October 8, 2010
THE ARRIVAL of autumn is a good thing on its own, but these clever ideas make celebrating the season even better. Broom-care tips 1. Moisture can be good for brooms with bristles made of plant fibers (such as corn). Periodically sweeping dewy grass (or rain or snow off steps) will clean the fibers and keep them supple. 2. To maintain the shape of your broom, hang it on a wall or store it upside down. 3. If the bristles become splayed, submerge them in warm water for 30 seconds.
October 1, 2010
Q: I've recently scanned my 35 mm slides. What's the best way to store the slides? Carousels accumulate dust and take up too much space. A: All photographic materials break down over time, so you're smart to scan your slides. But hard drives, even when backed up regularly, aren't foolproof, so take care to protect the originals. Conservators generally recommend two types of slide enclosures. One is transparent sheets, preferably made of uncoated polyester, polypropylene or polyethylene, with a slot for each slide.
September 24, 2010
EVER SINCE I've owned a house, I've wanted to raise farm animals. In Middlefield, Mass., where we had a woodland farmstead, our first animals were chickens, sheltered in a coop fashioned from our daughter Alexis' outgrown playhouse. A small yard fenced with chicken wire kept them safe from wild varmints - opossums, hawks, raccoons and weasels - and they laid dozens of delicious eggs that spoiled us forever. I've had a backyard coop ever since. While living in Westport, Conn., I became very serious about the quality of my food, opting for my own chickens and eggs, organically grown vegetables, and home-raised ducks, turkeys, lambs, goats, sheep, and even a hog or two. I joined a club, the Fairfield Organic Gardeners, where I met scores of like-minded women who experimented with milking goats, brining hams, smoking bacon, slaughtering chickens and ducks, plucking turkeys, and growing tasty, healthy vegetables and fruits.
September 17, 2010
IT LOOKS straightforward. An upholstered piece of furniture is little more than fabric stapled or tacked to a padded frame, right? In fact, there's far more to achieving the crisp perfection and deep comfort of upholstery. That's why purchasing a new sofa (or chair) can be so expensive, and why even re-covering a well-worn heirloom is sometimes costly. That said, quality construction may be more economical than replacing a piece every 10 years or so. Before you make the investment, it helps to understand what goes into making a well-crafted sofa.
September 10, 2010
Dear Martha: How do I preserve wine left over from an opened bottle? A: To keep leftover wine fresh, store it in a cool place and limit its contact with air. Refrigeration is a good idea - it will slow oxidation and curb the organisms that can spoil the wine, says Andrew Waterhouse, chairman of the department of viticulture and enology at the University of California, Davis. (Bring red wine to room temperature before serving.) Two products - vacuum pumps and inert gas dispensers - reduce exposure to air, giving you a few extra days to enjoy white wines and up to a week for some sturdier reds.
September 3, 2010
Dear Martha: How should I prepare my patio furniture for winter storage? A: Although most outdoor furniture is built to withstand the elements, proper maintenance and storage in the offseason helps it last much longer. First, remove the cushions and umbrella, and clean them according to the directions on the label. If there are no instructions, wash them using a sponge and 1/4 cup mild dishwashing liquid, such as Ivory, mixed into 1 gallon of warm water. Rinse the fabric, and then stand the cushions on their sides.
August 27, 2010
Dear Martha: After decorating a cake, how do I transfer it to the plate I plan to present it on? A: One approach is to assemble your cake directly on the plate or cake stand you intend to serve it on. That way you won't have to move it at all. To protect the stand from drips and smudges, slip strips of parchment under the cake around the perimeter before frosting. Once the cake has been decorated, slide out the parchment. If, however, you use a cake turntable or buy an iced cake, you'll need to transfer the tiers.
August 20, 2010
HERE ARE some good ideas, for summer and beyond. Watering-can shower To avoid tracking in sand or soil after a day at the beach or working in the garden, set up a rinsing station just outside your door or at another convenient location. The steady stream from an ordinary watering can cleans every unwanted speck from your feet. Around the world Don't stash away or discard maps from your favorite vacation spots. Use them to make these handy coasters and you'll be reminded of that special destination every time you reach for one. Create a set for yourself and another for your travel companions.
August 13, 2010
I AMASSED quite an assortment of early 20th-century concrete faux-bois (literally, false wood) furniture more than a decade ago. I thought that using this heavy, unusual, rustic, artisanal furniture would add a touch of whimsy to the rather formal arrangements of the mostly English antiques found throughout the house. The house itself was constructed from blocks of granite, and the faux bois reiterated the handcrafted look of the architecture. When I started collecting, I found most of the pieces at antiques shows, such as the New York Botanical Garden show and the Lexington Avenue Armory Garden Antiques Show (which now takes place in Chicago)
August 6, 2010
A: The simplest way to save leftover herbs is to dry them. Spread the sprigs on a dish towel, and leave them out of direct sunlight for two to four days. Use them on their own, or mix the herbs, finely chopped, with an equal amount of coarse salt. Add the blend to dishes as you cook or at the table - try marjoram with vegetables, and tarragon with fish and poultry. Fragrant herbs such as lavender can scent sugar: Place a few dried flowers in a jar of sugar for one week, shaking it occasionally.