How to Build a Memory Palace

One of the most useful memory aids was created thousands of years ago by the ancient Greeks. And the memory palace, a place in your mind where you can store information that you need to remember, is still relevant today. It’s used not only by world record-holding memory champions but also by famous detective Sherlock Holmes. With a little planning and practice, you can build a memory palace, too.

EditPlanning Your Palace
Choose a place you can easily visualize as the blueprint for your palace. A memory palace must be a place or route that you are incredibly familiar with, like your childhood home or even your daily commute to work. It can be as small as your closet or as large as your entire neighborhood. The important thing is that you’re able to visualize the place in your head without actually seeing it in real life.[1]
Other options for memory palace locations include school, church, work, a vacation spot you visit frequently, or a friend’s house.

The larger or more detailed the real place is, the more information you can store in the corresponding mental space.

Walk through your palace to define a route. Decide how you’ll travel through the palace in your mind rather than just picturing a fixed place. For example, instead of just imagining your house, imagine how you’d walk through it. Do you enter through the front door? What hallway do you walk down? What rooms do you go to? If you need to remember things in a certain order, follow a specific route through your palace, both in the real world and in your mind.[2]
Beginning to practice your route now will make it easier to memorize later on, too.

Identify specific locations in the palace to store your information. Think about exactly what you’re going to be putting in your memory palace, whether it’s a number, name, or important dates you need to remember for an exam. You’ll store each piece of data in a separate location so you need to identify as many locations as you have data. Each storage spot needs to be unique so that you don’t accidentally mistake one spot for another.[3]
If your palace itself is a route, like your drive to work, choose landmarks along the way. Some examples include your neighbor’s house, a traffic light, a statue, or a building.

If your palace is a structure, consider separating information in different rooms. Then, within each room, identify smaller locations like paintings, pieces of furniture, or decor.

Practice visualizing your finished palace by physically drawing it. On a piece of paper, sketch your memory palace or, if it’s a route, map it out. Mark the landmarks or storage locations you’ve chosen. Close your eyes and try visualizing the palace in your head. Then check your mental image against the drawing to make sure you have remembered every location and that you’ve put them in the correct order.[4]
Picture the landmarks in as much detail as possible. Make sure your mental image includes their colors, sizes, smells, and any other defining characteristics.

If your mental image doesn’t match your drawing, review the drawing a few more times and then try again. Repeat until you can visualize it perfectly.

Another option to practice visualizing your palace is to recite it to a friend. Walk them through the route verbally while they look at the map you drew to compare.

EditFilling Your Palace with Information
Place important information in small chunks around the palace. Put a manageable amount of information in each spot. Don’t put too much information in any one place or it will be overwhelming for your brain to try to remember it all. If certain things must be kept separate from others, put them in distinctly different places.
If necessary, place things along your route in the order in which you need to remember them.

If your palace is your house, and you are trying to remember a speech, you might place the first few sentences on your doormat and the next few in the keyhole of your door.

Put your best friend’s address in the mailbox outside or on an envelope on the kitchen table. Put their phone number on the couch where you always take their phone calls.

If you’re trying to remember U.S. presidents in order, make the washing machine George Washington. Walk further into the laundry room and find a pair of long johns, which represent John Adams.

Use simple images to symbolize complicated phrases or numbers. You don’t need to put a whole string of words or numbers in a given location to be able to remember it. All you need to store in each spot is something that will jog your memory and lead you to the actual idea you’re trying to remember.[5] For example, if you’re trying to remember a ship, picture an anchor on your couch. If the ship is the U.S.S. Wisconsin, picture the anchor made out of cheese.
Symbols are shorthand and more effective than picturing the actual thing you are trying to remember.

Don’t make your symbols too abstract. If they don’t have an obvious correlation to what you’re memorizing, it defeats the purpose. You won’t be able to make the connection between the symbol and the information.

Add people, emotional triggers, or bizarre images to remember data. The images you put in your palace should be as memorable as possible. Generally, images will be more memorable if they are out of the ordinary or attached to some strong emotion or personal experience.[6] You might picture your mom placing her Social Security number on the kitchen table or an adorable puppy eating from a bowl that has your vocabulary test words on it.
Another example uses the number 124, which isn’t memorable. But an image of a spear shaped like the number 1 going through a swan (which looks like the number 2) and splitting the swan into 4 pieces is. It’s disturbing, but that’s what makes it stick in your mind.

You don’t have to use only positive images. Negative emotions or images, like including a politician you hate, are just as strong.

Incorporate other mnemonics to recall longer strings of information. Create a simple mnemonic by forming an acronym using the first letters of the words in a phrase or make a little rhyme containing the information you’re trying to remember. Then insert these new shortened pieces of data into your memory palace instead of the longer piece.[7]
For instance, say you need to recall the order of notes on the lines of the treble clef (EGBDF). Imagine a little boy eating a piece of chocolate fudge, which would evoke the first-letter mnemonic “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.”

A rhyming mnemonic is, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Envision Columbus holding a blue sailboat toy in your living room.

EditUsing Memory Palaces
Spend at least 15 minutes exploring your palace every day. The more you walk through and spend time in your palace, the more easily you will recall its contents on demand. You want the visualization to feel effortless and natural. Try to walk through the entire route a couple of times or block out a chunk of time each day to visualize the palace from start to finish.[8]
For example, see James Joyce sitting on your toilet as if he belongs there and really is an integral part of your bathroom décor instead of an imagined image. This helps you remember that James Joyce was the author known for his toilet humor.

The best part is you can practice this anywhere, anytime. All you have to do is close your eyes.

Recall information by walking through your palace or looking around it. Once you have memorized the contents of your palace remember them simply by following the route or visualizing a room. With practice you will be able to start anywhere in your palace or along your route to recall a specific piece of information.[9]
If you need to remember that your girlfriend’s birthday is March 16, simply go into your bedroom and see the soldiers “marching” on the bed to the tune of the 80s cult classic “Sixteen Candles.”

Clean up your memory palace when you need to update data. A memory palace can be reused over and over again. Simply replace the existing contents with new information. After a few practice runs, you’ll soon forget the old data and only remember the new data in its place.[10]
If your palace is becoming too large or contains information you no longer need, remove that data from the route.

Build new palaces for different topics and information. If you have something new you’d like to commit to memory, but you don’t want to erase your current memory palace, simply build a new one. File the old palace away and start the process all over again, choosing a different place to use as your palace. Memory palaces will last as long as you want them to once they’re stored in your brain.[11]
For example, you might have your house store the names of all the U.S. presidents. Then, your walk to work contains the phone numbers of your friends and family. And your office itself has the contents of the speech you’re giving tomorrow.

There’s no limit to how many memory palaces you can build.

Be persistent. The memory palace is a very powerful tool, but isn’t necessarily easy to master.

There are books and memory-enhancement products available to help you learn how to build a memory palace. They can be costly, however, and not effective for everyone. Practice the steps above to save yourself some money.

At the World Memory Championship, top competitors memorize the order of 20 shuffled decks of cards in an hour and more than 500 random digits in 15 minutes, among other events. They don’t have “better memories” than the rest of us. Instead, they learn and perfect a variety of mnemonics (memory aids) to improve their ability to quickly learn and recall just about anything.

With computers, there are easy ways to build your own virtual palaces or simply choose from many of the other creations already online and take a virtual tour of them whenever you like. The impact is somewhat stronger than a drawing which makes the imprint into your mind quite effortless.

There are many variations of the memory palace, such as the Roman Room and the Journey. They are all based on the Method of Loci, which which says that people are very good at remembering locations, and if you can associate abstract or unfamiliar ideas with a well-known location, you can more easily recall the things you want to.

EditRelated wikiHows
Improve Your Memory

Remember Lists of Words With the Roman Room Trick

Memorize a List Using Numbers and Rhyming Words


Create Your Mind Palace

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Today in History for 10th January 2019

Historical Events

1731 – Charles Farnese becomes Duke of Parma and Piacenza
1799 – Friedrich von Schiller’s “Die Piccolomini” premieres in Weimar
1901 – Oil discovered at Spindletop, Beaumont, marking the start of the Texas oil boom (gusher age)
1927 – Fritz Lang’s silent film “Metropolis” premieres in Berlin
1993 – “My Favorite Year” closes at Vivian Beaumont NYC after 37 performances
2015 – Hopman Cup Tennis, Perth: Poland’s Agnieszka Radwańska and Jerzy Janowicz beat American pair Serena Williams and John Isner 7-5, 6-3 to clinch a 2-1 win; earlier Radwańska defeats Williams 6-4, 6-7, 6-1

More Historical Events »

Famous Birthdays

1683 – Gasparo Visconti, Italian composer and violinist, born in Cremona, Italy (d. ~1713)
1883 – Aleksei Tolstoi, Russian poet/writer (Pjotr Peroyj), born in Pugachyov, Russia (d. 1945)
1916 – Don Metz, Canadian ice hockey player, born in Wilcox, Canada (d. 2007)
1939 – David Horowitz, American author and political commentator, born in New York City, New York
1948 – Mischa Maisky, Latvian cellist, born in Riga, Latvia
1972 – Brian Lawler, American professional wrestler, born in Memphis, Tennessee (d. 2018)

