martha stewart invades my holiday weekend

I’ve always been a sucker for good packaging. Even though I am keenly aware of this weakness, I was still surprised at how Martha Stewart products crept their way into my life this Thanksgiving weekend. First, there was the bird. Our mission was simple: A 12lb fresh turkey — as the Real Simple recipe for cider-glazed turkey I’d decided on, called for. Once we got to the store, I saw a whole bunch of turkeys that were 15lbs, 18, lbs, 22 lbs — but only one that was 12.5 lbs. It was a Martha Stewart Turkey. What?!? Martha Stewart makes turkeys? Who knew. The label assured me it was the turkey of my dreams — free-range, no antibiotics, naturally fed, 2.49/lb. Done, into the basket it went.

After the grocery store I popped into Home Depot to buy some flower bulbs to plant over the long weekend. The unseasonably warm weather means there is still plenty of time to get them in the ground. Again, I found myself lured by some lovely blue and white packaging that bore the Martha Stewart name. Unlike the other bags of bulbs, hers were organized by single colors. She just knows what it is I’m looking for, doesn’t she? So despite feeling slightly duped, I succombed and purchased the MS bulbs.

Can I recommend them? We’ll just have to wait until next spring to see. But I will say, the turkey was a fine bird. — Angela M.

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From our partners

chickens! coming to a backyard near us soon

A couple of years ago, one of our most commented posts asked “Would you keep chickens?” Overwhelming you said, heck yeah, we’d love to raise chickens, and quite a few of you already did. Suddenly advice was flowing on breeds, coop building and egg quality. Fast forward a couple of years, and suddenly it seems that literally everyone around me is talking chickens! Many in our little New Jersey town have had their feathers ruffled recently (can’t resist the pun, sorry), after an ordinance was passed allowing backyard chickens starting this spring. People are worried about bad smells and that the foul will attract rats. We already have racoons, skunks, groundhogs and squirrels up the whazoo. What’s the harm of a few chickens? I love the idea of teaching our child where her food comes from, and it will certainly help us be more self-sufficient. Unfortunately, our own little patch of grass is much to small for a coop (what with the puppy and the playground we have planned — more on that later), but I sincerely hope one of our neighbors gives it a go. If you’re inspired, you must check out Tilly’s Nest, which just won a Blue Ribbon Blogger Award from Country Living mag. Its dedicated to the joys of raising chickens. These birds look downright huggable, and their owner, Melissa, offers amazing advice for the novice. — Angela M.

Tell us: Would you mind if your neighbors had chickens?

Photo by Laura Pandaru

From our partners

how to avoid a moldy pumpkin


If you’re like us, you spent a glorious fall weekend leaping around pumpkin patches and picking apples right off the tree. Divine! But before we start carving our jack-o-lantern masterpieces, we thought it’d be a good idea to remind ourselves what we learned last year. As you may recall, our 2010 porch pumpkins had a tough time. First, they got nibbled on by some squirrels. Then, they got moldy and basically caved in.

1. Don’t put your pumpkins out too soon. Rainy damp days can be deadly. Take them inside when it’s moist out!
2. After you carve it, soak it in cold water for a bit.
3. Smear some Vaseline on the carved, exposed edges.
4. If you’re worried about hungry critters taking a bite, mist it with a diluted cayenne pepper mix or try some Bitter Apple.

Got any other tips? Tell us here — and send us photos of your carved pumpkins! We’ll be sharing ours soon.

From our partners

steal this idea: garden plant organizer


Hey, what do you do with those little tag they put in nursery plants once you get them home? Perhaps you throw them away. Or maybe you have a system like mine: throw them in an old flowerpot in the shed until a year later when you’re trying to remember the name of what was planted where and how tall it might eventually be. Well, how about this idea from one of my neighbors: grab a simple binder, organize it by area of the yard, and just staple the tags in there along with any notes about plant care. Such a simple idea, but I admit, I was impressed! — Mary T.

From our partners

end of summer craft ideas: what to do with popsicle sticks?


As you know from previous posts, it’s been a summer filled with popsicles. And as the last long weekend approaches, I feel the need to suck every sweet drop from the end of the popsicle stick. Then, I’m gonna take a pile of those popsicle sticks and do something crafty with them and a bottle of glue. Of course, Martha Stewart has some serious suggestions. I love the little house, above, from their site, and suspect our daughter will, too. But there are some grown up ideas out there as well (after all, not just the little ones like popsicles). On Etsy, I spotted this adorable cutlery holder. (The lazy can buy one for $10.) And Reader’s Digest offers these ingenious uses for popsicle sticks. Be warned though. There are some heated debates on gardening forums about how using the leftover wooden planks for plant labels is a bad idea. Apparently, they get moldy? Yuck.

What about you? Got any fun projects to keep us busy over the long weekend? I sense rain in the forecast. — Angela M.

From our partners