TIME advice

8 Clever Ways to Decorate With Tools

garden-tools-wall
Getty Images

Reusing old household items can give your home a fun, rustic dimension

Thinking of revamping your home to give it that rustic chic look? Skip Anthropologie, head straight to your shed, and gather up all those tools you rarely use. There are countless ways to use old saws, ladders and pitchforks to transform your home into something new.

Toolbox
Forget that it was once a toolbox. Just look at those gorgeous compartments and think about all the ways you can get organized. Here, we have crayons and other art supplies, but you could use it for jewelry, cat or dog toys, spices, sewing supplies or remote controls. The possibilities only end with your imagination.

Hoes
Many people often have duplicate garden tools. But how many hoes does a person really need? Consider lining your fence with rakes, pitchforks and shovels to fortify your garden against hungry critters and to make your planting beds even snazzier.

Rakes
It shouldn’t be called a rake; it should be called the most versatile tool you own. Those old metal ones rip up your lawn, so why not transform them into something else entirely? From wine holder to a place to hang your necklaces to a hook for your keys, an old rake will become your best friend. Heck, you can even mount it on the wall and hang other garden tools from its prongs.

Wheelbarrow
Want a portable planter that you can move without breaking your back? Use a wheelbarrow and give your plants as much shade or sun as they need.

Nails
How many nails do you have in your basement or shed? Probably too many. Use those nails to create something beautiful. Nail them into a piece of wood and wrap string around them to create the design of your choosing. Maybe a star, or a set of initials. This would make a great DIY gift, too.

Saw
Tools, by themselves, are often quite beautiful if we put aside their functionality and focus on their design. Have an old saw? Hang it on your wall like you would a piece of art. You can even put an old frame around it. Or use brackets, chains and hooks to create a collage of tools on your wall.

Wrenches
I’m convinced that anything can become a hook if you want it badly enough, and these wrenches are a great example. Transform them into something else entirely and use them to hang almost anything on. They’re made to be durable, so you never have to worry about them breaking.

Ladder
Sometimes you end up with an old ladder that you wouldn’t want to actually stand on. Instead, consider all its other uses. Hang your towels to dry, or suspend the ladder from the ceiling to hang your pots and pans. Even just propping a ladder against a wall can give a room a lovely outdoorsy feel.

This article originally appeared on MNN.com.

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TIME advice

13 Mother’s Day Gifts for Book Lovers

These titles are sure to delight that special lady this Mother’s Day

  • My Mom, Style Icon by Piper Weiss

    9780811878814_large
    Chronicle Books

    Based on the blog of the same name, this book is perfect for a fashionable mom. Filled with photos and stories of stylish women from the past several decades, it will take her on a trip down memory lane. All of the stories are grouped by theme—from wedding fashion to a mother’s “rebellious” choices—along with anecdotes from daughters (and sons!) who watched their mothers’ style evolve.

    To buy: $19, chroniclebooks.com.

  • Balancing Acts: Three Prima Ballerinas Becoming Mothers by Lucy Gray

    gray-balancing
    Princeton Architectural Press

    This book of photographs follows three ballerinas-turned-mothers over the course of 14 years. All three decided to have children in the midst of their already physically taxing careers, and award-winning photographer Lucy Gray captures a unique work-life balance as they parent behind the curtain and perform onstage. If your mother is into classical ballet or appreciates photography, she’ll love these stunning, intimate black-and-white photos.

    To buy: $19, amazon.com.

  • Icebox Cakes by Jean Sagendorph and Jessie Sheehan

    icebox-cakes
    Chronicle Books

    Now, she can bake her favorite childhood dessert from scratch. With more than 20 recipes for every taste—from lavender-blueberry to espresso chip—she’ll want to give each old-school cake a try. The cookbook also lists the essential tools she’ll need, so if you notice one that’s missing from her kitchen, buy it to complete the gift.

    To buy: $15, amazon.com.

  • The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook by Kate White

    mystery-cookbook
    Quirk Books

    This unconventional cookbook features breakfasts, appetizers, desserts, cocktails and more from your favorite mystery authors and their characters. The book also offers multiple sidebars that link the food to the fiction—like poisons people used to plant in their gardens, and an explainer about how “red herring” went from the plate to the page.

    To buy: $19, amazon.com.

  • Mom’s One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book

    moms-one-line
    Chronicle Books

    This journal makes it easy to keep track of everyday memories, and she can chronicle and compare special experiences, funny family quotes, or random thoughts for years. It’s a fun way to jot down even the simplest daily activities, and turns keeping a diary into a meaningful task for mom, too.

    To buy: $10, amazon.com.

  • Diamond Head by Cecily Wong

    wong-diamond
    Harper

    Following a horrific tragedy, four generations of women are forced to deal with a long-kept family secret. The wives and daughters of the Leong family are haunted by a Chinese legend that says each person is bound to their beloved with an invisible string, but whenever they make a romantic mistake, that string gathers knots. This knotted string is passed through generations, and ends with Theresa—18 and pregnant—who is burdened with the Leong family secrets. The novel spans years and perspectives—chapters are told by sisters, daughters, and wives—as the women grieve, and eventually rebuild.

    To buy: $20, amazon.com.

  • Capture the Moment by Sarah Wilkerson

    capture-moment
    Amphoto Books

    This book is both beautiful to page through and a thorough instruction manual for beginning photographers. More than 100 contributors from Clickin Moms, the largest female-photographer social network, have included photographs and advice for capturing basic, understated moments in everyday life and beautiful ways to chronicle family in photos. She’ll be inspired to pick up her camera and finally use it—without having to attend an actual photography class.

    To buy: $16, amazon.com.

  • The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Scott Dodson

    dodson-ginsburg
    Cambridge University Press

    A history-buff mom will want to curl up with this recently-released history of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy for hours every night. It discusses Ginsburg’s career as a lawyer, professor, appellate judge, and justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, focusing on her most influential cases. Many leaders from academic and political fields contribute to create a thorough picture of her impressive career.

    To buy: $27, amazon.com.

  • Listen to Your Mother by Ann Imig

    listen-mother
    G.P. Putnam's Sons

    This collection of stories was born from a live event asking women to share their stories about motherhood—now the show happens in more than 20 cities across America. This frank, funny, and touching anthology puts many of those stories down on paper, and discusses the complex and diverse array of parenting experiences, from step-motherhood to infertility, and everything in between.

    To buy: $20, amazon.com.

  • Everyone Loves Paris by Leslie Jonath

    jonath-paris
    teNeues

    For the mom who loves travel, and specifically has a soft spot for Paris, this illustrated coffee table book highlights the city’s most memorable tourist destinations and charming streets with 85 full-color illustrations and interpretations of city life. Even if she isn’t an artist herself, she’ll appreciate this unique look at the City of Light.

    To buy: $21, amazon.com.

  • Cookie Love by Kate Leahy and Mindy Segal

    segal-cookie
    Ten Speed Press

    She doesn’t have to be a pro baker and decorator to make a batch of cookies, but she can be inspired to go beyond chocolate chip. This book contains almost 300 pages of unexpected cookie concoctions (with beautiful photographs) and expert baking secrets, as well as the pantry ingredients she’ll need to have in her kitchen at all times so that she can make a batch whenever she wants.

    To buy: $19, amazon.com.

  • Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book by Johanna Basford

    basford-forest
    Laurence King Publishing

    Coloring books are no longer just for kids—they can be a creative way for adults to relax and unwind, as well. While this book has childlike elements—like hidden objects for the artist to find—its intricate scenes and high-quality paper to prevent bleeding make it the perfect de-stressing activity for grown-ups—almost therapeutic.

    To buy: $11, amazon.com.

  • Inspire: The Art of Living with Nature

    crossley-inspire_300
    CICO Books

    This beautiful book offers up inventive tips for incorporating elements of the outdoors into entertaining and home décor. It’s divided by outdoor spaces—including sections on Flower Gardens, Beaches, and Vegetable Patches—with specific projects that help bring the outside in through vases, mantel décor, wreaths, and more.

    To buy: $19, amazon.com.

    This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

    More from Real Simple:

MONEY College

Unsolicited Advice for the Class of 2015

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Dorann Weber—Getty Images

Tips for graduates about to enter the workplace.

More than a million people will be awarded a bachelor’s degree in the next month.

Congratulations!

Not that you asked, but a few words of advice…

If a company didn’t hire you because your SAT scores weren’t good enough, don’t feel bad. Be relieved. A company that short-sighted is probably a miserable place to work anyway.

Once you’re hired, no one cares what school you went to. They care about: Whether you’re pleasant to work with, whether you’re good at your job, and whether you make them feel good about themselves (in that order).

Be totally honest in job interviews. Embrace reality if you’re not a good fit.

Don’t feel bad changing careers. The odds that you have your life figured out at age 22 are barely higher than at age 18.

Get comfortable with the idea that some of what you were taught in school doesn’t apply to the real world. You’ll have to unlearn some things.

A long commute will ruin your life. There are only so many good podcasts that can support your sanity through rush hour.

A strict office dress code is your first sign that things are about to suck.

People get accustomed to their income, but the misery of an awful workplace and long hours are enduring.

Don’t suck up to your boss. They can smell your insincerity from a mile away. Impress them with good work.

Realize that a pound of emotional intelligence is worth a ton of book intelligence.

Say “I don’t know” when you don’t know.

Live in a big city at least once, and not one you grew up in.

Realize that some things you’re certain are true are either wrong or incomplete.

Realize that your youth is the biggest investment asset you have. You probably have 40 years in front of you to invest. Warren Buffett couldn’t dream about that kind of advantage.

Change your mind when the facts change.

Avoid people who don’t.

You’re under no obligation to have an opinion about anything.

You have a strict obligation to not have an opinion about things you don’t understand.

Get over the idea that because you’re done with college, you’re done learning. You’ve barely begun.

Make a budget. Stick to it.

Don’t complain about your student loans. You took them out. Nothing you can do about it now. Figure out the most practical way to pay them off as soon as possible.

Learn Excel. I don’t know why more schools don’t emphasize this. You’ll use it in most jobs, and it will make your life easier.

Read books. I love Twitter as much as anyone, but some topics take length to explain.

Don’t argue politics. With anyone. It’s a waste of energy. The odds that you’ll change someone else’s mind are the same that they will change yours.

Realize that rational people can disagree.

Don’t make big decisions when you’re emotional. The odds that you’ll regret them approach 100%.

Realize that everyone’s point of view is a product of the people they’ve met and the experiences they’ve had in life, most of which are outside of their control. This includes yourself.

Good luck.

For more:

TIME Careers & Workplace

8 Life-Changing Lessons on How to Be Happy

woman-holding-smile
Getty Images

Start by smiling

Inc. logo

What makes us happy? Thirteen happiness experts, including psychologists, researchers, monks, and the inimitable Malcolm Gladwell, try to shed light on this surprisingly difficult question in a series of TED Talks about happiness.

Over and over, the same two themes emerge. First, we’re usually wrong about what will make us happy—or unhappy, for that matter. For example, research has demonstrated that people who win the lottery are no happier about that event one year later than if they’d lost the use of their legs instead. And second, happiness is largely a matter of choice. Which is good news, because it means we can pretty much all be happier if we want to be.

How can we make this happen? Here’s some of what the TED speakers advise:

1. Don’t expect happiness to be one-size-fits-all.

In a fascinating bit of product history, Gladwell recounts how the food industry discovered to its astonishment that some people like chunky tomato sauce. And what that discovery means in a broader context–that what makes me happy won’t necessarily do it for you, and vice versa.

2. Stop chasing things like success, fame, and money.

Or at least, keep chasing them but don’t expect them to make you substantially happier than you are right now. As psychologist Dan Gilbert explains, our brains have a defense mechanism that’s hard-wired to make us happy with the lives we have, whatever those may be. Even Pete Best, a drummer best known for getting fired by the Beatles just before they hit it big, now says he wouldn’t want it any other way.

3. Keep challenging yourself.

If you love your work, you’re good at it, and you’ve been doing it for a while, you probably have experienced “flow,” that state where you get so lost in what you’re doing that you forget yourself and everything else. That state of flow is where true happiness lies, says psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and we can also find it when doing something creative, or even something recreational. But only so long as we keep challenging ourselves. Boredom is the opposite of flow.

4. Be generous.

Connecting with other people and feeling part of something larger than ourselves takes us a long way toward happiness. Social scientist Michael Norton recounts a fascinating experiment that proves–contrary to popular belief–that money can buy happiness, so long as you spend it on someone other than yourself. Not only will you have made someone else happy, you’ll have made yourself happy too, a happiness buy-one-get-one-free special.

5. Be grateful.

We tend to expect that being happy will make us feel grateful, but actually it’s the other way around, explains Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast–being grateful is what will make us feel happy. And gratitude is a choice, he says. How can we remember to be grateful? By reminding ourselves of all the gifts in our lives. Even something so simple as a water faucet was a true occasion for gratitude for Steindl-Rast after a stint in Africa where drinking water was scarce. When in time it started to seem ordinary again, he put a sticker on the faucet to remind himself what a wonderful thing it was.

