Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cook Like a Restaurant Chef

Away from the stream of servers through a swinging door and the never-ending call of new orders in a restaurant kitchen, chefs are home cooks too albeit with a little more experience. Adam Roberts, the writer behind The Amateur Gourmet blog and book, entered the home kitchens of 50 legendary chefs to learn their secrets and adapt their recipes for foodies without a culinary degree.

In his new book, Secrets of the Best Chefs, Adam shares the insights he learned while cooking with the likes of Alice Waters, Top Chef Harold Dieterle, Jonathan Waxman, and Jos Andrs. Here, a few of our favorite takeaways.

Taste as you go.

If theres one lesson to take away from this entire book, this is it. Cooking is not about blindly adding this and that and hoping that what youre making comes out okay. Engage with the food youre making and taste it every step of the way.

Use your internal timer.

Chefs were often amused as we cooked together because Id nervously remind them that they had something in the oven. Id fret when a timer wasnt set. But all good chefs have a well-developed sense of everything that is happening in the kitchen at all times. Its encoded in their DNA. With practice, you can learn to have this internal timer too.

Control the heat.

Very rarely do recipes talk about that knob on your stove that controls the heat, but great cooks know that knob very well. Seldom do they set the heat to high or medium or low and leave it alone. As they cook, they monitor whats happening and adjust the heat accordingly.

Get cooking with this recipe forOlive Oil-Fried Eggs with a Crown of Herbs, which Adam cooked with Alice Waters.

Excerpted from Secrets of the Best Chefs by Adam Roberts (Artisan Books). Copyright 2012.

A Model Mutt

The morning of our holiday gift guidephoto shoot for this months issue was a gathering of the tails unlike anything seen before at Martha Stewart Living. Shuffling around the kitchen were Mickey, Millie, and Willow, some of our favorite fur-covered coworkers. Mickey, photo editor Linda Denahans eight-year-old rescue, was not so enthusiastic about his assignment: modeling a super-soft fur-lined sleep sack.

With a little wiggling and some gentle coercion from associate art director Katie Field (pictured above), Mickey eventually snuggled up inside but not without giving the camera his best steely gaze.

Dont miss our gift picks for pets, with ourfavorite giftable pet finds and the rest of our canines model moments.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It Takes a (Crafty) Village

Our guest blogger today isJenny Gordy fromWiksten Made.

My husband and I have moved across country due to his job more times than I care to recount. Moving often can make it hard to connect to places, but some towns have such a lovely sense of community that reels you right in. The last place in which I left my heart was Brooklyn, and I never thought Id find a place I felt so at home in ever again. Fast forward a year, and I am living and established in Iowa.

A year ago I only knew two people in Iowa, but now I feel like Im part of a community. Ive come to learn that community is not something that just happens its something that is built out of courage, hard work, enthusiasm, and creativity.

Rarely have I felt such a sense of community as I did recently at the Tree Huggers event in downtown Iowa City, when the residents of my town came together to create a public art installation. Over 200 volunteers knitted colorful tree huggers to cover 135 downtown trees, bringing cheer to an otherwise drab season. The downtown businesses donated the yarn, and Home Ec. Workshop my favorite yarn shop helped to organize the event and offered free knitting lessons to the non-knitters eager to participate.

Volunteers had one month to design and knit their tree huggers. Although they were all given the same yarn and color palette for an overall cohesive effect, the creativity and individuality of each design was quite evident.

On the day of the installation, everyone was giddy with excitement. Materials were distributed, and families, friends and strangers joined together to sew their work around assigned trees. People pitched in and helped each other. I felt honored to be included as passersby stopped to admire, chatting and asking questions. We were not only creating a thing of beauty, but also celebrating our town, each other, nature, and our favorite craft. I marveled at the strength and ingenuity of the creators of this project as I felt a part of something for the first time in quite a while. It was pure joy.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Our Holiday Book Club Pick

Welcome back, book clubbers! My family lives in Maine, so my turkey day was a bit chilly but very cozy and gave me lots of time to curl up with our new book club pick.

