Fresh ways to elevate the everyday, especially when that day is the Fourth of July.
DO-IT-YOURSELF STYLE: SERVE CHILLED
Consider these one-of-a-kind Fourth of July table linens a tribute to American ingenuity. The print may resemble batik from halfway around the world, but it’s made right here at home, in your back yard (or kitchen sink).
Use this foolproof technique for ice-dyeing — tie-dye’s subtler, less messy cousin — to give any solid cotton fabric a watercolor wash, then wrap up the theme with a simple red bow at each setting.
Ice-dyeing: A how-to
- Wire rack
- Plastic bin
- Ice cubes
- Powder dye
1. Prepare fabric: Place rack over bin (or directly in a sink). Soak fabric in water, then twist and wind it into a snake shape on rack to create a wave pattern.
2. Pile on ice: Gather fabric into center of rack and cover it with ice cubes.
3. Add dye: Sprinkle dye on top (here, the Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Kit was used: from $10.50 for three colors, michaels.com) and let ice melt. To set the pattern, wash and dry fabrics separately.
CELEBRATE: CAPTURE THE FLAG
Here’s a lip-smacking way to pledge allegiance to the Stars and Stripes: an all-American display of raspberry and lemon ices. (If you’re pressed for time, use store-bought sorbet cups.) Line a 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment, then arrange ices in alternating rows, leaving room for a stack of blue napkins. Let the fully assembled sheet chill in the freezer until you’re ready to treat your favorite patriots.
Sources: Dart Solo 44-2050 wax-treated white paper cups, 3 ounces, $25 for 100, amazon.com. Bayith Chambray cocktail napkins (similar to shown) $32 for four, carpenterhill.com.
GRAND OLD ICES
Combine 1 1/2 cups each fresh lemon juice and simple syrup in an 8-inch baking dish. Blend 4 1/2 cups fresh raspberries with 3/4 cup simple syrup and 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice until smooth; strain into a second 8-inch baking dish. Freeze both mixtures, raking with a fork every hour, until flaky and frozen, 4 hours. Blend each flavor with 1 1/2 cups water until smooth. Transfer to 3-ounce paper cups and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours.
Pack these road-trip conveniences in a handy go bag to travel smarter and happier (even in a rental).
(Top row, from left)
1. The WizGear air-vent magnetic car-mount holder keeps your phone’s GPS map in plain view ($17, amazon.com).
2. Tag car keys or a beloved stuffed animal with a high-tech Tile (from $25, thetileapp.com).
3. The mini MAGlite LED flashlight has all the illumination you need ($21, maglite.com).
(Second row, from left)
4. Use an Anker premium auxiliary cable to play the music on your phone through the car speakers ($15, amazon.com).
5. Yuni shower sheets let you freshen up even when the nearest bathtub is miles away ($15 for 12, yunibeauty.com).
(Bottom row, top to bottom)
6. Customize a no-frills canvas case, like the Augbunny 16-ounce pouch ($14 for 4, amazon.com).
7. An All Good SPF 50 sport sunscreen butter stick won’t spill ($16, allgoodproducts.com).
Instant upgrade: handles with flair
Much as replacing plain buttons with jazzier ones can transform an old coat, new drawer pulls can elevate a basic dresser. Even better, this do-it-yourself idea will work on any drawers, including ones with oddly spaced holes or vintage hardware.
Use a leather punch to put a hole in each end of the natural-leather strips, then fasten them onto drawers with flat-backed brass machine screws in front and acorn nuts in back.
Sources: Tandy Leather natural cowhide leather strip, 2 inches by 50 inches, $17, amazon.com. Art-Minds leather punch, $10, michaels.com.
MULTITASKER: ALL IN A ROW
Summer bummer, solved! To transport ripe-to-perfection tomatoes and stone fruits home from the farmers market free of bruises and busted skin, stock up on these birch wine carriers. They accommodate the season’s most precious cargo efficiently, ecologically and pretty darn elegantly, too.
Source: The Container Store Birch Veneer wine-bottle cylinders, $17 each, containerstore.com.
SIP & REPEAT: LIGHTEN UP
Two guest-star ingredients turn a typical happy-hour margarita into a sunny brunch beverage: Orange marmalade adds a bitter-sweet tang, and El Guitarron agave wine ($15, cordelwine.com) comes from the same plant as tequila but has about half the alcohol, so you can toast over French toast without needing a siesta.
Moisten the edge of a glass with fresh lime juice, then dip it in kosher salt. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add 2 ounces El Guitarron agave wine, 1/2 ounce Cointreau, 1 ounce lime juice, 2 teaspoons orange marmalade and 1 teaspoon super-fine sugar; shake 30 seconds. Fill glass with ice, strain drink over top and garnish with orange and lime wedges.
RECIPE REMIX: THE S’MORE, THE MERRIER
With all due respect to the holy trinity of graham cracker, milk chocolate and marshmallow, you can take this old-school treat to delicious new heights.
These three variations on the combo offer something for everyone standing around the fire pit (since, apparently, there are people who don’t love chocolate). Trick out a tray so roasters can find ingredients easily and focus on more crucial matters, like debating the subtle nuances between “charred” and “burned.”
(Top to bottom)
Gingersnap and lemon curd
Chocolate wafer and Andes mint
Graham cracker and Reese’s peanut butter cup
Bonfire box: To streamline flameside fixings, load a tray with clear categories: your crunchies (chocolate wafers, graham crackers and gingersnaps); your gooeys (Andes mints — you’ll need two per s’more — Reese’s peanut butter cups and lemon curd); and your chewies (the marshmallows!). Don’t forget napkins and skewers or sticks whittled to a point.
Sources: Pie dish (for marshmallows), in Pillarbox Red, $59 for four, falconenamelware.com. Nabisco Famous chocolate wafers, $5 for 9 ounces, walmart.com. Lars’ Own Swedish gingersnaps, $13.50 for 10.6 ounces, amazon.com. Thursday Cottage lemon curd, $10 for 11 ounces, amazon.com. Three Tarts vanilla bean marshmallows, $9.50 for 10, amazon.com.
Address questions to Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 11 W. 42nd St., New York, NY 10036. Or go to www.marthastewart.com/contact-us-form. Please include your name, address and daytime phone number.
Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate