Author Archives: Michelle Jones

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Fab Four: My Favorite Holiday Craft Ideas from Martha Stewart Living Magazine

MSL covers and ornaments.jpgSome holiday craft ideas become part of our annual Christmas traditions. These fabulous four from Martha Stewart Living are the ones MiChelle Jones turns to again and again.

I frequently find inspiration in magazines. Usually it’s an outfit or decorating scheme I want to re-create, or a book or an exhibition I want to see.

Every now and then, however, I get out my art supplies and try a project based on something I’ve seen in a magazine.

Many of the projects I’ve attempted are from the holiday issues of Martha Stewart Living magazine and the results become part of my decorating or celebrating traditions.

Since Martha Stewart Living is kicking off its 20th anniversary with the December 2010 issue, I thought I’d look back at some of my favorite holiday projects from over the years. Surprisingly none of my favorite craft projects made the “20 Years of Good Things” feature in the current magazine. Hmph, editors, what do they know?

  • Translucent wrapping paper. Back in December 2001, Martha Stewart Living suggested wrapping presents in translucent paper. Simple enough. The special touch comes in making a series of folds and creases in the glassine or tissue paper to create patterns. This is a particularly effective treatment for books, magazines or anything else that comes in beautiful packaging of its own. My take on this is to use tracing paper leftover from design projects and to simulate a plaid pattern.
  • Fortune cookies. There were directions for making paper fortune cookies in that December 2001 issue too. The idea was to use the cookies as bill holders, sliding the cash and a New Year’s prediction inside. I like the cookies simply for the shape and use them as gift toppers on presents packed in “food” takeaway boxes with a holiday or birthday message as the “fortune.”
  • Snowflakes and doilies. Last Christmas, I combined two ideas I found in the December 2006 Martha Stewart Living magazine. One was paper snowflakes suspended with monofilament, the other was using paper doilies to adorn gifts. The doily idea was from a feature recapping 15 years of packing ideas and was originally used in a 2004 feature on Valentine’s Day gifts. I combined the two ideas when I topped dramatic snowflake paper with a large paper snowflake.
  • Shopping bag ornaments. These are probably my all-time favorites, from the December 2005 issue. Tiny paper shopping bags with twine handles and stuffed with tissue paper (such a lovely detail). That first year I used a lot of the tiny bags and I loved the homemade touch they added to the tree; last year I only used ones that tied into my red, silver and white color scheme.



O, the Oprah Magazine Discovers the Fountain of Aging and Youthfulness

o_the_oprah_magazine_subscription_may2011.jpgEvery issue of O, the Oprah Magazine seems like a theme issue, and May is no exception. This time around the emphasis is on aging gracefully and being content at every age.

Here’s how the magazine approaches the aging issues.

Whaddya Think?: You probably already know how you feel about getting older; on the other hand, you might be surprised by what your answers to this month’s quiz reveal about your thoughts.

Steal This Story: Each month Real Simple magazine spotlights a woman who’s aging really well in its “This Is What __ Looks Like” feature. In May, O borrows that idea in a 10-page story packed with mini profiles of women acting their ages. Meet a 17-year-old who became the youngest African-American woman to pilot a round-trip coast-to-coast trip (she wants to be a cardiovascular surgeon when she grows up); a synchronized swim team whose members range from 50 year olds to octogenarians; a major in her early 20s; and a number of women who rediscovered youthful passions and dreams later in life.

Leading Ladies: O’s May fashion spread pairs two actresses: glamorous, groundbreaking 75-year-old Diahann Carroll and 34-year-old Kerry Washington.

Mind and Body: One story debunks common myths about the inevitable physical decline awaiting us all–and offers exercises to check the ravages of time. The next story points out the good points of an older mind, including better problem-solving and people skills.

Mirror, Mirror: Considering altering the reflection you see in the mirror? This story uses befores and retouched afters to illustrate the possible results of a variety of treatments and procedures starting with makeup tricks and firming creams and progressing to lasers and injections and on to surgery. A glossary of terms and procedures is included at the end of the story.

At Any Age: Young women with gray hair or vintage wardrobes, older women wearing short skirts, bare arms and long hair. All throwing conventional wisdom to the wind and doing what looks and feels best for them.


Ready for Swimsuit Season? A Couple of May Magazines Are

o_the_oprah_magazine_subscription_may2011.jpgAre you ready for swimsuit season? Fit MagaScene blogger Summer Huggins noticed a story about getting into bikini shape in one of her February magazines. Well, sure, swimwear begins appearing on retail racks in January for the winter cruise season. They generally show up in magazines a few months later–two magazines in May offer some of the first previews of swimsuit season.

First up is Real Simple magazine with 19 suits spread over 10 pages. There are bikinis, tankinis and one-pieces; patterns and solids; ruching, ruffles, strings and brooches–all chosen to complement grown-up bodies with grown-up issues. The models for the section have noticeably different body shapes, though they are a far cry from the “average” women featured in some of last year’s swimsuit stories.

Two pages of the Real Simple story show suits–six per page, sans model–grouped by body type. Full bust? Underwire tops and large cups. Bit of a tummy? Go pattern mad or choose a bikini with a fold-over waistband. Lots of options here and some very nice suits: reversible bottoms; that’s like two suits in one.

O, the Oprah Magazine also covers swimsuits in May, with a one-page collection of eight suits costing less than $100. In addition to price, the suits were chosen for their solutions to common body concerns: a high-contrast design slims downs figures, while a collage of stripes (inspired by Barbie’s 1959 suit perhaps?) calls attention to the waistline on trim bodies. The mix of styles includes a few very glamorous designs, among them a striking red retro cut with white polka dots.


Two May Magazines Provide a Window on Curtains This Spring

real_simple_magazine_subscription_may2011.jpgWindow treatments can put the exclamation point on a well designed room, or they can just cover the windows. If you want to move yours from the latter to the former, check out two stories on curtains in May magazines.

Better Homes and Gardens magazine offers a quick one-page guide to curtains. The piece concentrates on ready-made panels–one of the most convenient and affordable window treatments–and provides information on choosing the right length and width, how to hang them, and how to make them energy efficient for hot and cold weather.

For a more detailed and illustrated guide, turn to Real Simple magazine‘s four-page story that opens with an almost-full-page photograph of a sunny room draped in bright yellow curtains. With input from two drapery consultants and Real Simple’s decorating editors, the story walks readers through 10 steps toward choosing the perfect window coverings.

Starting with function, which will help determine whether you should go with lined or unlined curtains; then moving along to fabric and color based on the feel and color scheme of the room. Length and width, heading (that’s the top part of the curtain), and different kinds of rods are also discussed.


Fan of Decorator Elaine Griffin? Here’s Where to Find Her in May Magazines

better_homes_and_gardens_magazine_subscription_may2011.jpgIf you’re a fan of decorator Elaine Griffin, you’ll enjoy your May magazine subscriptions.

In Better Homes and Gardens magazine‘s May “Color” column, contributing editor Griffin discusses lightening your decor by incorporating a range of blues in shades drawn from the sky and sea. Among her tips: Use pillows to add a punch of citrus and use darker shades of blue in rooms exposed to lots of natural light, paler shades in rooms with less exposure.

For a glimpse into Griffin’s personal decorating style, see the spreads of her apartment in May’s Elle Decor magazine. Griffin shares a 1,000-foot apartment in an 1890s Harlem brownstone with her husband of just over two years. Here the only blue visible is the midnight blue on the bedroom’s walls; the room is also decorated with richly colored Indian tapestries, vibrant lithographs from a Parisian gallery, and an antique wedding sari.

The home has a decidedly masculine color scheme with walls in black, British khaki, olive and forest green; a heady mix of antiques and near-antiques found in Parisian flea markets; and a dash of IKEA here and there. In the Elle Decor story, Griffin talks about marrying her vision for the apartment with that of her husband–the space also reflects the blend of comfort, accessibility and elegance found in her interior design work.


All Abuzz Over a Kitchen Makeover in May’s House Beautiful Magazine

house_beautiful_magazine_subscription_may2011.jpgKitchens and bathrooms sell houses, according to the real estate adage. Maybe that’s why House Beautiful magazine features a kitchen and bath of the month in each issue.

In May, the spotlight kitchen is a large outdoor space equipped with a grill (of course), fridge drawers, ice maker, pizza oven, two cooktops, etc. Wow. And no worries about inclement weather; this outdoor kitchen is in Massachusetts, so the appliances, countertops and other materials and elements were all chosen for their weather-worthiness.

The kitchen that really caught my attention, however, was the one in this month’s “Makeover Bee Cottage” column. If you’ve got a House Beautiful magazine subscription, you may be following along as contributing editor Frances Schultz walks readers through the remodel of her cottage, one room at a time, one month at a time.

She’s now reached the kitchen. It’s a lovely unassuming galley kitchen whose narrow footprint Schultz has opted to preserve. Galley kitchens are wonderful for their efficient use of space–who needs a stadium kitchen? The Bee Cottage kitchen is a lovely mix of old and new: Spiffed up original cabinetry looks smashing next to new top-of-the-line appliances; ceramic tile floors beautifully mimic ones made of old oak; and a multipaned door at the end of the kitchen floods the area with light.

What’s better than a galley kitchen? A galley kitchen with a butler’s pantry at one end. Oh, bliss. This area incorporates a small desk area and bookshelves and has a dramatic teal ceiling (avid followers of the column might recognize the hue from April’s account of the guest room renovation). Glass-front cabinets and lots and lots of drawers complete the 1920s charm of this fantastic space.