Monthly Archives: January 2013

A Little Decorating Advice

A small change can make a big improvement when it comes to décor. And feeling better about your home is likely to make you feel better about inviting people to visit it.

In the parlance of Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project (Harper Collins, 2009), I am an “underbuyer,” someone who delays making purchases or buys as little as possible. But when my husband suggested the need to replace the towels in our country bathroom, even I had to admit it was time. After over 20 years of regular use (albeit mostly on weekends and vacations), they were downright shabby.

We replaced the old forest green and burgundy towels with new ones in French vanilla, a perfect match for the off-white walls, floor tiles, and shower curtain, and the effect was magically uplifting. At the same time, we picked up pillows and linen shams to accentuate the coverlet on our bed. Now, instead of just looking “made,” it looks dressed.

Can You Boil an Egg?

Sure, almost anyone can hard boil an egg. But if you want it to emerge tender and unblemished, and to minimize the misery of shelling, you need to consider some niceties.

In the book Julia Child & Company (Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), Julia Child cautions that excess heat toughens an egg and causes that unsightly dark line that sometimes appears between yolk and white. She seems to subscribe to the then Georgia Egg Board’s “17-minute sit-in” approach, where eggs are submerged in a pot of cold water, brought to the boil, and then covered and removed from the heat, where they remain for 17 minutes before being peeled.

To shrink the egg body from the shell, making for easier peeling, they are immediately plunged into a bowl of ice water for one minute, after which they are plunged for 30 seconds back into the boiling cooking water, which was reheated while the eggs were in their ice water bath.

She also passes on a hint sent to her by two McCall’s magazine readers. “After cracking the shells all over and peeling a circle of shell off the large end, slip an ordinary teaspoon between shell and egg and work it down the egg all around to the small end, manipulating the egg under a thin stream of cold water or in a bowl of water as you go.”

What has always worked for me is what might be called the “10-minute sit-in” approach followed by an ice water bath….Oh, and I always begin with room temperature eggs. But who am I to argue with Julia?

Won’t you share your method?

Shelve This Idea

The last time I cleaned the pantry shelves built into the wall just outside my kitchen, I organized similar items together: Canned goods on one shelf, condiments on another….If you’re thinking that sounds like a no-brainer, you’re right. But rather than returning items to their rightful places, I had gotten into the bad habit of just sticking them wherever I saw a hole. Before long, I had to carefully scan every shelf in order to find anything.

Grouping related items definitely is a time saver. But in an article about kitchen organization by Nicole Sforza in the January 2013 issue of Real Simple magazine, organizing expert Chip Cordelli takes the concept one step further. He suggests creating a baker’s tray of the usual suspects (flour, sugar, vanilla, etc.), so everything you need is easily accessible (not to mention transportable) next time you decide to bake.

I also like Cordelli’s idea of following supermarket shelving strategy: “Stock bottom shelves several cans or jars deep, with one item in front to mark the category,” he explains. That way, you’ll always know when it’s time to refill.