Author Archives: Michelle Jones


Matthew Sporzynski’s Clever Color-Chip Ads Are Back

real_simple_subscription_april2011.jpgThose clever, colorful Sherwin-Williams ads featuring paper sculpture by Matthew Sporzynski are back and appearing in April issues of House Beautiful magazine and Real Simple.

As you may remember, Sporzynski created a series of Sherwin-Williams ads using color-chip constructions last spring as part of a McKinney-designed campaign that also included animated TV commercials.

This spring’s print ad features a two-tiered birthday cake made of blue and pink chips, with yellow chip piping and flowers in greens, blues and lavenders. Five white candles with yellow flames top the cake.

Sporzynski’s work is often found in Real Simple magazine; last fall he also created fabulous oversize bows and ribbons for Better Homes and Gardens magazine‘s December issue.

Now here’s something else: Chinet is also using a birthday cake sculpture motif in its latest ads. As seen in Martha Stewart Living magazine and Better Homes and Gardens, the ads feature a three-tiered cake made of “cut crystal” plastic plates, saucers and a cup–and decorated with candles and piping.


5 Ways Better Homes and Gardens Magazine’s Gardening Issue Is in Full Bloom

better_homes_and_gardens_subscription_april2011.jpgBetter Homes and Gardens magazine‘s April issue is its annual gardening issue. Accordingly, it’s full of ideas for outdoor spaces, as well as bringing the outside in through tablescapes (and menus) and fabrics.

Here’s a sample of what the gardening issue has to offer:

  1. Sur la Table: A twig-like basket brimming with roses and ferns, a vase of branches with paper butterflies mixed in with the blooms, and recipes from chef Jamie Oliver’s vegetable garden are some of the suggested ways to bring the outside in this season.

  2. Plants and Products: Tiny tools, fashionable gardening shoes and new plant varieties.
  3. Nature’s Palette: Florals aren’t just for spring clothes, Better Homes and Gardens magazine shows off bloom-inspired towels and bath accessories; curtains and throw pillows in a colorful living space; and perky highlights in a remodeled kitchen. Oh, and a selection of floral wardrobe pieces.
  4. New Heights: Better Homes and Gardens’ monthly container gardening story suggest ways of adding height to container plantings using vines and a variety of supports.
  5. Spring Scents: Fragrant lilacs to plant, light floral scents to wear. Sneeze alert.

Get Cleaning, Stop Procrastinating With Your Real Simple Magazine Subscription

real_simple_subscription_april2011.jpgIt’s the perfect combination, really; a mini package about combating procrastination in an issue full of ideas about spring cleaning. This is the beauty of Real Simple magazine‘s April issue.

That beauty starts with the cover image of a fluffy yellow chick perched atop a stack of fresh, clean towels. Only Real Simple can make cleaning seem like something lovely and pleasant–when in reality, of course, it’s anything but. Inside are 28 plans and products to make cleaning quicker, ranging from 15 minutes to clean the fridge, getting stuck-on substances out of pots and pans (my solution is takeout!), and dealing with upholstery, mattresses and carpets.

This is old-fashioned, top-to-bottom spring cleaning.

And yet, the stories I found most fascinating were about ways to stop procrastinating. I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a few days now…just kidding.

The mini package includes seven approaches to getting on with things, things like breaking down big projects, tackling the most heinous thing first, or reassessing and restarting your day in the afternoon.

Perhaps the most inspired idea was to set aside a special “unprocrastination” day, preferably with a friend in tow. In the example given, Real Simple’s editor at large spends a day running long-neglected errands with a pal; I’ve had similar odysseys of errands–though it’s not that easy to convince friends to join me and rarer still to have such parallel lists. Still, having a plan of action and devoting a day or part of a day to the tasks is a good approach that is also effective.


April Magazine Subscriptions Have Me Delightfully Tangled up in Blue

I’m feeling kind of blue right now and it has nothing to do with being down in the dumps or cheering on my favorite basketball team, instead my blue mood comes from the blue hues on the April covers of some of my favorite magazines.

Skipping ones that merely have blue type on the cover, I’ll focus instead on those that send out an inescapable blue vibe.

