Domestic Insight: Eggcups

When my brother and I would stay with my grandparents as children, we always looked forward to the breakfasts my grandmother would make for us. Often, that breakfast included soft-boiled eggs served in pretty eggcups with a little plate of ''toast fingers'' for dipping. I now have two of those eggcups in my kitchen cupboard and each time I look at them I remember those sunny mornings at my grandmother's dining room table. They are shown in the photo below.
They were made in the 1950s in England by Wood & Sons in the Clovelly pattern. My mother and my aunt also used these as children and they are very special to me.
Indeed, the collecting of eggcups is so popular today that it has been given its own name: pocillovy, which comes from the Latin pocillum ovi, meaning "a small cup for an egg." Eggcups have existed for centuries. The earliest known examples were unearthed at Pompeii but no individual has been credited with its invention. Their inception was no doubt due to the very difficult task of eating hot eggs cooked in their shells; they are unwieldy on plates and impossible to hold with bare hands. The design of the eggcup is brilliant in its simplicity and functionality, holding a cooked egg firmly upright. With the top of the egg shell removed, the egg can be scooped out with a small spoon and enjoyed at one's leisure.
Nearly every maker of dinnerware has designed a selection of eggcups. Wedgwood, Spode, Royal Doulton, Limoge, Fire King Jadeite, Catherineholm all produced (and still produce) eggcups. The materials used to make eggcups are just as varied as their makers: ceramic, porcelain, wood, plastic, glass and even silver. There are majolica eggcups, Fiestaware eggcups and ebony eggcups. Plenty for the pocillovist to choose from!
There are two basic kinds of eggcups: the single cup and the double cup. The single cup rests upon a decorative pedestal while the double cup can be inverted to offer two different cup sizes, either to accommodate a larger egg type, such as goose or duck, or to act as a serving dish for eggs that have been scooped out of their shells.
That the eggcup has been such a constant in the kitchens of families all over the world for centuries is not surprising. Their beautiful design and purpose ensures the eggcup will be around for a very long time to come. As long as there are eggs, there will be eggcups!
Click here to watch Martha discuss the history of eggcups.
Click here for a very comprehensive collection of links about eggcups and eggcup collecting.
Eggcups are not reserved for eggs only. They can serve many purposes, including acting as tiny vases. Spring flowers in pretty nosegays look lovely arranged in a collection of eggcups shown here. You could also use them to display spring bulbs or store small objects, such as safety pins, stamps or small pieces of jewelry, as shown below. (Photo Martha Stewart Living)
(Left photo by Skona Hem; Right photo by Midwest Living)
Three ironstone double eggcups date to the 1930s and '40s, shown top right. A novelty cup in treen (turned wood) is decorated with a cute painted face and holds a matching egg with a painted-on Orphan Annie hairdo. The single cup holding the blue egg has a plate attached and the one behind it is made of plastic and chrome with a removable lid. Silver luster stripes enhance a streamlined Art Moderne ceramic cup from the 1930s. (Photo Martha Stewart Living)
These beautiful Scandinavian, French and American examples of eggcups are extremely alluring with their darker tones. (The ivory-coloured eggcup shown at far left is actually made of white chocolate, formed in a rare eggcup chocolate mold.) The materials here include ceramic, porcelain, ebony and black glass. (Photo Martha Stewart Living)
In this photo a multitude of eggcup designs is shown, among them a milk-glass cup in the shape of a chick and a chick's head from the 1960s. The eggcup with the green stripe at the top is Japanese lusterware from the 1930s. The double-cup, far left, is by Wedgwood and top right is a cook-and-serve wire eggcup, also from the 1930s. My favourite is the eggcup with the two chatty peeps, made for the Fanny Farmer candy company. (Photo Martha Stewart Living)
During Victorian times, silver eggcups were extremely popular and were often given to children as Easter gifts or at Christenings. They are not very common today since the silver reacts to the sulphur of the egg, resulting in tarnish. Since silver is also a heat conductor, hot eggs would heat the eggcup, making it difficult to handle. In this photo, however, chocolate eggs do very nicely in silver!


My Spring Cleaning Checklist

Unbeknownst to my husband, the weekend of April 26th will be one filled with dusting, sweeping, scrubbing, sorting, polishing and all-round cleaning. He will find out, of course, once I print out the room-by-room Spring Cleaning checklist you see below. The list is specific to our needs and because we live in an apartment with only a few rooms we dodge some pretty scary bullet-points: organizing the garage, for instance, or cleaning the basement.
In the spirit of Martha's wisdom, I consider cleaning house to be rather good for the soul and do not consider it drudgery. Tomas, my husband, has a more difficult time with this philosophy. Spring cleaning is a foreign concept to him (literally) since in Puerto Rico, where he grew up, there really is no such thing as spring cleaning. The tropical climate lessened the need to purge or sort or tidy on a seasonal basis. To help make the process more fun, I designed the checklist below to be pretty and inviting. I will print it on nice paper and have it magnetized to our refrigerator door. It will help us tackle our plan of action and compile any cleaning supplies we may need ahead of time. We will divide the chores between two days (two very full days!) and will feel so much better knowing that we've been thorough in our approach. We'll put on some good music (Tomas will come up with a great playlist, I'm sure) and get down to business! What does your spring cleaning routine look like?


The May Issue

Like a blast of sunshine, a blaze of petaled glory, the May issue of Martha Stewart Living is making its way to the mailboxes of subscribers. The cover is so exuberant and bright that it's impossible not to feel instantly cheery when you look at it. I have not received the issue yet, myself, but I'm anxious to browse its pages. It will be on newsstands April 21.


