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Ask Martha

Organizing media cords, cooking veggies, storing vintage linens

Q. My husband loves his technology, but the back of our entertainment center is a jumble of cords. Is there a way to organize the cords and hide them from view?

A. The first step to organizing your knot of wires is bundling them together with either Velcro strips or cable ties. Gather the cables together starting at the electronics, and work your way toward the power source. Try to group them by purpose — keep TV, cable, and DVD cords in one group; stereo and speaker cords in another; and so forth.

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Once the cables are bundled, label each so you’ll know which cord is which. Write the name of each device with a permanent marker on plastic key tags (available at most office supply stores), and attach the clips to the proper cords.

Even after you’ve untangled, arranged, and identified your cords, there may be surplus cable lengths peeking out from behind your media center. Belkin’s covered surge protector ($59, belkin.com) lets you plug in your devices and tuck cords into a separate compartment. Another option is a covered cable box, which camouflages a surge protector you already have. For
instance, the Bluelounge
CableBox ($30, www.blue
lounge.com) has ample room to contain looped wires, hiding everything from view.

Q. Which cooking method ensures that vegetables retain the most nutrients?

A. Any cooking technique will affect a vegetable’s nutrient value. Boiling or steaming, for example, will cause vitamins and minerals such as iron to leach into the water. But even if you overcook veggies, you’ll still be left with healthful, vitamin- and mineral-rich food.

In fact, cooking actually increases the digestibility of the nutrients of some produce. Cooked tomatoes can give you more of the antioxidant lycopene than raw ones. Lightly cooking cabbage can make it easier for the body to digest and absorb the vegetable’s nutrients, such as beta-carotene. The bottom line: Fill half your plate at every meal with vegetables and fruits. Eat whichever varieties you like. If you prefer sauteed spinach to raw, or roasted potatoes to baked, prepare them in whichever way you prefer. If a favorite vegetable is out of season, don’t hesitate to buy it frozen. (Just check the ingredients and steer clear of packages with high-calorie and high-fat syrups and sauces.) For a little guidance on spicing up the plant-based half of your plate, check out www.choosemy
plate.gov
.

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Q. I inherited many vintage linens and crocheted doilies. What is the proper way to care for them?

A. The best way to store vintage linens is to layer them with acid-free tissue paper, and then place them in a dry, dark place such as a cupboard or a shelf that has been painted or lined. It’s important to use acid-free tissue paper, which prevents the fabric from turning yellow. You should also keep the fabrics away from light, humidity, and unfinished wood, which can alter or stain the linens over time.

Whether you roll or fold the fabric is up to you, but rolling is preferable for items you’re going to be storing for a long time because it minimizes creasing.

If rolling, use old mailing tubes: Begin by covering the tube with a sheet of acid-free tissue paper, and then wrap the linens one by one around the tube, placing a sheet of acid-free tissue paper between each piece. Finish by wrapping a sheet of cellophane around the whole roll and securing it with a piece of acid-free tape. If you’re folding the linens, tuck one sheet of acid-free tissue paper between the linens, and then place them in a stack before putting away.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living.

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