Like the cloudless days that have just arrived, blue instantly says spring. And when it comes to ways to introduce the color into your home, the options -- like the sky -- are wide open. Start by bringing the hue to your bathroom with these plush bath towels (Essentials in Brook and Steel Blue, and Low Twist in Wave, by Martha Stewart Collection, from macys.com).
There's a brush for every corner of your house. These are our go-to tools of the homekeeping trade. From left:
With a 54-inch reach, the Baseboard Buddy (baseboardbuddy.com) ensures a floor-to-ceiling clean. The window-screen brush (improvementscatalog.com) pulls dust and cobwebs out of the mesh. The Track brush (improvementscatalog.com) glides along the tricky-toreach door and window tracks. Slim and flexible, the microfiber Double duster (oxo.com) can get into tight spots (between electronics, for example). With large, pliant feathers, the ostrich brush (caldrea.com) is essential for day-to-day cleaning. Great for overhead lighting fixtures, a lambswool duster (totalvac.com) has soft, dense fibers that cling to dust (rather than just move it around).
"With these fabric squares, it could not be easier to make cute sachets," crafts editor Blake Ramsey says of the hand-printed Charm Pack 5-inch fabric squares (ploverorganic.com). To start, sew two squares together (because the edges come pinked, there's no need to trim), leaving a 1 1/2-inch opening on one side and a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Fill with mothrepelling lavender buds (thesage.com), and finish sewing the last side. Place in a drawer to keep linens fresh or under a pillow for sweet dreams.
One of the first crops of spring, French breakfast radishes have red shoulders, white tips, and varying degrees of spiciness.
Eat them on their own, or dip in unsalted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt. Toss chilled cooked soba noodles with thinly sliced cucumbers, very thinly sliced radishes, and halved blanched sugar snap peas. Dress with vegetable oil, soy sauce, and fresh lemon juice. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.
Toss thinly sliced radishes with extravirgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, coarse salt, and freshly ground pepper. Repeat with sliced avocado, and mash onto whole-grain bread. Pile on radish mixture, and sprinkle with finely grated lemon zest. Drizzle with olive oil.
Toss radishes with extra-virgin olive oil. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast on a baking sheet at 450, stirring once, until slightly tender and charred, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice.
Grow a link to the past by planting a descendant of a historic tree in your backyard. While Washington's cherry tree may be little more than a myth, American Forests (historictrees.org) offers the chance to perpetuate his legend with a tulip poplar grown from the seed of a tree the first president planted with his own hands.
Arbor Day is April 30. Here are come books to get you in the spirit.
The Native Trees of Canada (Drawn & Quarterly, 2010), by artist Leanne Shapton, beautifully conveys the spirit and gestures of the country's considerable arboreal residents. Keepers of the Trees (Skyhorse, 2010), by Ann Linnea, tells the stories of people who have dedicated their lives to planting, studying, and conserving trees. Combining gorgeous photography with friendly, authoritative writing, Hugh Johnson's The World of Trees (University of California Press, 2010) is a coffee-table book that will actually be read.
As alternatives to salad, try these fresh and crunchy combos.
Top: Golden Beets: Whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon orange zest, 1 tablespoon orange juice, 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Toss with 1 1/2 pounds golden beets, peeled and cut into matchsticks, 3 sliced scallions, and 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro. Serves 6.
Lower Left: Cabbage and Green Apples: Whisk together 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1 seeded and finely chopped fresh red chile, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon toasted black mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds. Stir in 3 cups shredded cabbage and 2 Granny Smith apples, cut into matchsticks. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Serves 6.
Lower Right: Asparagus and Carrots: Grate 3 carrots and 1 1/2 pounds asparagus. Toss with 1/3 cup fresh mint, 1/3 cup sliced red onion, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt. Serves 6.
Bring 2/3 cup honey, 1/2 cup water, and 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, to a simmer in a saucepan. Cook, stirring, until honey dissolves. Let cool completely. Strain through a fine sieve (there will be some seeds). Stir in 1/4 cup fresh lime juice. Divide among 4 ice-filled glasses. Top with 4 cups chilled seltzer. Makes 4.
Bring 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Let cool completely. Steep 4 green tea bags in 2 cups boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove bags. Let cool completely. Divide tea, 1/2 cup chilled unsweetened cranberry juice, and the simple syrup among 4 ice-filled glasses. Top with 3 cups chilled seltzer. Makes 4.