More Famous Birthdays »

Famous Deaths

976 – John I Tzimisces/Tzimiskes, Byzantine Emperor (969-76), dies at 51
1276 – Pope Gregory X, (Tedaldo Visconti), dies. (bc. 1210)
1662 – Prince Honoré II of Monaco (b. 1597)
1982 – Lazar Weiner, Russian-born American composer, dies at 84
1990 – Yvonne Peattie Marquard, actress (Donovan’s Reef), dies
2005 – Metropolitan Wasyly Fedak, primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada (b. 1909)

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How to Glaze a Ham

A glazed ham is an impressive main course for any festive occasion. It’s easy to make, and a few tricks can guarantee moist, tender meat and a flavorful, gleaming glaze. Prepare the glaze while the ham’s in the oven, and brush it on when the ham is nearly done. Continue to bake the ham for around 15 minutes, or until the glaze is crispy and caramelized. For best results, use a meat thermometer to track the internal temperature and cook your ham to perfection.

EditSimple Brown Sugar Glaze
1 ⅓ cup (265 g) dark brown sugar

orange juice, red wine, or cognac

EditBrown Sugar and Soy Sauce Glaze
1 ⅓ cup (265 g) light brown sugar

soy sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced

EditBourbon, Molasses, and Clove Glaze


½ teaspoon (1 g) ground cloves

EditMaple-Orange Glaze
maple syrup

orange marmalade

2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter

1 tablespoon (16 g) Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon (2 g) ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon (¾ g) ground cinnamon

EditMaking a Glaze
Prepare the glaze after putting the ham in the oven. Eventually, you’ll glaze the ham about 15 to 20 minutes before it’s finished cooking. To have the glaze ready in time, start working on it around 45 to 60 minutes before you expect the ham to be done.[1]
Quick glazes take mere minutes, and even those that need to be reduced on the stove top take under 15 minutes.

Whisk up a brown sugar glaze if you want a simple, classic option. For the easiest, no-cook option, simply whisk together 1 ⅓ cup (265 g) of dark brown sugar with of orange juice, red wine, or cognac. Mix the ingredients in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved completely.[2]

Simmer a soy sauce glaze to add savory notes. Alternatively, combine 1 ⅓ cup (265 g) of light brown sugar, of soy sauce, and 2 minced garlic cloves in a small saucepan, then bring the ingredients to a boil over medium heat.[3]
Lower the heat once the mixture has reached a boil. Stir it occasionally, and simmer it for 3 to 5 minutes, or until it’s thickened slightly. Then turn off the heat, and allow the glaze to cool for at least 10 to 15 minutes before brushing it over the ham.

Combine bourbon, molasses, and cloves for a deep, warm glaze. Whisk together of molasses, of bourbon, and ½ teaspoon (1 g) of ground cloves in a small saucepan. Bring the ingredients to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes.[4]
Once the mixture has thickened slightly, turn off the heat, and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Make a maple-orange glaze for a tangy, bright flavor combination. Combine of maple syrup, of orange marmalade, 2 tablespoons (30 g) of unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon (16 g) of Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon (2 g) of ground black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon (¾ g) of ground cinnamon in a small saucepan. Simmer the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it’s syrupy and has reduced to .[5]
Let the glaze cool for at least 10 to 15 minutes before brushing it over the ham. of honey.[6]}}

Try coming up with your own custom glaze. You can find countless recipes for glazes, but coming up with your own glaze is easy. Experiment with ingredients on hand until you’ve balanced sweet, acidic, and savory flavors. Aim to make between of glaze, and reserve about a third of it to serve at the dinner table.[7]
The basic ingredients of a glaze are a sweetener (such as brown sugar or molasses), an acid (such as vinegar or orange juice), and herbs or spices (such as thyme or cloves).

EditApplying the Glaze
Bake a cured or pre-cooked ham covered at . Preheat the oven, remove the ham from its package, and pat it dry. Place the ham in an oven bag, and set it cut-side down on a shallow roasting pan lined with aluminum foil. If you don’t have an oven bag, cover the ham loosely with aluminum foil.[8]
Plan on baking a cured (pre-cooked) ham for about 10 to 15 minutes per pound (about 22 to 33 minutes per kg), or until it reaches an internal temperature of . If you didn’t soak the ham to bring it to room temperature, plan on heating it for an hour longer.. Set the ham in a foil-lined roasting pan, and pour of bourbon, cider, wine, or water over it. Bake it for about 20 minutes per pound (about 44 minutes per kg), or until it reaches an internal temperature of .[9]}}

Remove the ham from the oven 20 minutes before it’s finished baking. If you’re reheating a cured ham, take it out of the oven once it reaches an internal temperature of . For a ham soaked in hot water and baked at , that should take about 1 to 1 ½ hours.[10]
Rest the hot roasting pan on a wire cooling rack. After you take out the ham, raise the oven temperature to .