6. Train your mind.

The way to do this is by meditating on compassion, says Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard. It takes time, he says, but it’s worth doing. Brain scans show that monks who are practiced at such meditation show happiness activity in their brains that is “off the charts” compared with everyone else.

Though he doesn’t mention it, Ricard himself is the poster child for this approach. According to Google’s happiness guru Chade-Meng Tan, Ricard’s own brain scans show him to be the happiest person on the planet.

7. Smile!

It sounds too simple to be true, but research actually shows that if you smile, you’ll have better health, a better marriage and other relationships, and increased life expectancy, says HealthTap founder Ron Gutman. So if you haven’t smiled yet today, what are you waiting for?

8. Tell the truth.

In a highly personal talk, The Vagina Monologues creator Eve Ensler recounts the epidemic of worldwide violence against women she learned about as a result of her hit show. For a while, these stories threatened to overwhelm her. But then she found herself at the head of a movement to end that violence and give young girls in Africa a refuge from violence she herself had lacked as a child.

And then she says, she learned, “this really simple thing, which is that happiness exists in action; it exists in telling the truth…and giving away what you want the most.” That’s the kind of happiness all of us can reach for.

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article above was originally published at Inc.com.

TIME Family

14 Mother’s Day Cards That Perfectly Sum Up Your Feelings

Show your love for that extraordinary woman in your life

  • For the Teacher

    fillinblank-card
    vineandthistle—etsy.com

    If you can’t find a card with the right sentiment, personalize this floral watercolor greeting by just filling in the blank. (Think of it as a maternal Mad Lib!) Hand-lettered and printed on white cardstock by Vine & Thistle, it’s a great way to thank your mom for being a teacher—in addition to chief cook, bottle-washer, and…fill in the blank!

    To buy: $4.50, etsy.com.

  • For the Right Choice

    stuck-best-card
    RowHouse14—etsy.com

    No, you don’t get to choose your parents, but this bold, simple statement will let Mom know that she was—and always will be—the right choice. The handmade, hefty white-linen card (from Row House 14, a small company specializing in bespoke cards and stationery) is blank inside and comes with a cheery yellow envelope.

    To buy: $4.50, etsy.com.

  • For the Whole Mom

    become-half-card
    RedLetterPaperCo—etsy.com

    Give mom the ultimate compliment: You want to be just like her—but probably won’t achieve that lofty goal. On the inside, the card reads “that would mean a whole lot.” And you have the option of adding this quote from Philippians 1:3 on the back: “I thank my God every time I remember you.” Made with recycled paper, the card is printed on heavy stock.

    To buy: $4, etsy.com.

  • For the Surrogate Mom

    stepmom-card
    Emily McDowell

    Perfect for a variety of influential women (a stepmom, mentor, aunt, and more) this card will let that special lady in your life know what a, well, maternal influence she’s had—and that we sometimes find honorary parents even outside the biological family. The colorful card is paired with a tan paper envelope.

    To buy: $4.50, emilymcdowell.com.

    For 25 percent off purchases of $10 or more, use coupon code REALSIMPLELOVE (valid through April 17).

  • For a Job Well-Done

    great-awesome-card
    CATCH22CARDS—etsy.com

    Celebrate Mom by complimenting her parenting skills (and give yourself a little pat on the back in the process) with this bold, tongue-in-cheek card. The simple message on the inside reads “Happy Mother’s Day,” and the card is paired with your choice of envelope. (We like the bright blue shown here.)

    To buy: $5, etsy.com.

  • From the Former Adolescent

    awkward-card_0
    DebbieDrawsFunny—etsy.com

    Sure, you remember those painful middle-school years—and probably wish you could have skipped right over them. But poke fun at your past on mom’s behalf with this throwback to the days of braces, big glasses, and frizzy hair. After all, Mom thought you were a swan even in your ugly-duckling days.

    To buy: $4, etsy.com.

  • From the Favorite Child

    favorite-child-card
    PinwheelPrintShop—etsy.com

    When it comes to her children, Mom’s not supposed to play favorites, of course, but you can still pretend you’re Number One (think Marcia, not Jan!) with this whimsically entitled sentiment. Printed on recycled paper, the card is hand-drawn and blank inside, so you can consider using it to apologize to your siblings!

    To buy: $4, etsy.com.

  • For the Mother-in-Law

    stuck-inlaw-card
    StudioFusco—etsy.com

    Mother-in-Laws have been the butt of more punch lines than Rodney Dangerfield or Henny Youngman could count. But let your partner’s mom in on the joke—and show her some love in the process—with this snarky and sweet card. She’ll appreciate you thought of her, too—all kidding aside.

    To buy: $3.50, etsy.com.

  • For the Best Mom Ever

    bestmomever-card
    RowHouse14—etsy.com

    For the daughter who doesn’t mince words, this bright card gives Mom the ultimate compliment—and in no uncertain terms. It’s perfect if you like to get right to the point, but the card’s inside is blank in case the cover’s sentiment is not, in fact, the end of the story. (Additional periods optional!)

    To buy: $4.50, etsy.com.

  • For the Best Friend and Therapist

    venn-card
    CypressDesignCo—etsy.com
  • For the Gilmore Girl

    lorelai-rory-card
    ShopMadz—etsy.com

    Best friends first, mother and daughter second? If the Gilmore Girls’ chatty, companionable mother-and-daughter dynamic reflects your rapid-fire relationship with your own mom, this greeting card is just right. Consider giving it to her at the local diner you both love—and maybe add a few “Gilmoreisms” on the note inside.

    To buy: $3.50, etsy.com.

  • For the Heart’s Home

    home-mom-card
    StrangerDays—etsy.com

    Whether you and your mom have a long-distance relationship or are practically neighbors, this card will show her that, zip codes and geography aside, your heart is always with her. Made by Stranger Days, a company that specializes in “greeting cards for emotional people,” the card comes with a matching envelope and is blank inside. It’s also suitable for framing.

    To buy: $4, etsy.com.

  • For the Chef

    when-dinner-card
    RowHouse14—etsy.com

    This card is both hilarious and, well, accurate. Though it may hit a bit too close to home (literally), it’ll make mom feel like she’s both needed and appreciated. If you really can’t cook, consider treating her to dinner on her special day—even if it’s just her favorite takeout. (As long as you clean up!)

    To buy: $4.50, etsy.com.

  • For the New Mom

    spit-up-card
    JulieAnnArt—etsy.com

    Give your favorite baby-beleaguered new mom a much-needed laugh (and maybe even a confidence boost) with this irreverent (and, uh, graphic) handmade card. She’ll love knowing that—even sleep-deprived, and covered in infant upchuck—she still looks great. This card comes with a tan paper envelope (but no bib, alas).

    To buy: $4.50, etsy.com.

    This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME advice

5 Essential Spring Cleaning Chores

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Getty Images

Here are the top tasks to tackle

Ah, spring cleaning. All the tasks you pushed aside earlier in the year now await you — a seemingly never-ending list of chores.

However, not everyone has the time or energy to scrub their house from top to bottom. For those who need to abbreviate this seasonal ritual, housecleaners say the following areas are the most essential:

Baseboards

“I think the thing people have the hardest time keeping up with is the baseboards,” says John Crum, owner of Crum Cleaning in Kansas City, Missouri.

To clean your baseboards, first vacuum or sweep the area. Then, take a cloth or sponge and a cleaning solution — a combination of soap and water, vinegar or a wood cleaner — and wipe down the baseboards.

High dusting

According to Crum, homeowners often forget to dust ceiling lights and fans because they’re out of reach. Others may choose not to clean them because the job sometimes requires a ladder.

Maria Keashon, owner of Arbor Cleaning Services in Feasterville, Pennsylvania, adds that homeowners forget to clean off the top of their kitchen cabinets.

“With kitchen cabinets, you normally see people put plants and decorations up there,” she says. “They never even think of going up there [to clean].”

Keashon says her company always cleans cabinet tops when completing a spring cleaning, as dust accumulates quickly.

Those who don’t want to climb atop a ladder can purchase a longer dusting wand made specifically for high fixtures and ceilings.

Walls

Crum says walls are another neglected space when it comes to cleaning house.

However, homeowners face more challenges when washing walls because the proper method can vary based on if walls are painted and the paint type used.

If you don’t know what type of paint adorns your walls, you’re best off using dish soap and water to softly wipe them down. This also works for walls that aren’t painted, such as those covered in wallpaper. Don’t scrub too hard or the paint may fade.

Behind appliances

According to Crum, many people neglect the harder-to-reach areas, such as behind the refrigerator, oven, washer and dryer, because they take more time to clean. But once a year, you should take the extra time to move your appliances and clean behind and underneath them, as dirt, crumbs and dust accumulate in these places.

If you own a cat, it’s possible you may find bread clips, hair ties, or other items that had been batted under your appliances as well.

Inside the cabinets

Keashon says that most people assume the inside of their cabinets remain perfectly clean because they’re only opened to remove or put away dishes. However, these areas collect grime over time.

