Friday, March 18, 2016

Bulb Betters Lamp

I like a well-designed reading lamp with a silk shade as much as the next housekeeper, but a tinny hardware store shop light with the right bulb in it sheds rays that are just as useful as those from a cast pewter base.

One of the principal rooms on the main floor of the house has morphed into a working studio. I light key areas with two-bit clamp-on UL lamps with bakelite sockets. For Christmas dinner, I tuck the shop lights away and bring out candlesticks.


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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Three Suits

A mentor remarked that one of her friends kept a very small wardrobe in her Sixties San Francisco digs. "She has three suits. She buys a new one every year. Of course, you have to be wealthy to do that. If you're poor, you keep things because you might need them some day."

Rummaging in my clothes chest over the week-end, I sorted things into suits and found the key to managing the daily uniform.


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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Survival Pillow

I threw a pair of Great Big Northern European Home Furnishings Chain quilted bedspreads over a sofa to integrate the piece with the wall colors of a new location. The spreads come with pillow shams, and I filled them with seldom-used down clothing and spare sleeping bags. 

It's worth sacrificing a little bit of efficiency to have the gear in daily use. Should I want unimpaired performance from a bag, a new one will not cost much more than a first-rate pillow.


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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Perfect, Simple, Small Space Breakfast That's Easy To Keep On Hand

The old line American maker of oven-proof glass sells a shallow, covered storage tray about the size of an airline dish.

Choose a fine apple, wash it, and pare the peel with a small sharp knife. A fast way to do this is to cut off the base and shoulders of the fruit and then trim the remaining skin. Slice bite-sized faceted flakes off the apple and dress them with sour cream. Store in the dish. After a few hours, the fruit will have absorbed the acid component of the cream, leaving a delicate coating of what tastes like whipped cream.

Mix smoked salmon (or canned salmon and a drop of smoke seasoning) with cream cheese or neufchatel. Store in the glass dish described above.

Make coffee, serve the salmon alongside sesame seed crackers that just fit into the same storage format, and set up a small dish of the apples. 


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Monday, March 14, 2016

Up To Speed

Fashion ain't quite my thing, but function knocks my socks off. Starting with Caterine Milinaire and Carol Troy's legendary manual Cheap Chic, I slowly brought my working wardrobe out of the Sixties and into real life. I started by saving every thrift shop receipt for a year. The total convinced me that I could buy quite a nice suit for what I was spending on rags. The suit paid for itself in two months with increased business. There is medical value, too, in feeling well but not excessively dressed.

I am still reluctant to wear a new garment. Usually I let one age for a season or two. It's not unusual to wear a favorite for ten or fifteen years. In the process of slapping my own racks when the season shifts or there's a hole in my inventory, I have come to realize that fashion, at least the part of the spectrum I observe now and then, can be relied on to produce a look that refreshes things I already own with just a rearrangement of existing staples or the acquisition of one new piece.

Japan's Pleatmaster clothing designer is offering a collection that expands the classic five-piece week-end wardrobe beloved of the Vogue Pattern Book. The new elements are coat, jacket, top, one-piece, skirt, and stole. I'd add trousers. The palette is convenient: brown, khaki, light blue, and black.

I shopped on an annual clothing budget equal to that 1977 thrift shop total until 2013. I opened the purse strings a bit to accommodate changes in my body, activities, and the neighborhood. Now that I know what works for the new regime, I anticipate reverting to my previous frugality. Everyone knows, though, that hats don't count.


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