Book of the Month: Gypsy ~ A World of Colour & Interiors

After spending nearly ten years working as an interior designer and stylist in New York City for clients such as Donna Karan, Vogue Living, Bloomingdales and Bergdorf Goodman, Sibella Court is heading home to Sydney, Australia, where she is opening her first shop, called The Society Inc. The young designer took the world of American interiors by storm by introducing a new and refreshing approach to living: filling a space with the objects you love. Now there's a novel idea! To call Sibella's style ''shabby chic'' or ''boho'' would be to minimize its depth. The rooms she creates are moody and atmospheric with layer upon layer of personal, treasured finds: a minimalist's nightmare and a collector's dream.
The designer-turned-bestselling-author has just released her latest tome, and it is my selection as the Book of the Month - a new feature on Martha Moments I hope to continue. It is called Gypsy: A World of Colour and Interiors and I think it is her best book to date. What makes it special is its global review of style, interpreted by one individual and then translated into beautiful rooms that we can all take lessons from. The book is filled with gorgeous photography and Sibella's own scrapbook of her travels to Scotland, Transylvania, Ecuador and Indonesia. She gives us insight into the people she meets, the food she tastes and all the beautiful objects she collects along the way. The rooms are utterly romantic and unique. Below are some images from the book and I highly suggest you at least browse its pages. Hopefully you will discover a new concept of home, as I did.

Sibella Court has authored several books and each one is a treasure. Bowerbird is a collector's bible. I am not talking about collecting Wedgwood or majolica, mind you. This book will appeal to the individual who collects rocks, feathers, pressed flowers and scraps of textile. The Stylist's Guide to NYC is an essential book for anyone who adores New York and wants to discover some of its hidden retail gems. Sibella breaks the code of silence and shares all the stores that New York's top stylists love to visit. Nomad is for the traveler who fills the empty spaces in her suitcases with found seashells and flea-market finds from far-off places. Etcetera was Sibella's first book and is a fine introduction to her eclectic style with beautiful photographs and notes on surrendering to the idea of living with the things you love.


New "Real Weddings" Special Issue

There is a new special issue of Martha Stewart Weddings on the newsstands today, filled with beautiful, practical wedding ideas and advice you won't find anywhere else. The best thing about Real Weddings (an ongoing special-issue theme for the magazine) is that it highlights numerous details from actual weddings, which makes the publication very accessible and very useful for the bride-to-be. There are 11 'real' weddings featured in this issue, from San Francisco to Colorado Springs, plus several more 'stylized' features: there are sections devoted to gorgeous gowns, flowers, cakes and those personal touches that make a celebration memorable. The casual observer may not notice Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence on the cover but there she is: tall blonde, far right. She was a bridesmaid at her brother's wedding in Kentucky last October.


Great Egg-spectations

Martha’s hosting an Easter contest called Martha's Good Eggs (no bad eggs allowed) and she wants you to enter! She's looking to find the best decorated Easter eggs in the U.S. -- and she has crafty prizes for the ones that really wow her! Do you have what it takes to impress the Queen of Crafts? Whether you create a gorgeous decal egg, a decoupaged masterpiece, a FabergĂ©-inspired stunner, or a glittered egg that shimmers and shines, the editors at Martha Stewart Living want to see you break out of your shell this Easter and craft something egg-straordinary! Martha Stewart Living will be accepting photograph submissions of your best-decorated Easter eggs from April 4th to April 10th. Once the editors select their 50 favorites, they’ll open it up to you for voting, and they’ll announce the grand prize winner on April 17th. The top 50 picks will be featured on MarthaStewart.com to inspire crafters everywhere! Click here for the contest rules and regulations. Click here for a look at some of my favourite Martha Stewart egg crafts from issues past.


Season Three of Martha Bakes, Premiers April 5th!

Well, the long-awaited third season of Martha Bakes will finally be airing starting this coming Saturday, April 5th. Ball, King Arthur Flour and Nordic Ware will serve as the season's sponsors. The third season follows a strong second season that averaged more than 900,000 weekly viewers throughout its initial run and was seen in more than 96% of U.S. households, with ratings about ten percent higher than its first season. In each of the thirteen, 30-minute episodes of the third season of Martha Bakes, produced by MSLO, Martha will demonstrate more classic baking techniques and basics using her signature step-by-step, how-to teaching process. Episodes will include everything from puddings, French favorites and Bundt cakes, in addition to holiday breads, bar cookies and crackers and flatbreads.
"The success of Martha Bakes and Martha Stewart's Cooking School strengthens the fact that there is indeed a rise in popularity of home baking and cooking, and that is gratifying to see," Martha says. "I'm very happy that we are able to contribute so much excellent food content to such enthusiastic audiences..." Be sure to check your local PBS listings to find out when Martha Bakes airs in your area and click here to visit the program's official site. The program will air each Saturday for thirteen weeks and below is a list of the episodes in order:

Episode One: Traditional Fruit Desserts
Episode Two: The Breakfast Episode
Episode Three: Bar Cookies
Episode Four: Puddings
Episode Five: French Classics
Episode Six: Pies
Episode Seven: Crackers and Flatbreads
Episode Eight: Cupcakes
Episode Nine: Holiday Breads
Episode Ten: Baking With Chocolate
Episode Eleven: Bundt Cakes
Episode Twelve: Cookies
Episode Thirteen: Muffins