Given that November and December are filled with holidays and parties, we decided to tackle just one more before the new year. Well go back to our regular schedule for January, but for now, Im happy to announce that our final tome for 2012 is Ian McEwans Sweet Tooth.

copies on my desk, eagerly awaiting distribution

From the publisher:

Cambridge student Serena Fromes beauty and intelligence make her the ideal recruit for MI5.The year is 1972.The Cold War is far from over.Englands legendary intelligence agency is determined to manipulate the cultural conversation by funding writers whose politics align with those of the government.The operation is code named Sweet Tooth.

Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is the perfect candidate to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer named Tom Haley.At first, she loves his stories.Then she begins to love the man.How long can she conceal her undercover life?To answer that question, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage:trust no one.

Stay tuned throughout the next few weeks for teaser questions, party ideas, and our feedback. As always, let us know if youre reading along!

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Pretty, Painless Entertaining

Childhood friends Lisa Spagnolo and Tricia Hyland noticed a glaring discrepancy at their friends dinner parties. The hosts would spend hours cooking an elaborate farm-to-table meal, but dinner was served on plastic plates with little presentation. A year and a half ago, they devised a solution.

Taking into consideration a renewed interest in vintage and the prohibitively high price of fancy new china, Spagnolo and Hyland concocted a brilliant business concept: a one-stop online shopcalledDinner Partythat sells and rents vintage tabletop wares, bar carts, and accessories for pretty and painless entertaining.

Tricia Hyland (left) and Lisa Spagnolo

Thrifting together since getting their drivers licenses, the women had not only developed an expertise in the art of the hunt, but they knew each others shopping styles. Spagnolo, who also runs a fashion line selling handbags, vintage clothing, and accessories, responds immediately to aesthetics. Hyland, on the other hand, studied art history and carefully selects objects after researching their original use and provenance. Combining forces, they curate a timeless, well-balanced collection.

The creative duo kindly offered their tips putting a vintage twist on your holiday spread and swapping snowman-covered plastic plates for reclaimed classics.

1. Use tableware youll be incorporating later in the meal as decor. For example, stack different teacups and saucers at least three high in the center of the table before taking them down when youre ready to serve tea and coffee with dessert.

2. Always remember lighting. Go for vintage brass candlesticks paired with artisan taper candles to contrast delicate china, or place floating candles in vintage coupe glasses. Dont hold back: The more candles, the merrier.

3. Use a vintage cake stand for the cheese and nut course. For added visual interest, and surface for snacks, stack a few stands on top of each other.

4. Add color to the table by using a few shades of glasses or tumblers as vases. You just need a few flowers per glass and youre set.

5. Use a bar cart for serving portions of each course. Youll save precious real estate by moving that space-hogging punch bowl off the main dining table. Plus, you can create a sweet vignette of serving pieces and edibles to add to the party vibe.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

8 Etsyfied Advent Calendars

As a kid, I loved the thrill of ticking away the days until the holiday. The time-honored tradition is ripe for reinvention and Etsy vendors are getting in the Christmas spirit this year with advent calendars that go a step beyond traditional. Here are a few of our favorites.

1. This advent calendar uses clothespinsfor a little twist on traditional. ($11.30)

2. We would use thesewooden spools as a pretty decoration any time of year. ($47)

3. Its easy to add or remove the metal tins from this calendar, thanks to handy magnets. ($50)

4. Hide sweet little treats in these linen bags tied with a white satin ribbon. ($38)

5. Print this adorable owl and have kids add his colorful feathers each day. ($3)

6. These felt fortune cookies are stuffed with gifts instead of fortunes. Sew them up yourself, then string them together. ($10)

7. Bring a hint of classic Christmas decor into your home with a vintage garland advent calendar. ($4)

8.Recycled sheet music becomes a collection of countdown envelopes when strung together as a garland. ($25)

How will you mark the days until Christmas this year?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Playing Santa with A Merry Mishap

When were looking for the perfect holiday gift, we often turn to our favorite tastemakers. Today, we asked Jennifer Hagler ofA Merry MishapandAMM Jewelry, what shell be gifting this year. A dedicated supporter of smaller shops and handmade products, she scouredEtsyfor ideas for everyone on her list.

1.Envelope Clutch
Roxy Marj makes these adorable soft clutches that look like paper envelopes ($32).

2.Cloud Pillows
For the little gift recipients, check out these adorable hand-knitted pillows ($58).

3.My Moon, My Man Tee
Like a lot of other men, my husband is a tee shirt and jeans kind of guy. This hand-printed tee would be perfect ($25).

4.Peppermint Soap
Everyone uses soap, and its even better when it smells like peppermint ($7).

5. Dipped Earrings
My black and silver-dipped geo earrings are one of my best sellers and fitting for all times of the year, not to mention special occasions ($24).

6. Superhero Shoe Wings
My son owns these shoe wings and thinks hes so cool when he wears them ($24)!

7.Washi Tape
For the perpetual crafter, washi tape is the best! Cait from Ink Kit stocks lots of fun, bright colors ($4).

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkey Day Twitter Tips

A hearty, comforting meal can cancel out quarrels normally brought about by piling family members into the same room. In that spirit, we turned our Twitter feed over to intrepid Everyday Food editors Sam Seneviratne and Merritt Wattsfor answers to your most burning turkey day questions.

@MeganVermins:Is there any way to save soggy Brussels sprouts that didnt quite get caramelized?

You could spread them out on a roasting pan and try to broil them a bit but, honestly, it might be too late! The best way to prevent your Brussels sprouts from getting soggy in the first place is to give them plenty of space in the pan. If theyre too close together, they will steam instead of caramelizing.

@cavanshays:What is a good sweet potato dish recipe? Marshmallows make it feel too much like Lucky Charms.

Our own staff is pretty divided on the marshmallow debate, which is why weve developed these marshmallow-less sweet potato sides over the years. Try one!

Maple-Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Spiced Honey-Glazed Sweet Potato Wedges

Sweet Potato Gratin

@dmosbergen:Any good gluten-free side dish and dessert suggestions?

Stuffing is the main side dish my gluten-free friends miss on Thanksgiving, but its easy to adapt any classic stuffing recipe by using gluten-free sandwich bread. Or, try a wild rice stuffing.For dessert, serve a gluten-free pumpkin bread alongside your pumpkin pie. Its such a delicious twist on tradition, you might want to make enough to let everyone in on the action!

@stblissout:What can you REALLY make ahead (besides desserts) and not notice a difference in taste?

The best thing to do ahead of time is make your cranberry sauce. It tastes great after 2 or 3 days in the fridge. Also, prepping and chopping vegetables always takes longer than you think its going to take, so its a good idea to get that task out of the way, too. For a list of the 5 best do-ahead Thanksgiving kitchen tasks, check out the Everyday Food Blog.

@clairebowyer:Joined a CSA and have a jillion turnips. Any good recipes to make these tubers tasty for T-giving?

Good question! Its such a smart idea to use seasonal produce at Thanksgiving. (Hey, you know its what the Pilgrims did!) Any of these recipes are bound to get your whole table excited about turnips really!

Honey-Glazed Turnips

Turnip and Potato Mash

Turnip and Sweet Potato Gratin

Roasted Turnip Wedges with Parmesan

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Turntable Kitchens Thanksgiving Playlist

Festive, not cliche. Mellow, not sleepy. Creating the perfect Thanksgiving dinner soundtrack can be tough, so we sought the help of Matthew Hickey, co-founder ofTurntable Kitchena website dedicated to developing fresh, innovative recipes with hand-selected musical pairings. Matthew created a special Thanksgiving playlist just for Martha Stewart readers (click play below).

I wanted the overall vibe to be lush and slightly rustic, explains Matthew. I started the mix out with an upbeat tune: something that would be appropriate for that busy, lively moment when everyone is crowding around the table and getting ready to sit down. From there I wanted it to mellow out a little while everyone passes around the food, but while maintaining a fun, quirky vibe. Finally, I favored songs about those things were most often thankful for such as family, friends, and loved ones.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Guest Pinner: Erica of P.S. I Made This

Weve had a bit of a crush on Erica Domesek for quite a while. As the founder of the DIY lifestyle brand P.S. I made this, shes an innovative crafter and style maven with the motto I see it. I like it. I make it.

Obviously, we like that.

For the next two weeks, Erica will be guest pinning for Martha Stewart Living, sharing her favorite holiday projects and style inspiration. Click here to see her board now.

You can also follow Erica on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+, and be sure to check out her first book here. And dont forget to follow all the other MSL Pinterest boards as well!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

To Brine or Not to Brine?

turkey in brine

Over the years, our test kitchen editors have created dozens and dozens of delicious turkey recipes, some of which call for brining, and some of which do not. Which begs the question: Is brining really necessary for a moist and delicious bird?

We asked Lucinda Scala Quinn, Livings Executive Editorial Director of Food and host ofMad Hungry, and Sarah Carey, Everyday Foods Editor in Chief, to confess their true feelings about brining. Both agreed that the technique is a foolproof option for beginners, but that theres more than one way to turn out an incredible bird.

Lucinda says: Brining is a great safety net.

I recommend different things for different times and different cooks. I am not firm about one way because if you are a less experienced cook, brining leaves room for some margin of error, keeping the bird moist if youre shy about cooking accuracy. Thats why the turkey recipein my Mad Hungry bookcalls for brining.

My columnin Novembers issue explains how I actually do it on Thanksgiving but Ive done it so much that I have the process down. Nothing more than salt and pepper and olive oil and a lot of TLC and patience. [Sarahs favorite method] of early salting/reverse osmosis is cool but, truth is, I never get my act together til the last minute.

Sarah says: I skip it for a salt rub.

Sarah's Citrus-Salt Rubbed Turkey

Sarah's Citrus-Salt Rubbed Turkey

To be honest, my mom makes the turkey every Thanksgiving What can I say? Im a pie lady myself! But if I were going to do anything other than what my mom always does (basting with orange juice concentrate and butter), Id skip the traditional wet brining and do a dry brine instead. Not because the results of a wet brine arent delicious (they are!) but because brining is so messy and takes up way too much room in my kitchen.

The Thanksgiving turkey recipe we developed for Everyday Food this year calls for an overnight salt rub, which is my favorite method. Some people call it dry brining but, because the liquid isnt reabsorbed via osmosis, its not technically brining at all. (Isnt science fun?) But the technique adds such great flavor especially when you add herbs and citrus zest to the salt rub, like we did and results in a nice, crisp skin. This rub also works as a last minute thing too, so if you forget to rub the night before, dont worry, there is still time. Throw it on right before you roast and it will still add lots of flavor. Who doesnt want that?

Where do you stand on brining? Do you swear by it or skip it?

For more inspiration, get Lucindas Slow-Grilled Turkeyrecipeand SarahsCitrus-Rubbed Turkey with Cider Gravyrecipe.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

The Gift of a Meal

Our guest blogger today is Elizabeth Rowan Chandler, Director of Communications at Feeding America.

Looking back, I think it was something my grandmother said to me years ago that led me to join the hunger-relief movement.

One year, I was helping my grandmother, Anne, peel chestnuts for her traditional Thanksgiving stuffing, when she paused suddenly to gesture over the many dishes of potatoes, green beans and casseroles shed spent days preparing. Do you know why I enjoy cooking all of this for my family? she asked. It was a lot of work, but Anne always seemed to do it with pleasure. She explained, When you give someone something to eat, you give them strength, you give them comfort, and you let them know that someone cares for them. Thats what food does for a person.

Anne understood what it meant to always have enough food in the house to always know that there would be dinner or breakfast or something to offer a hungry guest. Having grown up in poverty, she also knew too well what it felt like to have none.

Sadly, too many families struggle to put enough food on the table not just during the holidays, but every day of the year. Right here in America, more than 50 million people face hunger. And Feeding America research shows that hunger exists in every county in the nation even in the wealthiest. To help people facing hunger, Feeding America and its nationwide network of food banks provide meals to 37 million people in need each year, educate the public about the issue of hunger, and advocate for legislation that protects low-income families from going hungry.

With so many people facing hunger, Feeding America is fortunate to be participating in Thanks for Giving, the Martha Stewart Living campaign to fight hunger in America. Martha Stewart Living will award cash prizes to the top three hunger-relief organizations that raise the most money through Crowdrise, a platform that helps charities raise funds to support their work. But its not just about winning the prize the goal is to raise as much money as possible to help dozens of organizations feed people this holiday season and beyond.

When we provide people with food, we provide them with so much more. This holiday season, help feed people in your community and across the nation. Make a donation through the Thanks for Giving initiative or visit Feeding America to learn about other ways you can help fight hunger. Together, we can ensure that people have enough to eat this holiday season and all year long.

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Guest Pinner: Jan from Poppytalk

If youve never heard of Poppytalk, prepare to have your DIY world rocked. Based in Vancouver, this blog and onlinemarketplacefeatures a selection of curated and themed handmade and vintage goods from around the world. Its packed with inspiration and ideas supporting the beautiful, the artfully decayed, and the handmade. Jan Halvarson and her husband, Earl Einarson, started the blog in 2005, and its grown into one of the most beloved design blogs on the web featuring everything from delectable recipes to simple tutorials.

Can you tell why we love them as much as we do?

Today, were thrilled to announce that Jan will be joining us as a guest pinner on Pinterest for the next month. Follow her board here for Poppytalk-style holiday inspiration. (You can also follow Poppytalk on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest!)

And dont forget to follow the rest of the Martha Stewart Living boards for endless inspiration from around the Web.

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Darcy Millers Thankful Tree and Tabletop

I love Thanksgiving, so when Good Morning America asked me for decorating ideas, I created this easy family activity and kids table.My favorite part is that all this decor can be created ahead of time (like this weekend!), so you can get your table out of the way to make time for baking pie or roasting turkey next week. If you dont get to it this weekend, just shop for supplies: The supplies are affordable and the projects are easy enough that they could even be created the night before.

This Thankful Tree is a sweet centerpiece you can craft ahead of time and its perfect for teaching kids what Thanksgiving is really about. To make it, get branches from your yard or local florist (I used curly willow) and cut paper leaves from construction paper. Youll just need asmall piece of double stick tape to attach the foliage to your branches.

(Sources: Gold paper from Paper Source embellished with Martha Stewart Crafts Deep Edge Punch from Michaels, pillar candles from Colonial Candle, gold paint for pumpkins from Martha Stewart Craft Paint, chocolate turkeys from Godiva, birch rounds for trivets from SaveonCrafts).

When people arrive or just as they sit down to eat, ask guests to pick a leaf and write what theyre thankful for. Go around table and read the leaves, then add them to your scrapbook when the holiday is over. (Its so nice to read these year after year.)

(Source: Paper leaves from Courtney McFarland)

I like to have a special table for the kids at Thanksgiving. Decorating is simple: Just have children draw designs on a brown craft paper tablecloth with crayons, stickers, and stamps. Paper cups can be embellished with glitter leaf stickers and flameless, battery-poweredcandles will make kids feel like grown-ups.

(Sources: Amscan turkey table decorating kit from Party City;orange paper napkins and gold paper drinking cups from Party City; glittered leaf stickers from Martha Stewart Crafts; paper turkeys and orange table runner from PaperSource; battery flickering candles from Saveoncrafts; coloring crayons from Melissa and Doug; wood table with chairs from Ikea;wood plates and flatware from

Candy cups filled with candy and popcorn become ships when you adorn them with my Mayflower template. You can also attach our template to a skewer, then stand it in a cup full of treats.

(Source: Gold paper candy cups, New York Cake and Bake)

Treats are not just for eating! These treats add color and fun to table decor.

(Sources: Martha Stewart Collection Serveware from Macys, cylinders from

Menu cards are a fun way to let guests know whats to come. You can also add personal touches, like identifying which courses are family recipes.

(Sources: Cornucopia menu clip art, pilgrim menu clip art, turkey menu clip art, paper from Paper Source, cylinders from

Check out Good Morning America for great deals and offers on materials used in the segment, including 50 percent off on my favorite Martha Stewart Crafts punches and paints!

Photos: Charlotte Jenks Lewis

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Friday, November 16, 2012

The 9 Most-Pinned Thanksgiving Crafts

This post is brought to you by Old Navy, proud sponsor of innovative crafts and DIY projects everywhere. See more of Old Navys favorite DIY inspiration here.

Ugly matching sweaters. Grandmas goopy gravy.If youre like us, there are probably some Thanksgiving traditions youd rather retire. So we pulled together our Pinterest followers favorite Thanksgiving crafts to inspire use all to put a fresh, personal touch on the holidays.

1. Copper-Leaf Gourds

Take a shine to this clever Thanksgiving decor craft its been repinned almost 200 times!

2. Paper-Bag Turkey

Even herbivores wont object to this kid-friendly turkey craft.

