After Thanksgiving, this is my favorite holiday. I can still almost taste the smell of sparklers, and how terrified-excited I was as a kid, standing in the midst of all that bright light and smoke. Fourth of July equals full-blown summer to me, swimming and lighting storms. Happily, that's where I'll be this weekend. xo
Entries in july 4th (4)
What is it about the eve of a roadtrip that kicks me into a burst of idea and action? We are hitting the road today, to drive down winding roads and spend the night up north. Wherever we go, we bring our trusty pistachio-colored cooler and picnic basket, for spontaneous picnics whenever we arrive at a scenic vista. I decided to make a summery trifle, because I suspect it might travel well. Then last night as I was making up the dead simple dessert, an idea struck, very much inspired by Not Martha and Angry Chicken's genius and heart-crushingly cute experiments to bake pies and cakes in tiny jars. What about individual trifles, to pluck out of the cooler when the sweet craving strikes?
I used this recipe, but lessened the sugar to a scant ¼ cup in the syrup and ¼ cup instead of 1/3 cup in the cream. I also added lemon zest to the cream mixture. Then assemble as instructed, make up labels (optional, of course, but I particularly love this part. I printed gingham on adhesive mailing labels) and pack in the cooler. With plenty of spoons.
It’s funny how some projects are born. Like this one: I recently created fabric lanterns out of old tomato cages for an upcoming Washington Post project. I first tried making them with tissue paper paper-mache, but that bombed. So I sewed the fabric into the cages, which made them lovely and taut (I’ll share that version when it publishes next week). But I still wanted to try another method that would be a faster, more lazy way to transform the humble tomato cage into a July Fourth-worthy lantern.
That’s when I tried homemade fabric stiffener. I dunked the whole piece of fabric into a bowl of diluted glue, squeezed out the excess, and draped it over the frame. At first, I didn’t think I liked the effect because it was so different to the drum-tight version. But after it dried, I became enamored of its relaxed, crumpled vibe. And the lighting-fast way the project comes together and then dries to a hardened shell.
I used an old ripped sheet for the base fabric and appliquéd red and blue stars onto the fabric, but you can use any material you like, and skip the appliqué step if you’d prefer
Tomato cage (I used the 33 inch size)
Strong wire cutters or hacksaw
1 yard fabric
Battery operated votive candle
1. Wearing safety glasses (and being careful!) trim upright prongs from the tomato cage just above the smallest circle.
2. Working with the wider end of the cage on a table, drape fabric over the top of the cage, with at least ½” of fabric extending up and over the top of the cage. Secure fabric in place with clothespins.
3. Now pull fabric to the bottom and secure, again with clothespins. Continue around the entire bottom of the cage.
4. You can trace along the top and bottom openings with fabric pen, and then cut out the fabric. Or you can cut while the fabric is on the frame – you don’t need to be very exact. Just leave about ½”-1” excess fabric around the top and bottom of the cage, and where the fabric will overlap. Remove clothespins. If you are adding appliqué, do this now so you can see where to add the decorative elements.
5. Here’s where you get to get a little messy. In a bowl, mix 2 parts glue to 1 part water and stir. Dunk the fabric in the glue mixture until it’s thoroughly saturated, then squeeze out the excess glue and drape the fabric over the cage, turning the top and bottom edge over the frame to seal, and let dry.
6. As it dries, check to make sure the top, bottom and side seams are drying closed. If necessary, re-pinch the seam into place as it dries and flip when the lantern is partially dry to better seal the bottom fabric.
Because it’s coming up on July Fourth (which happens to be one of favorite holidays) I’m posting not one but two craft projects today. Yeehaw! First up is a project from Maya at Maya*Made. Maya and I realized we are living sort of flipped lives: she grew up in San Francisco, and now lives out in the country on the East Coast; while I grew up in the country on the East Coast and now live in San Francisco. You have probably seen Maya’s beautiful burlap buckets and a range of hand-printed wares. Over on her blog, she is savoring summer in simple ways that completely inspire. Here she is:
The picnic/potluck season is now in full swing. Bringing a special "dish to pass" is always a favorite summer tradition. Before you cover up that bowl of potato salad with a sheet of foil or plastic wrap, consider whipping up a re-usable bowl cover strap! You'll transport your dish in eco-style and highlight pretty linens at the same time. Make your own with any fabric scraps on hand, or here's a super fast method I'm excited to share with you, using a thrifted men's shirt. The one featured here uses a red checkered shirt that has picnic written all over it.
Scrap of fabric or large button down shirt
Seam ripper (for button removal)
Strip of elastic
Thread and needle
1. Create a simple fabric tube. The strip that holds the buttons on the shirt is a perfect channel for housing elastic. Slice it off neatly from the body of the shirt. Strip off buttons and cut off any loose threads.
2. Insert a little length of elastic.
3. Connect the two ends of elastic with a few stitches. Don't bother to sew the fabric tube together, as this gives plenty of room for stretching over larger sized bowls.
Now, isn't that ingenious? Thanks, Maya!