Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Martha Stewart's Holiday Magazines

Last year Martha Stewart put out a one off Cookie issue for the holidays. This year she has a "Holiday Handmade Gifts" issue out. I have sort of a love/hate relationship with Martha Stewart. Frankly, until she got out of jail and started her Martha show, I didn't like her much at all. I was pleasantly surprised by Martha, where she is actually sort of funny, and a lot less mean than I remember from her previous show. Any show that has guests that range from an indie designer showing you how to make lampshades out of cocktail umbrellas to Russell Crowe making (and cursing at) a turkey can't be that bad. Not to mention the Amy Sedaris episode. I don't go out of my way to watch but I find it enjoyable. I do subscribe to Everyday Food magazine and of late have been enjoying Blueprint, both products of her publishing company but magazines to which she contributes nothing content-wise. Anyway, I sort have always stayed away from Martha Stewart Living, it seemed to me to be too fussy and complicated. I had not really been aware of her holiday issues until last year when I picked up her cookie issue. I was worried it would be full of complicated recipes but it was quite well done, the recipes were not too difficult, the flavors were varied and separated in to sections like bar cookies, crisp cookies, chewy cookies, which was a nice touch. I thought she might have another baking issue this year, but instead she has come out with Holiday Handmade Gifts. It has a number of recipes for candies, cookies and drink mixes and craft instructions. You can see a sample here. It also has great packaging ideas. What I also like is how affordable the crafts/recipes are. Many of projects have you reusing bottles, yogurt containers and other materials. They also don't call for a lot of fancy tools. For example, rather than buy soap molds to make homemade soap, they tell you how to use household containers to make shapes. This year, we are going to make most of the gifts we give and it's great to have a guide that helps us do that on a budget. I also like how many of the crafts/recipes can be completed by someone who might not be the most deft crafter or cook. Well worth the $6 cover price, even if you just use it as inspiration.