She recommends removing all dishes and wiping down the cabinets once a year.

This article originally appeared on Angie’s List.

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TIME Food & Drink

How to Make Light Vinaigrette for Your Salad

This vinaigrette can also work well with fish or chicken

Backing off on the oil not only helps control calories, it takes some of the oily “weight” off tender salad greens. Once you get the gist of this recipe for Mad Delicious Vinaigrette, featuring my secret ingredient called Mad X, you can modify and iterate like mad. Don’t just use this on salads, though. This vinaigrette can be warmed lightly and served with fish or over grilled chicken. Wherever you need a sauce on the fly, reach for this method.

For more cooking tips and kitchen science secrets, check out MAD DELICIOUS: The Science of Making Healthy Food Taste Amazing!

This article originally appeared on Cooking Light.

TIME advice

How to Get Your Kitchen Ready for Cooking

kitchen-table-ingredients
Getty Images

A step-by-step guide for building a proper mise en place

Professional cooks learn the concept of mise en place before they’re allowed to crack open their knife kits. As culinary freshmen, they stand at attention while a seasoned chef shares the simple, foundational law of the kitchen. Proper mise en place is a smart rule to follow in the home kitchen, too. If honored, it will lead to ballet-like culinary performances. At its heart it’s about ritualized organization. It’s as much a mindset as it is a series of activities. If ritual is ignored in a kitchen, chaos ensues. If, as an aspiring top-shelf home cook, you ignore the rituals, dinner won’t be done on time, cleanup will take forever, and you’ll likely not enjoy cooking.

Yes, cooking involves applying heat to foods to make them edible, but it’s an act of service to others, too. It is a dance. Enjoy the process. Shop reverently. Unpack deliberately. Activate soundtrack. Strategically position your cookbook. Read the whole recipe. Gather tools. Prep your ingredients. Clean as you go. Follow directions carefully. Enjoy your meal.

Welcome to the Ritual

A good home cook is part ballet dancer, part chemist, part juggler, part anthropologist, part laborer, and part project manager. The best inherently understands the following five principles and embraces them in their kitchens and their souls.

  1. Planning is the most important step. The best intentions for cooking a meal can be derailed by gradually realizing you don’t have 25 percent of the ingredients suggested in a recipe. And even with competent improvising, some dishes require specific ingredients to be true to themselves. So, before you start, take the time to inventory your pantry, make a quick and easy shopping list, and be sure you have the right equipment for the job. When you have everything you need to produce a dish, cooking can be downright euphoric.
  2. Cook to suit your mood. Tackle recipes with a degree of difficulty that matches your emotional tolerance level for the day—and your ability to focus at the stove. Have plans A and B in mind, with A being the “I’m ready to cook anything” mood, and B being the “I’ve got to get dinner on the table” mood. Make cooking easy for yourself. In professional kitchens, we speak of cross-utilization of ingredients. That means you keep a number of ingredients or preparations on hand that can be used in an array of recipes. It streamlines meal prep.
  3. Flow matters. For great, stress-free meals to come together, an organized work space is key. Utensils and ingredients should have a designated space in the kitchen. Frequently used items should be within arm’s reach. It’s okay to store whisks and spoons and salt on your countertop. Writers keep pens on their desks, artists keep paintbrushes at the ready, so it makes sense for cooks to keep the tools of their craft out within easy reach. Cooking requires you to move easily from ingredient to utensil to pan to stove to oven to sink to trash can. Remove unnecessary clutter, keep yourself organized, and build in flow.
  4. Multitasking is a myth. Repeat after me: “It is very tricky to do more than one thing at a time.” Our brains are not multiprocessors. We do things more competently when we handle one specific task at a time. You’ll find that the recipes in this book are crafted differently than in most cookbooks. First, I explain the “why” of every ingredient decision, so that you don’t have to wonder. Second, the tasks are segmented into single strokes, so that you don’t lose your place while cooking and so that you’re reminded to grab this, that, or the other well in advance of needing it. Make a game plan for meal prep connected to the clock. It’ll help. You will feel like a pro in short order. You’re not doing “a thousand things at once.” You’re cooking, one step at a time. Commandingly.
  5. Cooking is not a chore. Cooking well requires both engagement and enjoyment. This is not your job. It’s your chosen hobby, craft, or diversion. Grab your favorite apron, choose a playlist based on your mood du moment, pour yourself a beverage, and get your mind on the mise en place.

This article originally appeared on Cooking Light.

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