Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Devil’s in the Details

The menu for my Sunday brunch couldn’t have been simpler: Basically, bagels, lox, and cream cheese. Yet the meal might have been more relaxing for my guests and for me, if I’d considered all the details.

Since I was out all weekend with my overnight visitor, I was short on time for Sunday’s preparation. Still, the night before, I had selected and washed the serving dishes. And, early Sunday morning, I had arranged everything attractively on the platters and set the table. But it wasn’t until just before everyone arrived that I noticed some gaps: The table was too small to accommodate all the platters; the bagels hadn’t been sliced, and I’d neglected to put out water glasses and a pitcher.

Such oversights can be easily avoided by giving the process a little more forethought–a virtual walk-through, so to speak. For such a small gathering, the lapses could be easily addressed. (I turned the grand piano into a sidebar, delegated the bread slicing to a guest, and ducked into the kitchen now and then to refill the water glasses.) But such slip ups can be really disruptive, if you’re serving a multi-course meal to a large group.

Whatever Happened to Spring Cleaning?

When my sister-in-law answered the phone the other day, she was exuberant. “I just finished cleaning the windows,” she explained. Having just washed the windows in my own apartment, I understood her enthusiasm. I’m inspired to tackle that particular chore, only because the windows are so coated with dirt by winter’s end that you can hardly see through them. But I don’t necessarily get around to many of the other deep cleaning jobs that once comprised the annual spring cleaning ritual?

My mother–every mother, it seemed–designated several days at the start of the season to readying the house for summer living and entertaining. She beat the rugs, exchanged seasonal wardrobes and sent woolens to the cleaner, laundered curtains, switched to summer slipcovers. It was backbreaking work but with a big payoff: A home that sparkled from top to bottom and a clear mind for another six months.

Many of us work outside the home these days, and don’t have big chunks of time to devote to such endeavors. However, since doing so is likely to brighten your spirits along with your surroundings, you may want to make time for serious freshening. Try scheduling a job each night for a week or two. Or set aside weekend leisure for bigger undertakings, such as reorganizing a cluttered closet. You may be surprised at the lift that will result.

Want to spring into action, but not sure how? Take a look at this instructive site, which offers room-by-room checklists, step-by-step directions, and tips for speeding the process and making it fun.  Click on “Complete Spring Cleaning Checklists” on the left.

Fried or Scrambled….

Maybe, like me, you think of serving your overnight guests the kinds of special breakfasts they’d expect from a hotel: Bacon and eggs, omelets, pancakes, or waffles. But I’ve found that it’s a good idea to ask people what they eat. A surprising number prefer something more modest or nothing at all.

A friend who stayed overnight with us in the city last week can’t face food first thing in the morning. She had a cup of coffee, then two hours later happily downed a buttered slice of health bread and a cup of Greek fruit yogurt. A cousin who is coming next weekend has requested a city breakfast of bagels,lox, and cream cheese.