These include:

  • Travel + Leisure magazine: This is the first issue of my new magazine subscription, so I’m delighted that its cover features a gorgeous late-evening shot of a French villa. The various shades of blue in the sky infuse the image with drama and make the issue seem that much more enticing.


  • Martha Stewart Living magazine: I can tell this is going to be one gorgeous issue full of spring and Easter from the clever cover photo of denim-blue and white eggs covered in patterns inspired by porcelain nestled in a white bowl whose curvy edges suggest a cracked egg. Decorating with blue is discussed in one of the issue’s features.


  • Elle Decor magazine: Going purely by Elle Decor’s April cover, you could easily think the magazine is devoted to travel because the room pictured has a lovely tropical feel with big plants and island colonial furniture. The featured room doesn’t actually have that many blue elements, but the porcelain jars (see egg comment above) and touches of blue in the artwork and books are picked up by the French blue logotype and navy cover blurbs.


  • Dwell magazine: Another example of pulling a strong color from the cover image for the type; in this case, cerulean blue.


  • Real Simple magazine: The stack of yellow, celery and white towels and sponges on the April “spring cleaning” cover is positioned on a light blue surface in front of a pale blue background for a fresh, clean look.


  • SmartMoney magazine: This just in, with Prussian blue logotype and cover blurbs (about retirement myths) on a background of powder blue.



Two Magazine Subscriptions That Help Readers Save Money

money_magazine_subscription_march2011.jpgFirst up, Money magazine‘s lives up to its name this March with a cover package on saving money, lots of money. Among the ways to save $50,000, as touted on the cover?

  • Reduce everyday expenses–and they’re not just talking about cutting out the daily coffee stop, though some of the ideas are equally pragmatic. Things like doing your own lawn work make the list; in fact, there are a lot of DIY ones
  • Making your home more energy efficient. Again, DIY plays a role–installing insulation, for example–and some of the items on the list are just steps on a long-term road to saving $50,000.
  • Eliminating a big-ticket item. Think new, luxury car; now think used, moderate car.

Some of Money’s suggestions are duh-obvious, especially to anyone who’s had to drastically reduce expenses and not simply to boost contributions to a retirement plan. Other ideas on the list seem a bit optimistic or even naive.

kiplingers_personal_finance_subscription_march2011.jpgMoving to a city with a lower cost of living? Not exactly easy, but at least the various writers add a note about selling in a difficult market; on the flip side, they also allude to the pleasure of finally moving to a vacation property full-time.

Readers with a Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine subscription will also learn about saving money this month, specifically how to save $50 a day. The magazine starts out with several quick hits of tips in the editor’s note and the rest of the pages are full of information on saving on medicines, travel, dining out and cable.

The “Car Talk” guys talk about saving on car expenses (displaying their characteristic shtick) and a party guru suggests ways to host a stylish gathering without breaking the bank.

The best part of this cover package–aside from “Car Talk” hosts Click and Clack–are the ideas that involve nothing but changing habits–things like turning off lights when you leave a room, for example.


O, the Oprah Magazine Subscription Helps Clear Your Stuff–and Your Mind

o_the_oprah_magazine_subscription_april2011.jpgI’ve pretty much narrowed down my favorite magazine subscriptions that accompany me when I travel; top choices are Real Simple magazine and O, the Oprah Magazine. This time around I packed O and read it during my (mercifully) short flight.

The March issue is a theme issue, about dealing with clutter: clearing it out, coming up with functional (and fantastic) storage solutions, and balancing an existence somewhere between extreme minimalism and frightening hoarding.

Stories on various aspects of the theme are scattered throughout the magazine and range from beautiful, well-organized spaces to a two-page spread on where to get rid of things through donations, sales, recycling, etc. This spread–and the theme of de-cluttering as spring cleaning–is similar to Consumer Report magazine’s March issue which also included a guide for what to do with a variety of unwanted items.

Meanwhile, there are other useful stories in the current O, too, including Dr. Oz writing about nipping spring allergies in the bud, so to speak. This month’s recipes are built on the idea of using up stocks of foodstuffs while also breaking out of a menu rut. Another story considers the negative energy tied up with possessions.

If you are fired up with the idea of cleaning out here at the start of spring, O’s March issue is the guide, the inspiration you need.