Snippets Issue 14 : The Spring Cleaning Issue

Brini Maxwell

Create domestic bliss, spring clean, get stylish, and cook up a treat with the gracious, Brini Maxwell.

Brini Maxwell

Brini Maxwell is a cult television icon, famed for her 1960's housewife style and gracious manner. With a passion for home decor, entertaining and crafting, we caught up with Brini to learn more about creating domestic bliss.

Fashion & Style

"False eyelashes can add such glamour to your look... why not make them part of your everyday wardrobe?"

"I've always had a love for glamour and good personal style. I've found inspiration in many different people, Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy. It's important to always look at each particular style opportunity (what to wear to an event, how to dress your home for a party) individually. Combine different pieces of your wardrobe in new and unexpected ways, rearrange your furniture, just to see how it would look. If you continue to question it you can't go wrong", reveals Brini, on keeping her look fresh. "I make some of my clothing, and buy the rest from thrift shops and vintage stores. I think wearing vintage is a great way to avoid the cookie cutter quality of fashion nowadays. The 50's was a time of gracious excess in dress. You can't go wrong with a glamorous crinoline, under yards and yards of delicate print organdy. What will make it especially elegant is if that organdy is cut as a simple shirtwaist on top. The combination of casual construction and elegant fabrication is the essence of the 50's."

Spring Cleaning

"There's the old rule - if you haven't used it in a year it's time to chuck it. I hold with that in theory, but in practice sometimes it's difficult to stick to. No need to be dogmatic about it. Sentimentality counts for something! I have a few tips for spring cleaning - I think of the room as a big clock and start at midnight and work my way around to noon. I take the clutter out of its comfort zone and put it in the middle of the room so I can evaluate where it should be put, then put it away. If it doesn't have a home I make one for it. The rest is all just elbow grease and determination." As a crafter, we were keen to find out how she organizes her craft supplies. "Like items should be grouped together and packaged in transparent plastic containers so you know what you have. All craft items should be kept in the same place in the room. Keep everything together and your crafting will go much more smoothly!" Brini then considers traditions which help her work. "50's production music - the kind used in commercials and as background music in television shows - I think they call it library music in the UK - is perfect for getting me in the mood."

flower"How dull is the task of cleaning your toilet? You can keep all that's vitreous virtuous by dropping a fizzy denture tablet in the bowl. Don't scrub - effervesce your way to sparkling porcelain! "


"I have one friend who has absolutly no idea how to graciously feed guests. He either orders in and presents it in the take out containers or his boyfriend cooks frozen chicken breasts on the grill. It's not a pleasant experience dining with them. My experiences dining with them have just reenforced my resolve to create gracious meals and enjoyable culinary experiences for my guests." Considering her ideal meal, she continues, "I'm especially fond of fondue. As for a drink, I like the summer breeze - coconut rum and grapefruit juice with a dash of lemon lime soda. Garnish with a bamboo skewer on which you've mounted a slice of star fruit and a maraschino cherry and you've got a classic."

Fondue Recipe


Fondue - easy and delicious - is one of my favorite dishes. It's also perfect for a day spent at home because it's fun and simple to make.

For chocolate fondue you'll need:
  • 8 oz of the chocolate of your choice (I like Toblerone, the original chocolate fondue chocolate)
  • ½ cup of milk

The best plan is to start with the chocolate in a double boiler with water boiling underneath. This will insure that the chocolate doesn't burn. Once the chocolate is melted add your milk and transfer to your fondue pot.

Serve with:
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Banana
  • Other fruits
  • Sponge cake
  • Doughnut holes
  • Pretzels
  • Shredded wheat
  • Chunks of coconut.

For caramel fondue you'll need:
  • 14oz milk caramels
  • ½ cup whole milk or cream

Put the caramels in your fondue pot (it's less likely that the caramels will burn, unlike the chocolate) then melt them down with the milk or cream. Serve this fondue with apples for a wonderful fall treat!

Party Hosting

"I do throw some nice parties, but my apartment is small, so it can be difficult to have larger parties. Guests always seem to have a good time when I entertain. I was lucky enough to grow up in a home where gracious entertaining was a tradition. My mother still entertains graciously." Considering how she would deal with a less than gracious guest, she explains, "I've been lucky. Most of my parties have been uneventful that way. I'd say just treat everyone with respect and tact and you can get through any situation. The most important tip I can give you with regards to hostessing a party is relax and have a good time. If you're relaxed, the guests will be too. To that end, remember prior planning prevents poor performance - choose a menu that can be largely prepared in advance to get you out of the kitchen and enlist your guests to help out." Brini then considers her tips for dealing with awkward silences, "When this situation is encountered at a party your hosting, it's your job as hostess to find common ground for your guests. When you introduce them you can point out similarities and common experiences that will break the ice. When meeting someone yourself for the first time, an easy relaxed demeaonr is the perfect companion. Just be yourself and be open to the person you're meeting and common ground will present itself."

flower"Wearing high heels improves balance and strengthens muscles not otherwise used as much. Why not multitask and wear your Manolos when you waltz around with the vacuum? Be careful, though. Wearing heels too often can shorten your Achilles tendon, so I suggest dusting in flats."

Looking to the year ahead, Brini wishes for "a return to television. I love the medium and enjoy the reach it has. Also, our product line is expanding and I'm learning how to be a good business person. It's a challenge, but with some perseverance and luck I think we'll make it!"

For more tips and tricks on gracious living, or to find out more about Brini Maxwell, visit her website at (Tips from Brini Maxwell's Guide to Gracious Style.)


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