Good things make spring sunshine brighter

  • By Martha Stewart / Martha Stewart Living
  • Wednesday, April 12, 2006 9:00pm
  • Life

After a long winter, spring has finally arrived. Here are some good things to help you make the most of the season – tips for getting organized, personalizing your holiday celebrations, planting your garden and giving your home a fresh look for spring.

You can enjoy the feel of spring when you decorate with a batch of magnet-fitted flowers. Fabric roses, ranunculus and mums can blossom just about anywhere: Embellish curtains, tablecloths and even living-room lampshades with an arrangement.

Look in crafts stores for a variety of complementary-hued blooms, and adhere mini magnets (also from crafts stores) to the backs of the flowers with a hot glue gun, just above their raised centers. Then secure them to any soft surface by placing a second magnet on its reverse side.

Home-office paper shredders provide a safe way to dispose of personal documents, but they also have a more whimsical function: transforming scraps of paper into attractive packing grass for Easter baskets or gift boxes.

Hook a strip-cut shredder over a plastic storage bin, shred used wrapping paper and other papers in pretty colors, and use the results to spruce up packages for family and friends. You can also just shred old newspapers to pad fragile items before shipping.

Fancy sugar

Spring flowers formed from sugar are a sweet touch for coffee and tea service. To make some, add 2 teaspoons of water to 1 cup of sugar, and knead with your hands until the mixture is the consistency of wet sand.

Pack moistened sugar into flower-shaped plastic mold trays (available at kitchen supply stores – shapes should be 1 to 1 1/2 inches across), and scrape off excess with a small spatula. Immediately turn out molded shapes onto a parchment-lined tray, and let harden overnight. Store sugar in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to a month.

Put photo protectors to work in the kitchen: Use them to keep recipe cards organized and splatter-free. You can find protectors in a variety of sizes at office-supply stores. Purchase ones that will fit recipe cards you’ve collected from magazines or written out by hand. Keep the filled pages in a three-ring binder in a handy spot in your kitchen.

This month, you’ll want to have an umbrella handy whenever you head out the door. Mounting broom hooks inside a closet door is less cumbersome than using an overcrowded umbrella stand, and it won’t clutter up your entryway. Hang the hooks high enough so the umbrellas won’t drag on the floor, and far enough apart so handles don’t knock together.

For your next Passover seder, make a personalized matzo cover and a bag for the afikomen (the symbolic broken piece of matzo that remains hidden during the meal) from handkerchiefs bearing a family monogram.

To create a matzo cover with three pockets, stack four 11-inch square handkerchiefs and connect them on three sides using fabric glue, then stitch to secure. For a bag to hold the afikomen, fold a handkerchief in half and sew the short sides together. Finish by sewing a ribbon on each side of the opening to tie the bag closed.

Hose stand

Make sure each plant in your budding garden gets its fair share of water by elevating a sprinkler to a higher level using a simple bamboo pole. You’ll need an oscillating spigot designed for in-ground use, a bamboo pole and two plastic fastener strips.

Cut the pole to the size you need: 2 to 3 feet for low vegetables, 4 to 6 feet for tall flowers. Push the bamboo about 8 inches into the soil to secure it. Then place the metal spigot plate on top of the pole so the spike hangs down its side. Fasten the spike to the pole with the plastic strips. Trim the ends of plastic strips before attaching your hose.

This trick will save you some trouble when you’re planting a sapling in your yard: Stand a rake beside the root ball, and grasp the handle 1 to 2 inches below the root flare (where the trunk meets the root ball). Then check if the hole is deep enough by laying a spade across the opening and lowering the rake to the bottom. If your hand meets the spade, you’re ready to plant.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.

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