3. Cork-Board Leaf Trivets

Elegant, inexpensive, and takes only seconds to make no wonder this craft has been re-pinned well over 2,000 times.

4. Walnut Place Card Holders

Perfect for busy hosts, this project can be put together while the pies are baking.

5. Flaming Foliage Candleholders

Seasonal colors come alive in these easy-to-make autumnal candleholders.

6. Bath Fizzies

Make a big batch of these now and be set for hostess gifts through the end of the year and you can be sure theyll love it. (Over 900 pins cant be wrong!)

7. Card Tree

Dont wait until Christmas to get your seasonal cards on display.

8. Great Pumpkins Centerpiece

Use up any pumpkins leftover from Halloween by hollowing them out to create an eye-catching vase.

9. Painted Glass Votive Candleholders

Get in on the dip-dye trend with this Thanksgiving craft, which has been pinned over 3,500 times!

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Book Club Party: This Is How You Lose Her

Our MSL Book Club got a bit delayed at the end of October after Sandy hit. A delayed meeting was the least of our worries, and we are so happy that most of the East Coast is settling back down. Our office was closed for 7 days, but when we got back in, we found that a food drive had already been set up to benefit Food Bank of NYC. Much recovery work is still needed and if you are nearby or able, check out this list of ways to help.

Now! back to our regularly scheduled book club programming: First of all, congratulations to Junot Diaz on his nomination for a National Book Award. Diaz has had quite the autumn, and we were so excited to see him get this recognition. In honor of Diazs collection of short stories that center around love (in all forms), we got together this week over lunch to discuss the book, and celebrate things short and sweet.

brownie bites and book club: a perfect combination!

A few of us brought in mini baked goods (little cookies, small rugelach, and bite-sized brownies) to kick off the theme, and we set to work discussing all the small print. See after the jump for some of our thoughts and to find out who won our giveaway!

Be careful, and read on ONLY if youve read the book

  • We really liked how each story stood on its own, but that they were all connected through Yunior. The one story he wasnt featured in, Otravida, Otravez, was also the only story that came from a female point of view.It felt like a nice breather for the collection, something to give us a womans perspective before coming back to the misogyny of Yunior and his family, but it almost came a moment too soon. It struck the perfect note, I just wish it had appeared a little later in the book.
  • Yuniors adult life was clearly shaped by his relationships in childhood with his father (omnipresent even in abandonment) and his brother, Rafa. He hates the way they treated women but following Rafas death, he begins to act in a similar manner. He is introspective to a fault, no doubt encouraged by his otherness in a predominantly white world, but cant turn that self-analysis into action, repeatedly making the same mistakes and feeling hurt by them.
  • We loved Diazs use of Spanglish throughout the book: It grounded us in an environment that could have easily been exclusive and instead of making the reader feel out of the loop, we felt part of Yuniors world. It also helped to seamlessly transition us, along with Yunior, from his family life to the life he was making for himself.

Congratulations to Kim S for winning our giveaway! Your copy of the book is winging its way to you (with a mini-care package from us at MSL) right now! Let us know what you think as you read!

Check back in next week to find out what were reading in November and December

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Calendar With Heart

In the third week of Superstorm Sandy aftermath, many are still without homes or electricity. Designer Jenna Park created a lovely 2013 calendar featuring images of the Big Apple, and this month, shes donating 30% of sales to hurricane recovery.

I was raised here in New York by immigrant parents, so NYC has always been home, and to our family it also represented the American Dream, Jenna says. Growing up in the city since the 1970s, I have seen it go through a lot of changes and adversity, but this is a city that cares, can mobilize into action, and is incredibly resilient.

With the calendar proceeds, Jenna is making donations to NY-area relief organizations including Project Hospitality and the Ali Forney Drop-In Center. Shes also using a portion of the funds to buy supplies requested by distribution and relief centers.

Most of the proceeds at this point have been in the form of supplies delivered to local shelters like The Park Slope Armory, which is housing mostly disabled and elderly evacuees from the storm and The Red Hook Initiative and Occupy Sandy, which have acted as distribution centers mostly run by volunteers to shuttle people and supplies to areas most impacted by the hurricane, Jenna says.

