Bonus column: Martha Stewart

The Detroit News

© 2017 Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc

Fresh ideas to elevate the everyday:


The subtle ombre effect brings a touch of drama to this wall.


One way to dress up a room is to hang art. Another? Transform a plain wall into a gorgeous installation. This subtle ombre technique is actually quite simple (a slightly imperfect flow looks more interesting and organic). Start at the top with the deepest of three graduated shades, finish with the lightest and blend for a stunning result.

The only tricky part of this project is choosing one color — and its two neighboring shades — that you love. (The wall shown here features Behr paint in Stolen Kiss, Cherubic and Pink Quartz; When you’re ready to paint, visit for a detailed how-to.


If Mom’s still got your grade-school drawings tucked away somewhere, give her something you made with your own two hands this Mother’s Day. Sculpt bold beads or a posh pendant out of oven-hardening molding clay, then add stylish details, and you’ll have a grown-up accessory that she’ll display with pride.

 The variety of beads you make is only limited by your imagination.

Making these crescent and tube pendants is even easier than baking cookies. Once you’ve picked out clay colors, beads and cording, just gather a craft knife, a glass or two to help you trace the half-moon shape, and a small metal rod to wrap clay around to make tube beads. (Oh, and your oven, to heat them till they’re done.)


Fimo soft clay, $3 for 2 ounces, Leather cord, $9 for 5 yards; and brass beads, $5.75 for 10,


Oven-hardening clay (Fimo soft clay, $3 for 2 ounces,

Craft knife

Drinking glass

Drinking straw

Small metal rod

Leather cord, $9 for 5 yards

Assorted brass beads, $5.75 for 10,


1. Knead two colors of clay together for a marbleized effect, if desired. Roll out clay into a disc about 1/4-inch thick.

2. Using a craft knife, cut clay into a half-moon shape. An overturned drinking glass or small bowl can help guide the shape of the curves. Add holes at either end with a drinking straw.

3. Bake clay in oven according to package. Let cool completely.

4. Thread a leather cord through a brass tube bead, through one hole in the clay, then tuck the tail of the leather cord back through the brass tube bead to secure. Repeat on the other side.


1. Roll out clay into a tube about 1/4-inch thick.

2. Wrap clay around a small metal rod to shape it, then remove rod. Shape into a slight curve.

3. Bake clay in oven according to package. Let cool completely.

4. Thread tube pendant with cord. Finish with brass rods or more beads.


Two household surfaces always seem to attract disorder: desktops and laundry-room floors. Keep them pristine by tailoring ready-made canvas containers to help you neatly stash the stuff. A strategically hung paintbrush roll wrangles desk supplies, and paint designates hampers for lights and darks, or color-codes them to sort everyone’s dirties.

To hang the paintbrush holder, cup hooks can be screwed in by hand — a couple of twists and you're done.


Use a raw potato cut into rounds and halves to stamp plain hampers with a pretty (and practical) pattern. Or, to organize by family member or destination, paint the bottoms of oversize totes.

Navy marks the spot for dark clothes on the hamper in the middle.


Umbra Natural Round Crunch Can with handles, $20; and Natural Rectangular Crunch Basket with handles, $20, Martha Stewart Crafts multisurface satin acrylic craft paint, in Poodle Skirt, Blue Velvet and Wild Salmon, $2.50 for 2 ounces,


Try sweetened condensed coconut milk, which has virtually the same consistency as the traditional dairy stuff. It’s also the key to a tasty new summer cooler: vegan coconut Thai iced tea. Bring 5 cups water, 6 star-anise pods, 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; add 1 1/2 teaspoons loose Ceylon tea leaves. Steep 10 minutes; strain and let cool completely. For each serving, pour over ice; stir in sweetened condensed coconut milk to taste. Serves 8.

Take your pick! Four guacamole dishes: Minty Margarita, Taco Truck-Style, Modern Mex and Martha's Classic.


Everyone needs a back-pocket guacamole recipe. The go-to version starts with 3 ripe but firm avocados, peeled, pitted and lightly mashed. Add 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1/4 cup each chopped white onion and jalapeno, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Or, try a twist, like one of these variations.

MINTY MARGARITA: Omit the white onion and add 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice; swap in 1/4 cup mint for the cilantro.

TACO TRUCK–STYLE: Swap in 2 cups chopped tomatillos for 1 of the avocados; omit the lime juice. Puree in a food processor with 1/2 cup water until smooth.

MODERN MEX: Swap in red onion for the white onion. Top with 1/4 cup toasted pepitas and 3 tablespoons crumbled cotija or feta cheese.

MARTHA’S CLASSIC: Fold in 1 cup halved or quartered cherry tomatoes and 2 chopped hard-cooked eggs. Serve with plantain chips.

Email your questions to, or send them to Ask Martha, c/o Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 805 Third Avenue, 25th floor, New York, NY 10022. Please include your full name, address and daytime phone number.