Originally designed as scrapbook stickers, these pretty petals can be put to new use as egg decorations for Easter. Less complicated (and messy) than a multistep dyeing technique, the stickers easily attach to the curved surface of an egg, giving it a three-dimensional quality. Stickers, in (from left) Daisy, Pink Cosmos, Lily of the Valley, and Lily, by Martha Stewart Crafts, from michaels.com
"This piece was designed with the crafter in mind -- no details were missed," decorating editor Rebecca Robertson says. Because crafts and organizing are part of our DNA at Martha Stewart Living, we set high standards when creating the Craft Space Storage Cabinet and Hutch (in Rhododendron Leaf by Martha Stewart Living, from homedecorators.com). The hutch has a chalkboard and a pinup board inside its doors; the cabinet features trays, dividers, and door shelves that you can fill with glitter tubes and paint bottles to your heart's content.
A precooked ham makes Easter dinner a cinch. But "there are so many to choose from, it can be hard to pick," food editor Christine Albano says. These four made her cut for their balanced taste -- none is overly salty -- and the companies' humane pig-raising practices.
A salt-and-maple-sugar brine locks in this applewood-smoked ham's flavor (nimanranch.com).
Functional, portable, and ever tidy, baskets are the best kind of organizing tools -- the ones that you can leave out in the open. Here, a pleasing array of light and airy containers that will inspire order this spring.
Top row (l to r): Woven out of palm leaves, the La Vie Orange market tote (jeannebeatrice.com) has room for all the vegetables from the farmers' market and can stand in as a beach carryall. The versatile Classic Nantucket Round Baskets (nathantaylorbaskets.com) are sanded and lacquered to ensure strength and resistance to damage. Outfitted with moss, plants can thrive in the ornate Italian wire basket (campodefiori.com). Middle row (l to r): This bamboo steamer basket (kioskkiosk.com) could be used for its intended purpose -- steaming food -- or for holding cloth napkins. Made of easy-to-clean ceramic in an understated design, the Whiteware bread basket (Martha Stewart Collection, from macys.com) serves as a roomy fruit bowl. Fashioned in the style of 1950s milk-bottle baskets, this one (by Basil, from adelineadeline.com) attaches to the side of your bike's rear rack. We love the pastel green color. The wire gathering basket (hausinterior.com) is ideal as an entryway catchall for mail. Bottom row (l to r): Made of sturdy oxidized steel, the Farmers' Market Epergne basket (sundancecatalog.com) is useful for holding kitchen-pantry staples as well as crafts or office supplies. The Linear washed-wood baskets (westelm.com) can function as hampers or hold towels in the bathroom or on the pool deck.
Popular in the 19th century, opaque-glass covered animal dishes were more than pure whimsy; they were designed to keep eggs and other food warm. You can still find these collectibles for your nest at antiques shops all over the country. Mosser Glass of Cambridge, Ohio, has covered hens on nests (740-439-1827) in various colors.
Break out of the candy-chick mold by filling Easter baskets with these adorable confections. Clockwise from top left: Cute and cartoonish, these chocolate bees (johnandkiras.com) have a salted-carameland- honey filling that will delight the palates of children and adults alike. These artisanal chocolate butterflies (nunuchocolates.com) ooze caramel. The white-chocolate bunnies contain chocolate-and-hazelnut ganache; the mouse has a cinnamon filling (burdickchocolate.com). These barley pops (vermontcountrystore.com) are made using 1930s candy molds. Crack into these robin's eggs (woodhousechocolate.com) for a milk-chocolate-and-brown-butter ganache.
Steiff, the company that invented the teddy bear, has introduced the limited-edition Gabriela rabbit (steiffusa.com). Based on patterns of stuffed rabbits from the 1950s, this mohair bunny continues Steiff's long tradition of creating intricately detailed soft toys. If it inspires you to start a collection, you're in luck. The company's vintage pieces, such as this brood of chicks from the 1950s, can be found at thrift shops and on eBay. "Steiff's creatures are well made and durable," collecting editor Fritz Karch says. "And they have a personality."
Spring into pie season with the new Martha Stewart's Pies & Tarts (Clarkson Potter/ Publishers; shop.marthastewart.com), a collection of recipes developed over 20 years. Among the 150 recipes are all the classics (cherry, peach, apple), as well as new twists (mile-high lemon meringue, anyone?).
Heed the season's call to renew by changing your frontdoor hardware. With these pieces, a mini upgrade will create a warm welcome.
This high-quality custom vinyl house number and name decal (allie000.etsy.com) is an easy way to update your front door or any smooth surface.
Top to Bottom: The Hexagon door knocker (peguerin.com) adds a Georgian-style touch to your door and looks especially elegant in a polished-brass finish. Hand-cast in solid brass, this Classic Ring door knocker (brassgallery.com) echoes the decorative rings that hung on medieval church doors.The white bronze 8-inch square door knocker (rockymountainhardware.com) combines function with a sleek, impress-the-neighbors style.