If you’re cooking an uncured ham at , take it out of the oven once it’s reached an internal temperature between , or after about 2 hours.[11]

Score the ham if it’s not spiral-sliced. Make a series of deep diagonal cuts apart across the top surface of the ham. Then rotate the pan and make diagonal cuts in the other direction to make a grid of diamond shapes. Scoring makes for a great presentation and allows the glaze to penetrate deeper into the meat.[12]
Since a spiral-sliced ham is pre-cut, scoring is unnecessary.

If desired, press a whole clove into each point where 2 scored lines intersect. Just remember to remove them before you carve and serve the ham. deep cuts across the its surface.[13]}}

Brush the ham with about a third of the glaze. Use a basting brush or a spoon to coat the ham with a portion of the glaze. Be sure to work the glaze into the ham’s scored lines or spiral cuts.[14]
The sugars in the glaze will caramelize, yielding an attractive, flavorful, and candy-like skin. Glazing the ham too early in the cooking process will lead to a scorched ham, so wait until the last 15 to 20 minutes.

Raise the oven to and continue baking the ham. Return the ham to the oven and continue baking it, uncovered, until the glaze begins to become shiny, crispy, and slightly brown.[15]
Raise the temperature when you first remove the ham so the oven has time to heat.

Brush on another third of the glaze after about 10 minutes. Work quickly when you brush on more glaze to prevent the oven temperature from dropping too low. Keep the ham in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes until the surface is crisp, brown, and caramelized.[16]
Be sure to keep a close eye on the ham through the oven window to keep it from burning.

EditServing Your Glazed Ham
Remove the ham from the oven and let it rest. Take the ham out of the oven, transfer it to a carving board, and turn off the oven. Tent it loosely with foil, and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes.[17]
While the ham rests, its internal temperature will increase a bit. This means the final serving temperature will be around for a cured ham and for one that was uncooked when you purchased it.

For a fresh, uncooked ham, is the recommended safe internal temperature. A cured ham was already cooked, so it’s even safe to eat cold.[18]

Make a quick sauce with the rest of the glaze. While the ham rests, whisk 2 to 4 tablespoons of the pan juices with the remaining third of the glaze until you’ve thinned it into a sauce.[19]
To keep the glaze warm, place the saucepan over a burner set to low heat and stir it occasionally.

Present the ham to your guests before carve it. Garnish the ham with a bouquet of fresh herbs, such as parsley or watercress, and show it off to your guests. Once they’ve had a chance to admire your handiwork, you can get to carving and serving the ham.[20]

Carve the ham into slices. If your ham isn’t pre-cut, slice it yourself with a sharp carving or chef’s knife. First, remove the cloves, if you inserted any into the scored surface. Cut off a few slices to flatten the thinner side, then turn the ham onto the flat side so it won’t roll as you carve the meatier side.[21]
If you look at the cut side, you’ll see that the bone is closer to one edge. This is the thinner side, and you want to carve the opposite, meatier side.

Slice straight down into the ham until you reach the bone. Make cuts every , then run the knife horizontally along the bone to remove the slices.

If you bought a spiral-sliced ham, simply cut along the bone to remove the slices.

Serve the ham slices with your glaze sauce. Transfer the slices, along with your garnishes, to a serving platter. Set a serving fork on the platter, and pour the glaze sauce into a gravy boat. Bring the boat and platter to the table, serve your guests, and invite them to add sauce to their liking.[22]
Pair your glazed ham with side dishes such as balsamic green beans, mashed or scalloped potatoes, and roasted carrots.

Go with a bone-in, spiral-sliced ham, which are the most flavorful, convenient, readily available options. They take less time to prepare and, since they’re pre-cut, are easier to carve.[23]
If you’re not sure what size ham to buy, allow about per person.

Avoid purchasing hams labeled “water added” or “ham and water product.” These injected solutions dilute the flavor.

To reduce cooking time, soak the ham in its original packaging in hot water for 90 minutes. Less time in the oven means less evaporation, which translates to moist, tender meat.[24]
Store leftover glazed ham for 7 to 10 days, and enjoy it with fried eggs, in sandwiches, or with leftover side dishes from your holiday meal.[25]
EditThings You’ll Need
Roasting pan

Oven bag (or aluminum foil)

Meat thermometer

Small saucepan

Measuring cup

Measuring spoon


Basting brush or spoon

Cutting board

Chef’s knife

EditRelated wikiHows
Score a Ham

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