Monday, January 6, 2014

New York (pre-Christmas)

One unseasonably warm Saturday in December, before the chaos of Christmas completely overwhelmed us, we went into the city. Rather than heading to midtown with its infamous tree, window displays, and crowds (this was an effort to avoid the holiday rush, after all) we opted instead to go downtown. We had a late brunch of blueberry sourdough pancakes, smoked salmon benedict, and home fries at Bubby's before spending a leisurely afternoon wandering around Tribeca, where the Christmas spirit was very much alive, just more subdued.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Martha Stewart Home Depot Holiday Decorating Workshop

I honestly thought I posted this weeks ago-- luckily I realized my oversight mid-December, not mid-July, so it's still relevant. 

A few weekends ago I was invited to attend a Holiday Decorating workshop led by Martha Stewart at The Home Depot Super Store in Vauxhall, NJ. A large (heated!) tent was set up in the parking lot for the occasion, perfect for the chilly November day. Everyone in attendance was entered in a raffle to win prizes from The Home Depot or Home Decorators Collection (which is located next door) and gifted a one-year subscription to Martha Stewart Living magazine, as well as a coupon for Home Decorators Collection. They also kindly provided bottled water and hot Dunkin Donuts coffee, perfect for a cold morning.

The Martha Stewart/Home Depot team had setup a colorful, festive stage using decor from the Martha Stewart Holiday collections and Martha Stewart Living Craft Space Tables from Home Decorators Collection (I happen to have one of the tables, they are fantastic for crafting).


The tent filled up quickly and the crowd eagerly awaited the arrival of Martha. As she and her entourage prepared to enter, I was excited to catch a peek of her French Bulldogs, Francesca and Sharkey outside...


...and thrilled when Martha herself came in walking her Chow, Ghenghis Khan.



Martha and her team paused near the entrance to greet Martha's daughter and grandchildren, so Ghenghis Khan and Francesca took the opportunity to say "hello" to those of us sitting nearby. I was even able to pet Ghenghis Khan (my husband isn't wrong when he jokes that this was the highlight of my day).


You would think that a woman who features her own dog on her blog so often would be better at photographing dogs in motion, but, alas, it's blur city. I included the photo below because it was the only shot I got of Sharkey.


Martha took the stage with Kevin Sharkey, SVP Executive Editorial Director, Decorating, and Executive Creative Director, Merchandising (what a title). They started by going through a slide show of holiday decorating ideas from past and current issues of Martha Stewart Living, interspersing personal anecdotes of holidays past between tips and explanations.

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After the presentation Martha and Kevin made their way to the back of the stage to begin the holiday craft workshop. They started by creating an ornament garland, a project simple in execution, yet the finished result makes a big impact. Using a thick wire, simply string your ornaments through the hook holes to create a large garland. Kevin suggested hot gluing the tops onto the ornaments to ensure they don't pop off, but Martha didn't think that step was necessary.

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Next they showed the crowd how to create an illuminated star using wooden dowels zip tied together to form the star, then outlined in white LED lights.

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Finally, they demonstrated a few ways to display traditional decorations in new and unexpected ways, such as using a store bought artificial wreath as a holiday centerpiece, paired with a candle or ornaments in a glass hurricane.

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My personal favorite was the idea to pile ornaments in a covered cake stand by filling the top with ornaments and placing the base over the opening while it's still upside down, then flipping the whole thing over to display on a table.

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Following the demonstration Martha took questions from the audience. She had tips for everything from holiday decorating and gift ideas, to general home keeping and design questions.

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The time flew by and it was a great way to spend a morning. If any of these events pop up at a store near you, I'd definitely recommend going. Thank you to Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia for inviting me to this event.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Review: PoochPax

Last month Casey and I were given the opportunity to review a new monthly subscription service for dogs: PoochPax. PoochPax delivers treats and toys right to your door on a monthly basis-- 1, 3 or 6 month subscriptions are available, starting at just $19 a month. This socially-conscious company donates a portion of each subscription to Guide Dogs for the Blind, a national non-profit organization that trains and provides guide dogs to visually impaired persons across the US. When you sign up you will choose the best PoochPax for your dog based on their weight, and each month you will receive 4-6 size appropriate treats and toys.

I took 'day of' photos, unfortunately due to my subpar photography skills they were all blurry, so you get iPhone photos taken after the fact. The only item missing from these photos is the rawhide chew, which Casey found to be irresistible. 

Casey is no stranger to the pet subscription box, so he was thrilled when his PoochPax arrived in a box illustrated with their adorable mascot.


Our box included three toys (a rubber tug toy, a squeaky plush frog with rope arms and legs, and a Flash & Glow ball) and three treats: the aforementioned chew, pumpkin flavored Smoothers Yogurt Drops by Exclusively Dog, and Lotsa Chicken flavored Himalayan Dog Chew Yaky Yam treats).


Once the chew had been chewed, the next order of business was to check out the toys. The frog was a big hit, as I knew it would be, seeing as Casey's a sucker for a squeaky toy.


He's not normally big on tug toys, but he surprised me by playing a quick game of tug-of-war with the Spunkeez toy.


Our experience with PoochPax was very positive. I found their customer service to be impeccable, and the treats and toys in our box were of good quality, and Casey approved. PoochPax has generously offered to gift one free month of PoochPax to one A Day in A Joyful Life reader! Enter below via Rafflecopter, the winner will be announced next week (Thursday, November 12th).

If you want to sign up for your own PoochPax, or to give a subscription as a gift, use code 'JOYFULL' to receive $5 off a six-month subscription. They also have a monthly drawing for people who share a pet photo on one of their social media feeds-- the winner receives an original art piece of their pet on an 11x14" canvas. Happy shopping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway