"Utterly useful . . . its own cultural Rorschach." –New York Times
The simplest things are the hardest to master. This book provides unparalleled insights into how to accomplish your daily tasks better–more resourcefully, more effectively, and more efficiently–in a collection of brief, entertaining how-to essays by 100 of the world’s leading authorities. Topics include:
Interpersonal skills, such as how to listen by Larry King
Etiquette essentials, such as how to set a formal table by Peggy Post
Home pointers, such as how to paint a room by Bob Vila
Beauty basics, including how to apply lipstick by Bobbi Brown
Cooking tips, such as how to barbecue by Bobby Flay
Health hints, such as how to breathe by Bikram Choudhury
Athletic advice, including how to hit a tennis ball by Jennifer Capriati
"A brilliant package." –USA Weekend
"Packed with advice." –Newsweek
"The latest insights into how to do much of the day-to-day stuff better, more resourcefully, more effectively." –Family Circle
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About the Author
SAMANTHA ETTUS is the host and coproducer of the Internet’s Obsessed TV. She is also the creator of The Experts’ Guide to Life at Home, The Experts’ Guide to the Baby Years, and The Experts’ Guide to Doing Things Faster. Samantha holds a BA and an MBA from Harvard University.
Read an Excerpt
Make a Bed
Tracey R. Henderson
Tracey R. Henderson is the Holiday Inn Executive Housekeeper of the Year 2003. She is currently the Executive Housekeeper at the Holiday InnSelect in Norfolk, VA.
1 mattress pad
1 fitted sheet
1 flat sheet
First, spread out the mattress pad over the mattress, covering it from head to foot. Then take your fitted sheet and place it over the mattress pad so that your mattress pad is snug. Place the flat sheet on the bed wrong side up. Then do the same with the blanket. At the base of the bed, tuck in both the flat sheet and the blanket (start from the center and work your way to the corners). Now, take the loose end of the sheet on one side of the foot of the bed and pull it straight up onto the bed, forming a triangular fold. Tuck the hanging end of the sheet under the mattress. Pull the triangular fold over the mattress and tuck that in nice and neat. Complete this process on the other side of the bed.
At the head of the bed, fold the blanket and flat sheet down 4 inches and tuck the sides in neatly. Now, put the bedspread on the bed, making sure there are equal amounts on all sides so that the spread doesn't touch the floor. Fold down about 31/2 feet of the spread from the head of the bed.
It is now time to cover the pillows. Insert the pillows into the pillowcases. Fold the open end of both pillowcases inward so that the ends look finished. Place the pillows side by side on the folded-down seam of the bedspread, and fold the remaining spread over the pillows. Make sure to cover the pillows completely so that this looks very neat and tight-this is the final step in preparing your bed. Now, step back and admire your work. Show someone else the job you've done so that they can pat you on the back.
Do Push-Ups and Sit-Ups
Kathy Smith is a contributing editor to Self magazine and has been named Healthy America Fitness Leader by the National Fitness Leaders Association in conjunction with the President's Council on Physical Fitness. She is also a member of the Video Hall of Fame. She is the author of numerous books, including Kathy Smith's Lift Weights to Lose Weight.
The fact is, your arms may know how to do a push-up, but doing it properly is something you have to teach your entire body. The key to the perfect push-up is alignment. Your body should be held in a rigid, straight line-like a plank of wood-and move up and down without bowing or sagging. To do a push-up well, you need to focus less on the arm movement and more on stabilizing muscles throughout the body.
The following is a series of preliminary steps to help you focus on your alignment and develop the body awareness to do the push-ups with correct form.
1. Stand 2 to 3 feet from a wall with legs shoulder-width apart. (Standing adjacent to a mirror will help you judge your alignment.)
2. Place your palms on the wall, slightly below shoulder height, fingers pointed upward.
3. Contract your quadriceps to lift your kneecaps. Release and reengage 5 times, to get the feel of this action.
4. Now contract your inner thighs, as though you were trying to slide your feet together. Again, release and reengage these muscles 5 times.
5. Contract the muscles of your buttocks. Squeeze and release 5 times.
6. Elongate your torso by lifting the chest and pulling your belly toward your spine. Do this 5 times.
7. Pull your shoulders down, away from your ears, and pull your shoulder blades together in back, as though you were trying to pinch a pencil between them. Again, 5 reps.
8. Now, contract each of these areas in sequence-quadriceps, inner thighs, buttocks, stomach, chest, and shoulder blades-and hold them until all are engaged. Tightly holding all these stabilizers and keeping your body in a straight line, bend at the elbows and bring your body to the wall. Memorize the sensation of stability and alignment.
Doing push-ups against a wall is intended for learning purposes only. Once you have the feel for how to hold your body straight, try the same move with your hands on the back of a sturdy table top or railing-and, eventually, on the floor.
Two common mistakes are leading with the belly and "nose diving" with your butt in the air. To avoid these, simply maintain good standing posture throughout the move. Your head should be in a neutral position, in line with the rest of your spine. To help achieve this, look at a spot about 5 inches in front of you. To avoid leading with your head, place a small pillow under your chest and let that be the first point of contact as you lower yourself.
Always do only as many repetitions as you can with good form.
The Perfect Sit-Up
Standard sit-ups don't effectively target the stomach muscles and, worse, place unnecessary stress on the lower spine. Fortunately, the traditional sit-up has evolved into a safer and more effective variation known as the crunch. The crunch is designed to target the rectus abdominis, the uppermost of the 4 abdominal muscle layers. If you train consistently, assuming you do some aerobic exercise and watch your diet, crunches are a great way to build the coveted "six-pack." Here's how:
1. Lie on your back and draw your knees up until your feet rest flat on the floor. Your feet should be about hip distance apart and about 2 feet below your sit bones.
2. Clasp your hands behind your head.
3. Very slowly raise your shoulders and upper back about 30 degrees from the floor. Curl your upper body forward as though you're trying to touch your chin to your navel.
4. At the same time as your shoulders curl forward, let your pelvis rock upward slightly; visualize the tip of your tailbone and your ribs drawing together.
5. Keep your legs, arms, and neck relaxed throughout the motion.
6. Hold for about 1 second and release.
7. Work up to two sets of 15 repetitions. When crunches become too easy, you can increase the challenge by holding a weight to your chest or behind your head.
Now, I want to point out that precisely because crunches are such a great isolation exercise, they shouldn't be the only abdominal work you do. By supplementing your crunches with some form of core training, such as yoga or Pilates, you can augment that sexy firm stomach or six-pack with a host of benefits, including better posture, a slimmer appearance, more graceful movement, and improved sports performance.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten is the chef and owner of fifteen restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Chicago, Houston, Paris, the Bahamas, and Shanghai. He has won four James Beard awards and is the author of three cookbooks, including Simple to Spectacular: How to Take One Basic Recipe to Four Levels of Sophistication.
Ten minutes, a saucepan, a whisk, some butter, and some eggs-this is all you need to make the perfect scrambled eggs. This recipe is for two people but you can double it. If you have only a nonstick pan, switch the whisk for a wooden spoon and the result will be just as good.
Combine 5 eggs, 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter, and salt and pepper to taste in a saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-high and begin to beat the egg mixture with a whisk, stirring almost constantly but not so fast that it becomes foamy.
After the butter melts, the mixture will begin to thicken, and then lump up in small curds. This will take between 3 and 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of your pan and the heat level. If the mixture begins to stick on the bottom, remove the pan from the heat for a moment, and continue to whisk. Then return it to the heat.
When the eggs become creamy, with small curds all over-not unlike loose oatmeal-they are ready. Serve them immediately so as not to overcook. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. The trick is to stop the cooking while the eggs are still very loose. You should eat them with a spoon.
This is the basic recipe. And while simple is great, you may let your imagination run and dress up those scrambled eggs by adding other ingredients (cheese, tomatoes, herbs, truffles...). Or top them with caviar.