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Martha Stewart, as we all know, can artfully squeeze perfect little buttercream roses atop cakes, fold a (probably handmade) napkin into the shape of a Christmas tree and decorate formerly ordinary bars of soap with lovely hand-pressed flowers. Well, guess what? It turns out the queen of DIY and America's authority on domestic perfection can also fix a leaky ceiling, replace window panes, raise chickens and fly a kite.
Her new book The Martha Manual: How to Do (Almost) Everything is yet more evidence that there truly may be (almost) nothing Stewart can't do. It's full of mostly useful — if sometimes random (“how to hang a tire swing”?) — tips on how to unclog a toilet, winterize your garden, organize a tag sale, groom your dog and so much more.
Here are some highlights.
How to ...
… remove bits of food stuck on pots and pans: “Fill pot with water and ¼ cup baking soda. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and let soak for an hour before scraping the pot clean with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.”
… make fluffier pancakes: “Bring your wet ingredients to room temperature before using them; cold liquids and eggs produce soggy pancakes.”
… pit cherries: “Unbend (halfway) a paper clip, insert it in the stem end, then twist it around (be patient at first; you’ll eventually get it) until the pit comes right out.”
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
… store basil: "Trim the stems and stand them in a tall glass of water. Loosely cover the basil with the plastic bag it came in, cinching it around the base; this will extend its life for a couple of days.”
… throw a cocktail party: “For double-duty drinks, prepare nonalcoholic punches for all to enjoy, setting out a bottle or two of liquor so any of your guests can spike their own drinks.”
… save energy: When using the dryer, do “back-to-back loads so the drum needn’t heat up each time (a big part of a dryer’s energy usage).”
… protect your kitchen counter: “Adhere furniture pads to the base of your toaster to protect countertops and to make it easier to slide in and out (this trick works for all small countertop appliances).”
… clean your coffee and spice grinder: “Run soft bread or uncooked white rice through a grinder to pick up lingering spice particles and the oils they leave behind.”
… clean gum stuck on a wood floor: “Cover the area for five minutes with a plastic bag filled with ice, and then scrape with a credit card or spoon.”
… iron clothes: “Keep the iron moving, but don’t rush. After finishing one area, wait about 10 seconds before moving on, to set the press."