Just recently, Jennas husband Mark (genius pastry chef of Brooklyn confectionary Whimsy & Spice) purchased and dropped off 500 aluminum and foil serving containers at The Red Hook initiative for meal distributions.

Kick off 2013 with the City That Never Sleeps, and help with its recovery efforts in the meantime! Check out thecalendar on Jenna & Marks Whimsy & Spicewebsite or Etsy shop.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Sommeliers Top Thanksgiving Wine Picks

Paul Grieco, co-owner and wine director of New York Citys Hearth Restaurant and Terroir wine bars, is a known champion of unusual wines. In an effort to think beyond our typical Thanksgiving reds, we turned to the winner of the 2012 James BeardOutstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional Award for his top pairing choices to go with a traditional Thanksgiving feast. The bonus? Griecos commentary was just as bright and offbeat as his tastes.

The wine: Schoffit ChasselasVieilles Vignes (Pinot Blanc/Pinot Auxerrois)
The vintage: 2010
The region:
Alsace, France
The price:
The reasoning:On Americas great day, we send a vinous salute to Frederic Bartholdi, the Alsatian-born designer of the Statue of Liberty.

The wine: Nigl Riesling Dornleiten
The vintage: 2011
The region: Kremstal, Austria
The price: $27
The reasoning:Lets be honest, Riesling goes with everything and I mean EVERYTHING and that includes everything on your Thanksgiving plate!

The wine: Hatzidakis Nikteri
The vintage: 2008
The region: Santorini, Greece
The price: $29
The reasoning: From the home of democracy comes challenging white wine, filled with vim and vigor. It might even be a little revolutionary.

The wine: Tzora Vineyards Shoresh
The vintage:2009
The region: Judean Hills, Israel
The price:$33
The reasoning: To the Holy Lands we go for a masterpiece of balance one could even say it is divinely inspired.

The wine:Frank CornelissenMunjebel 4
The vintage: Nonvintage
The region: Sicily, Italy
The price:$60 (but its worth the splurge)
The reasoning: If you thought Grandmas basement smelled funky, wait until you encounter this wine. Grape juice never smelled so odd and so glorious. It is sure to provoke conversation.

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Meet the Maker: Animal Sculptress Sabina Gibson

Sabina Gibson, 34, is the creator behind Mount Royal Mint, a veritable zoo of an Etsy shop of fantastical animal sculptures. Based in Montreal, she works in video and television, but on the side creates narwhals, unicornaments, spirit bears, custom pet portraits, and folksy foxes from wool and felt.

What inspired your spirit bears?
The spirit bears are my favorite. Theyre a free form of expression for me. When I first completed the bear shape, I found the form itself very eye pleasing and sculptural. At that point I knew what I wanted to do. There are endless amounts of folk stories and myths to draw inspiration from, but I mostly enjoy making them up myself. I like to invent their backgrounds and origins and write little folktales about each one.

How did you get started with soft sculpture?
When I was young, I loved stuffed animals. I never owned a Barbie. So its kind of interesting that I now design my own brand of animal characters. It all started one day when my boyfriend (and current husband) discovered a lump of socks that looked like a creature. For fun we began adding limbs and more facial features, and from there it just evolved.

You live in a beautiful place. Does Montreal inform your work?
Montreal is a magical city. There is a real quality of life here that is perfect for fostering creativity and innovation, which is why we ended up moving here. But I would say a great deal of my inspiration that shaped my style as an artist came from living in Taipei. The design style there is so fun and fantastic. The city buses are pink and the garbage trucks play Beethoven. Cuteness rules popular culture. Mascots are huge celebrities, and not just for kids.

Whats the key to getting a pet portrait just right?
I would say the greatest point of expression comes from the eyes. It is the most important detail. Even though they are often not much more than two dots on a face, if they are not done right, it can throw off your whole piece.

Lovely. Now, please fill in the blanks

Having my own business is:extremely rewarding.

If I werent doing this, I would:make movies or work with animals.

Creating makes me feel:human.

I find inspiration in:films, music, fashion, art, and freaks of nature.

I do my best work:when I am not trying to do my best work.

The best advice I can give is:be true to your own vision and ideas.

My definition of success is:being happy doing what you love most every day.

Three things Id like to learn are:drums, animatronics, and kung fu.

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