Dear Martha: How do the grades of olive oil differ, and which kind should I use for everyday cooking?

A: Extra-virgin olive oil, made from the first pressing of olives after harvest, has a bright, fruity taste. Neither heat nor chemicals are used to extract the oil (hence the labels "cold pressed" or "cold extraction"), so it is the freshest and the most healthful olive oil. Virgin olive oil is also extracted without heat or chemicals but is more acidic than extra-virgin and may not be from the first pressing. Bottles labeled "olive oil" or "pure olive oil" typically contain blends from second or third pressings, with virgin or extra-virgin oil added for flavor.

In the past, the price of extra-virgin olive oil limited its use, but affordable bottles are now widely available and are even preferred. Ideally, you should keep two kinds of extra-virgin oil on hand: an inexpensive one for cooking and a premium one for dishes that will showcase its nuanced flavor and aroma. Both characteristics diminish when an oil is heated, so use the everyday one when sauteing, grilling, making sauces or baking. Serve your best oil drizzled over roasted vegetables, whisked into a vinaigrette, tossed with pasta, or simply on its own with a loaf of crusty bread.

Oils can turn rancid with exposure to heat or light, or simply with age. To prevent this, store olive oils in a cool, dark place; they will keep for about a year.

Dear Martha: With all of today's technology, what is the trick to staying focused?

A: We're overcommitted to media, handheld devices and computers, and sometimes we have to take a break. The best thing to do is to devote a time of day to managing that communication.

My work and home computers, BlackBerry and iPhone get the same e-mail, so I'm pretty connected. I look at the computer when I get up in the morning and answer any e-mails that came in during the night. The next time I look is when I'm in the car on the way to work. But don't do that if you're driving!

I also keep a notebook where I jot down notes and minutes from the day's meetings. (If I write on a stray piece of paper, it may go astray.)

Staying organized is important, but there's an etiquette, too. You shouldn't check your e-mail at lunch with friends.

Dear Martha: How did flower frogs earn their rather peculiar name?

A: Tracing the origin of the term is difficult. One theory is that the small implements, designed to anchor flower stems inside vases, owe their name to their amphibious nature. Just like their counterparts in the animal world, the arrangement aids spend part of their time sitting in water and the rest in the open air.

The Oxford English Dictionary includes an 1876 mention of a hollowed brick, possibly a flower brick, "absurdly called a frog." Bonnie Bull, author of "Flower Frogs for Collectors" (Schiffer; 2001), instead points to patents from the 1940s as the earliest records of the moniker, including one from 1941 entitled "Frog or Flower Holder for Bowls" and another from 1947 describing "adjustable holders for cut flowers of the type commonly known as frogs."

Over time, this slang term became the standard name. And as a flower frog can take countless forms — wire cages; indented glass rounds; flat, spiky circles — you may come across one in the shape of its namesake, a flower frog in the truest sense.

Dear Martha: I am throwing a baby shower, but only a quarter of the invitees can attend. How can I still make it special?

A: Since you're having fewer people, you can serve fancier food. Tell everyone not to eat before they come because you're going to have a really pretty luncheon. Set a beautiful table, and tell all kinds of great stories. It will be very sweet.

Questions should be addressed to Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living; 601 West 26th Street, 9th floor; New York, N.Y. 10001. Questions may also be sent by e-mail to: mslletters@marthastewart.com. Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number. Questions of general interest will be answered in this column; Martha Stewart regrets that unpublished letters cannot be answered individually. For more information on the topics covered in the Ask Martha column, visit www.marthastewart.com.

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