living is a magazine that inspires me to break my blase routine and bake something, get crafty, or try growing a new herb from seed (and then subsequently using the herb in a new dish). It is so nice to pick up a magazine and not bother with the table of contents - just start at the beginning and read every article.
The writing is well done; descriptive yet concise with easy-to-follow instructions for the how to articles.
The ideas are fresh and unique. There is always something interesting and simple that I can make that will give me an activity to do, won't take all day, and will add interest or value to the overall project, be it dinner, a refinished piece of furniture, or my window box.
I think one of the big keys to success for this magazine is that it is something readers of all walks of life can enjoy. By that I mean that I am not a homeowner, I do not have a yard, I cannot put up crown molding or make drastic changes to my home, but I find significant value in the little ideas and projects in this magazine because 9/10 times it is something I can use or pursue. This is a big plus because I cannot make use of a lot of ideas in other magazines or on Pinterest because of my renter's situation.
I'm a fan and I just renewed for a second year. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed.
on January 20, 2016
Yes we know the magazine and nobody would ever order it if it was terrible ( though comparing the lest two years editions versus the ones published years before the reduction in topics,articles and number of pages is significant).
I would like to advice you ordering from Meredith: don't!!!!
In the age of Internet, and extreme leve and amount of electronic data processing - 3 MONTHS of processing is ridiculous and unacceptable!!!
They process payment in seconds!
Lots to work on Meredith! ☹️
on August 15, 2005
This magazine transports you to a different world. Every issue is a wish-book, with holiday cooking to plan over the upcoming month, or crafts to do over your next long weekend, or a bookcase to try to paint for a new room. Well, in my life, years go by and I dream on. But just leafing through this magazine erases so many cramped, negative, angry thoughts. I will never laugh at "crafty" people again. I will also probably never actually accomplish anything so beautifully pictured inside, but the dreams are sweet.
The expert information regarding vintage items and preservation alone is fascinating, but then you have gardening, cooking, baking, furniture, decorating, beading, anything do-it-yourself. Martha is truly a wonder woman. Worth every cent.