March 18, 2011
MY LOVE AFFAIR with trees began many years ago. I realized the importance of trees in a residential landscape and tried hard to learn which ones would grow well, lending beauty and importance to the land. I read all sorts of landscape books, including a very early one written by Humphry Repton describing his designs for some of the greatest parks surrounding many of England's stately homes. Repton's cleverly painted overlays of what could be, placed over accurate drawings of what existed, were an early and extremely successful tool.
October 22, 2010
I NEVER LEAVE home without a camera. In fact, I have three in my handbag right now: a Canon PowerShot G11 and the cameras in my phone and BlackBerry. I can use them interchangeably if I want an image to remind me of something - a shape, a color, an idea. If I am planning to blog or publish a photo, I will reach for the G11 to attain a higher resolution and a better-quality picture. My growing penchant for taking pictures and sharing them - whether by e-mail, Twitter, blogs, prints, photo books or magazines - is not unique.
October 15, 2010
- think cookies that are evenly baked and roasts that are browned on the outside, juicy on the inside. What's more, foods are ready faster, since the appliances heat them more quickly than traditional ovens. But using one may require tinkering with a recipe's cooking time or temperature, which can make even the most seasoned cook nervous. Two features make convection ovens heat food faster and more evenly than standard ovens. One is a fan in the rear wall, which circulates warm air around the food.
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.