9 Sep 2011

It's a fairly common problem (although not a complete crisis I'll admit) if you live in the UK and don't have a tumble dryer. Whether your freshly washed jeans are hanging outside on the line or inside on an airer, you want to wear them but can't quite tell if they are dry yet... until you put them on and discover a damp waistband/sleeve/hem.

"Put it against your cheek", says my mother. You won't be able to tell the difference between 'damp' and 'just a bit cold' with those rugged world weary hands of yours. But your face is fresh and sensitive.

It won't drastically change your life, but it might save you a few minutes of a morning when you don't have to keep changing your trousers!

#19 How to tell when your clothes are dry

Read More

21 Apr 2011

I once had a conversation with a friend of which the topic, randomly enough, was the comparison of spare-knicker related advice we have received from our mothers.

"My mother always told me," she explained, "to pack a spare pair of pants when I go to a sleepover". But even with thought she couldn't work out why this was a good idea, and I don't think she was a secret teenage bed wetter. And what is the point of advice with no reason?

"My mother," I replied, "always told me to pack a spare pair of pants and a toothbrush in my hand luggage when I fly anywhere. That way, if your luggage gets lost, at least you have the basics."

"That," my friend had to concede, "makes a lot more sense."

So, pack your basics in your hand luggage. And, as an extra piece of advice, if you are planning to fly straight from your wedding in your reception/wedding dress, for goodness sake take a change of clothes in your hand luggage too. (This last bit stems from a vague memory of a story of this nature happening to an aunt of ours... funny, but not for long). 

#18 When to pack spare pants

Read More

10 Jan 2011

A good white sauce is the basic of several of my favourite meals - gammon and parsley sauce, lasagne, or a simple cheese sauce on pasta. Yum.

The base is plain flour and melted butter mixed to a paste, which you cook for a little in the pan before adding milk (careful not to burn it!). Quantities obviously vary depending on how much you want. What my mother taught me is the importance of adding the milk a little at a time. Initially, just a splash at a time, then mix it in fully. It takes quite a while to get to the liquid stage. Make sure that each bit of milk is mixed in properly and heated through before adding more.

Then, keep gently heating and stir constantly until it thickens. Then you can add your parsley or melt in your cheese. The whole thing takes patience, but it definitely worth it for a creamy, lump-free white sauce.  I'm not great in the kitchen, but I can pull of this one (almost) every time.

#17 How to make white sauce

Read More