Friday, March 11, 2016

The Duvet Cover

Early in my housekeeping career, I sewed two import store madras bedspreads together to cover a hiker's not quite ultralight down sleeping bag that zipped open flat. The spreads made a pleasantly sloppy version of a pillow case. The extra length at the top extended the comfort range of the bag. The hand-spun short staple cotton was a warm as flannel. Making the bed was a trivial matter of airing it, flipping the duvet back into place, tucking excess fabric under the edges, and fluffing the pillows. Using a duvet shaved measurable minutes off morning housekeeping.

Perhaps I missed a memo somewhere in the evolution of contemporary housekeeping. The world of bed-making seems to have added the duvet as a layer of complexity rather than the move toward simplicity it was in the beginning. I learned about duvets from mountain climbers who had visited Switzerland. 

It's no great task to sew two flat sheets together, even by hand. Double-stick basting tape stabilizes fabric placement. Use a running and/or back stitch and wax the thread. A hand-sewn seam flexes and extends the life of the fabric.

By the way, that original sleeping bag cost a month's 1966 wage. It lasted eleven years in my house and unknown years in a cousin's, saving countless gallons of heating oil and pounds of CO2 in addition to two hundred hours of bed-making. The down of a weary bag can be recycled into pillow filling at the Phinney Ridge down cleaning operation. I believe in respecting the price the goose paid for my comfort. The Great Big Hiking Co-op carries a refined version of the low-end synthetic zip-flat car camping bag that is excellent value at about $70. In this climate, slightly heavier and less compressible synthetic filling performs better than down, although I understand there are now damp-proof down fills on the market.


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Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Pratie

Bake a first-rate potato, the long torpedo-shaped tuber that is often aged for use as french fries. The next day, peel the thing and slice it into irregular bite-sized faceted flakes.

Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a cast-iron pan large enough to permit a monolayer of potato. The rule is hot pan, cold oil. Heat the oil almost to smoking and toss in the potato fragments. The thin edges of the pieces will fry crisp while the thicker parts heat through quickly. Brown the pieces hot and fast.

Shortly you will have a simple, rich-flavored, salt-free side dish that complements a chop, salad, or breakfast. I grind pepper over the fry to roast the spice.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Pretty Details Add Germs

I happily took myself off the origami napkin hook when I learned that the more one handles a piece of linen, the more microorganisms are deposited on the fabric. The simple three folds of a conventional presentation are enough.

The same holds true for bathroom tissue. The considerate finish one finds in public accommodation is folded by the same gloved hands that have accomplished a long process of sanitizing unknown filth.


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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

How To Keep An Easily Cleanable House

Take your shoes off when you enter.
Store nothing on the floor.
Store nothing on horizontal surfaces.
Store nothing on the plumbing fixtures.
Store a roll of plastic bags inside each waste container.
  


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Monday, March 7, 2016

Busting The Overload

I find it helpful to allocate each week of the month to specific categories of tasks. One is dedicated to the appointments that chew up my schedule. Another is for administrative tasks, a third for finance, and the last for procurement. Odd days at the beginning and end of the month are sheer gravy.


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More after the jump.