I love the photo work in this magazine. It is so signature "martha" and fresh and crisp. It makes me feel good to look at the pictures. I also find that the crafts and recipes are good yet basic, so I feel inspired to let loose and improvise on what's there.
In short, this magazine is designed to make people (like me!) feel good, and that is why I like it.
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.
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.
This publication is fairly representative of a Martha Stewart universe that is, in my opinion, the heart of evil in America. Martha shares her thoughts on having the finest in hand crafted furniture, culinary delights and entertaining tips. She fails to point out that these labor intensive recipes, decorating tips and party plans are difficult if not impossible to acheive by the modern working woman without the benefit of paid labor. She holds out a standard less than realistic to most families and seems to strive to make women who don't reach her ideal feel deeply guilty.
Why not one star? Well, my wife pointed out this recipe for chestnut stuffing in her last issue that was quite good......curse her.
I used to really enjoy reading MSL but as of late I find I am looking at this magazine saying, "Why?". It has wonderful pictures and a nice layout but many of her decorating ideas and projects are just too cumbersome and really not that interesting. I am finding fewer and fewer interesting articles that I want to read in it. I do however still like the recipes it includes and suggestions for table settings and entertaining. It is worth looking at for those areas but otherwise forget it, save your money.
Martha sometimes has some great recipes, "a good thing" that is really innovative, or just some wonderful decorating ideas. Unfortunately, the book has taken new turns into areas that really aren't interesting/practical to read about. For example, is it necessary to actually feature ice fishing & the little houses people build so they can ice fish? Do I want to read about bats, their habits, & view close-up pictures of them? Not really-not as a MSL subscriber. A true disappointment the past few months. I do hope it gets better & really goes back to what the magazine once was-great ideas, beautiful pictures, & interesting articles.
I have had a hard time, not only finding the ingredients for recipes and crafts, but also getting them to work out the way they claim they should in the magazine.
it's true, she's kind of too perfect...i relish stories about how difficult she is. i realize, however, that it comes from pure jealousy. who else but martha can make pine cones and dried grass look glamorous rather than "kountry"? who but martha can whip up canapes for 40, while shingling her roof and washing her dog? no one. this magazine is for the meticulous, or those lucky souls with tons of extra time on their hands. martha is the leona helmsley of entertaining. be her guest, not one of her staff, and you're guaranteed to be impressed.
Martha Stewart Living is a good magazine, but definetely not worth the price you pay. There is an overabudance of advertisements which would lead one to believe that the price should be somewhat lower. In comparison to other magazines of the same content, it looks like they are trying to make a profit from both advertisers and subscribers. However, it does have a lot of good information!
I really didn't like this magazine that well. I don't feel that I can relate to the articles, and that is what good journalism is all about.