My in-box is always full of such spectacular questions from readers. I wanted to answer a few today.
Wanda asks: I read in the magazine that you serve only clear liquids to your guests. Does this really mean no tea or coffee? What do you serve other than clear cocktails and mineral water when the guests want a warm drink?
Well, I apply the clear-liquids rule only for parties or large get-togethers, when the chance of a spill on my carpet or upholstery becomes greater. Other than that, I always want my guests to feel welcome and at home, so I will serve them whatever they would like. I have a great espresso machine from Breville and love to make cappuccinos.
But for large parties I serve clear beverages. Here are a few great recipes I suggest you try next time you have a get-together: Martini, Pisco Punch, Salty Dog, White Wine Spritzer, Olive-Rosemary Martini, Lychee Martinis, Thyme Lemonade, Lavender Champagne, Shiso Martinis, and Cucumber-Ginger Fizzes.
1 A classic martini gets a festive makeover when garnished with oil-cured olives on a skewer of fragrant rosemary.
2 The less vermouth in it, the drier the martini.
3 1 peeled, cored pineapple, 1 bottle of pisco, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, half a cup fresh lime juice and ice is all you need to make Pisco Punch.
4 Salt, juice of a yellow grapefruit, ice, vodka and simple syrup are all you need to make a Salty Dog.
5 For even more Asian-style flavor, substitute sake for the gin in this recipe for Lychee Martinis.
6 The flavor of thyme in this lemonade lends an unexpected grown-up flair to a summer favorite.
7 Adding lavender is a simple way to make Champagne a bit more elegant and fresh.
8 This classic cocktail gets brightened up with the addition of fresh lime juice and mintlike shiso to create Shiso Martinis.
9 To make these cocktails, cucumber-infused vodka is garnished with cucumber ribbon and mixed with ginger simple syrup.
10 Citrus-flavored vodka celebrates winter, when citrus fruits are at their peak. The recipe is simple and calls for 2 candied clementines, 6 ounces of citrus-flavored vodka and 2 ounces of triple sec.
11 Take a traditional drink of eggnog and turn it into something a bit different -- like an Eggnog Martini.
12 You can watch a video on how to make this tasty Coquito on marthastewart.com.
13 The recipe for a Winter Solstice cocktail on the Martha Stewart website is courtesy of Charles Corpion from The Four Seasons. This clear and tasty cocktail is perfect for serving guests at large parties
14 White-cranberry juice, vodka, and Cointreau is all you need to whip up a White Cosmopolitan.
15 Take advantage of using up all of those apples in your kitchen this fall and create a mouthwatering Green Apple Martini.
16 Try this decadently creamy white Russian, which is sure to please anyone with a sweet tooth.
Lei asks: I was wondering if you could help me out with an item you used in your kitchen. My kitchen is small (like yours), so I have to use small appliances to fit them in and give up on others, like a microwave. I just wanted to know what is the model of the fan you used that shows on picture number 2. Unfortunately, I don’t have the magazine to check all the information.
When I renovated my kitchen I chose to keep the appliances that came with the apartment. The cooktop, vent, hood, and oven are all from Gaggenau. They make some great space-saving ventilation appliances. Be sure to check out the compact AH900 24/36-inch visor hood. Maybe that could work for your kitchen.
1 In the November 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living I had a feature focusing on organizing my kitchen. You can see my espresso machine at the top. Small accessories and organization are the keys to having a small kitchen.
2 Having a small tiered bookshelf in a cabinet can help organize your items and provide you with more space to use.
3 The Container Store has some great items to help put order in your kitchen. These are a few items I have in my kitchen.
4 This is an amazing rack that will help you expand your cabinet storeage! From pots and pans to bowls and coffee mugs, you can use these risers to help fit more in your small kitchen cabinet.
5 You can see my pots and pans on the rack in the cabinet. It's much easier for me to access what I need.
6 Just about everyone has a flat drawer. Use it well, and place important items in easy-to-reach places.
7 In this photo you can see the same rack that was used to organize my pots and pans in a previous photo. Now they are used to help store glasses.
8 Here is a great photo from the Gaggenau website showing the flat kitchen hood AH 900. This is great for a kitchen that does not have a lot of space.
9 From the Gaggenau website, here is the Vario Gas Cooktop VG 232. I love the design of this and how it does not seem to take up too much space.
10 Instead of the AH900, here is the AH250 -- Gaggenau's Flat Kitchen Hood that is only 60 cm wide.
11 Really limited on space? Check out this Vario refrigerator that is only 61 cm wide! The shelves are adjustable and it has amazing cooling features for delicate foods!
12 This Vario fridge-freezer combination is great for small-kitchen apartments.
Mena asks: My living room has three large separate windows on the back wall. The space between the windows is only about 6 inches. We have had white Roman shades in each window for several years, but it looks so plain. There is no trim around the windows, since there really isn’t space between for two trim boards. Do you have any ideas for window treatments? Our house is an 8-year-old-cottage-style home.
My advice is to treat the three windows as one, instead of as separate windows. To do this, mount a curtain or drapery rod above them, and hang panels that can be drawn over them for privacy when needed. There are some amazing hardware and curtain options at Home Depot and Restoration Hardware. When it comes to making curtains for your windows, here are some fabulous DIY ideas.
1 A border of pale-green appliqués dresses up sheer linen curtains without blocking the sunshine.
2 Two handmade floral stencils, arranged agreeably askew, decorate the inner edges of curtains, framing the window.
3 This charming white-on-gray pattern shows up best on a vinyl blackout shade.
4 Turn organza ribbon into soft stripes on cotton-voile sheers.
5 Deep-bottom pleats and a patterned fabric give this shade an elegance suited to traditional rooms. It's designed to remain partially raised, accentuating its lovely form.
6 Create tone-on-tone sophistication by trimming silk-organza sheers with linen in a slightly deeper shade. Green linen panels on silk-organza sheers give just the right touch of color to a living room dressed in neutral hues.
7 This simple and elegant shade is a sleek alternative to a traditional curtain treatment.
Pam asks: Is there a proper way to store brooms when not in use?
Yes, there is. A broom should always be hung for storage or stored upside down to maintain the bristles’ shape. If your bristles do come splayed, wrap a rubber band around the bottom of them and leave it for a day or two. Remove the rubber band and the bristles will be back in shape. (Here is a post on which brooms work for which projects.)