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Entries in tip (25)


Shots of Hot Chocolate at City Bakery

So, in a previous post about City Bakery's hot chocolate, I mentioned how I wished they had a smaller portion size since I can rarely finish an entire cup. Lo and behold, I found out City Bakery sells shots of hot chocolate! Perfect, perfect, perfect size.

This is great for when I want to stop in this month to try out the different hot chocolate flavors at the City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival.


How to Correctly Brew a Cup of Tea

Want to know how to correctly brew a cup of tea for tea service? Martha Stewart has a couple of videos on how: Perfect Cup of Tea With Anton Edelmann and How to Brew a Cup of Tea.

Something I don't do, but will going forward, is to first pour hot boiling water into the pot and the teacups to warm them up. Throw out the water and pour hot water to be served into the teapot with loose leaf tea. 

Photo Credit:


Top 5 Tips: Collecting

Today's tips are from Cindy, a long-time collector who frequents antique shops, flea markets, and estate sales for pretty vintage home decor. (Check out her Etsy shop, Quaint Collector, to see her finds.) Thanks for these fantastic tips, Cindy!

By Cindy K

Exploring antique shops, flea markets and the web for everything from vintage aprons to tea cups over the last couple of decades has taught me a few things that might be helpful for new collectors - 

TIP #1: Collect What You Love
It only takes three like items to make a collection, and although you’ll want to consider trends, collect objects you love. Since no two collections are alike, foraging for beautiful treasures made in the past is so rewarding and allows you to create a unique home that reflects your own aesthetic. And, recycling and repurposing items with your own touch offers an added benefit by being good for the environment.

TIP #2: Educate Yourself
Of course, the Internet offers a vast amount of information on just about any collectible object (barbed wire, anyone?), but seek out sites that have a particular expertise (Miller's Antiques Guide is a great resource), and don’t forget museums, historic homes in person and in film (Downton Abbey is very inspiring as is Mad Men), and your local bookstore, newsstand or library. Sellers are also great resources and often more than willing to share specifics not only about a particular item, but also its genre, which is invaluable when building a collection.

TIP #3: Be Selective
Think of yourself as the curator for your own personal museum and carefully inspect each item you’re considering for condition. Antique and vintage items often appreciate in value over time, and someday you might want to downsize your collection by selling a few pieces, so purchase the best quality you can afford and always ask for a receipt. Even the smallest flaw will pose a challenge when taking photographs, pricing and creating an accurate description for online selling where the buyer cannot handle the item in person.

TIP #4: Negotiate Price, Respectfully
In order to avoid appearing too eager (OMG – there’s the handbag I’ve been searching for!), you’ll enjoy greater success as a bargainer if you can control your enthusiasm. Don’t be shy about price because sellers often expect a buyer to ask if they can do better and a 10% deduction is often the norm. And, although getting a great price makes the find even better, one thing I never do is knock the condition as the seller has probably already priced it in and it seems negative. Sometimes, grouping a few items together will get you a better price, so do consider a bundle.

TIP #5: Enjoy It
Collecting is a great pastime and can provide a lifetime of enjoyment. It’s educational and adventurous because you really never know what you’re going to find. Collecting is also a wonderful excuse for travel as it’s so nice to bring home a memento from a trip that has some local history to it. And, by all means, use your things rather than stowing them away for a special occasion because that toast and coffee tastes just a little bit better on Limoges. 


Peonies from the Union Square Greenmarket

Remember the gorgeous peonies last week from my monthly residential floral delivery

After 6 days, their time was up. They were so nice to have around, I decided to head over the the Union Square Greenmarket to replace them with fresh ones. The leaves and greens were still holding up well so I just needed to replace the flowers. 

At the Greenmarket, I found a vendor selling peonies for $5 a bundle. I got two bundles and brought them home to prep them for the floral arrangement.

Thankfully, Bella, from FleurBella, had given me some tips on how to keep peonies fresher, for longer. 

TIP #1: Keep the vase clean.
At the very least, pour out the water from the vase and replace with fresh cold water every day. Go one step further and take out the arrangement and wash the vase with soap and water, then fill with cold water on a daily basis. The best thing, if possible, is to take it even a step further and recut the flower.

TIP #2:  Never use scissors to cut the stem.
Bella shows in the photo above how stems should be cut. (The same as I had learned in my class at FlowerSchool.) You want a sharp knife and cut the stem at an angle. Scissors pinch the ends together which prevents the flower from getting as much water as it needs. Once the flower has been recut, don't let it sit on the counter, put it into fresh water immediately.

TIP #3: Flowers like the same things people do.
Meaning, flowers like to be in a space with nice air circulation, not near any extreme temperatures, like next to the air conditioner, and not in direct sunlight.

TIP #4: Warm water will encourage a peony to open.
If you see a peony not opening up like the others, take the flower out and recut, then put into a separate container in warm water. Once it opens, you can put it back into the arrangement.

TIP #5: Keep leaves out of the water.
The goal is to keep the water as clean as possible so make sure no leaves are sitting into the water. Take off any leaves from the flowers that may be below the water level.

And here's what I put together. It was fairly easy since I had the previous arrangement as a guide. It's not exact, but still looks great.

Pretty! Since I got them from the Greenmarket, I'm curious as to see how long they'll last especially since most were already fully open when I purchased them. We shall see...


Top 5 Tips: Visiting a Museum

Five excellent and practical tips on visiting a museum from Jennie Kim, an art historian.

TIP #1: Take advantage of extended hours.
Museums tend to be less crowded during the time they offer extended hours since most people (including tourists) may not know about it. 

TIP #2: Look at the fine print.
Look carefully at the fine print regarding museum admissions. For example, The Met's admission is suggested, and therefore, is pay what you wish. 

TIP #3: Use side or back entrance to avoid long lines.
Avoid the crowds and the long lines at the main entrance by looking for side or back entrances which usually have shorter lines. (I've used this tip at the Louvre in Paris with great success.)

TIP #4: Do more with your museum admission.
In addition to the docent tours, museums often have lectures and symposiums given by scholars and specialists, which you have access to with your museum admissions. Ask the information desk to see what's available to you that day.

TIP #5: Start at the end.
When walking to a crowded special exhibition, especially for those with timed tickets, work backwards and start at the end. You'll be able to avoid the bottleneck that usually forms at the first few galleries.

See All Tips