Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cleaning Routine

We all know that the key to a beautiful clean and tidy home, where you can open the front door without having to say 'excuse the mess' every time, boils down to a good cleaning routine. This is by far the thing I struggle the most with in my home.

As I've mentioned before, it takes 21 days to form a new habit. But that's easier to do for a daily habit such as making the bed and brushing your teeth. I'm afraid very few of us have the time to make a daily habit of cleaning every single room. So the problem lies in trying to form a once or twice a week habit that sticks.
I've tried the old trick of Monday is laundry day, Tuesday is... but because some Mondays I have something on after work, some Tuesdays I'm exhausted, and some Thursdays the sun is shining and we go for a walk, it just never stuck.

Doing a bit of research I decided I'm going to re-try getting into the habit of some sort of a weekly routine by trying out a timing method. The reason for doing this is that I think subconsciously I avoid doing the daily cleaning because I convince myself I don't have the time. But what if it just takes 10 minutes a day? Surely I have 10 minutes to spare?

So here is how it's going to work- everyday I must pick one room or task and the rules are:

  • Pick a time of day that will work consistently to form a habit (perhaps after breakfast, or in my case straight after work)
  • Asses what needs doing in the room, and what will be needed to clean.
  • Gather all cleaning equipment before the task starts.
  • Take along an empty washing basket or bucket.
  • Once all the equipment you need is set up, START THE TIMER.
  • Don't rush, but work through the area systematically.
  • Anything that doesn't belong in that room must go in the washing basket/bucket.
  • When the time is up- stop! If you're not done, make a note of when you're next session will be. Who knows, maybe you are so into the swing of it, that you'll do it right away again. If not, your room is probably allot cleaner already than it was before, so that's a job well done already.
  • Now take the washing basket with the things that didn't belong in that room, and chuck any rubbish in the bin, the rest must go back to where they belong.
  • Pack away the cleaning equipment.
  • Sit down, have a cup of tea, and get on with the other stuff you love to do.

This method could be used for a messy wardrobe, untidy drawers or similarly you could use this method for a spring clean by spending half the day doing 15 minutes per room.

The task willof course take a bit longer than 10 minutes because you have to gather all your equipment as well as unpack that washing basket. But the idea is that those things don't take that long anyway, and you get 10 minutes of focused cleaning or tidying.
I'm going to try this starting today. I will keep you posted as to how this works for me. Hopefully I'll be onto a new good habit very soon.

Below is a list of all the handy places to find help for a cleaning routine. Perhaps you've tried some of these yourself - did they work for you?
Marla Ciley is the very clever lady who shares shares her ways of establishing a daily cleaning routine for free! If you join FlyLady, you will get daily emails, and step by step guides to help you slowly establish all new good habits. I think this is a brilliant and uplifting website, and is extremely helpful for people who really feel overwhelmed at getting their homes back in control. FlyLady says "Our FlyLady system is all about establishing little habits that string together into simple routines to help your day run on automatic pilot. You can do this! " . FlyLady's first habit she teaches you is to shine the sink on a daily basis. What a great idea!

Monthly Deep House Cleaning Schedule
Here Housewife Sherry Morris gives a handy method to deep cleaning your house for one month spending only 15 minutes a day. Details on how to do it is available on her website. This is another timer based cleaning method.

Home keeping and organisation books:
There are plenty of books out there that claim to help you sort out your home. Take a look at some of the books at the Library and try them out before buying, you don't want an information overload! I have plenty of other favourite home keeping books which I will post about at a later date, but the list below are ones that deal specifically with routine cleaning

A handy little book with some helpful hints. Although there's no set method laid out, this book does have some original hints and tips.

I know many people don't like celebrity books, but this one, it has to be said is a pretty good home keeping manual that keeps it simple. Its' not too text heavy either, I just wish it had more how-to pictures. But I recommend it.

I've not read this one myself, but thought I'd put it up since it seemed relevant on the 10 minute cleaning routine. It's meant to also be a good laugh - there's nothing wrong with some good humour! Have you read this?

A manual to help establish a method to work your way through the house. Unfortunately for us full time workers, this book (as the title says) is for full time home keepers. None the less, it seems a great read with good tips.

I've found some really fun timers out there- these are just what I need to cheer up my cleaning routine.

Left to right

Row 1: Rope neck timers from Legend Cookshops; a sweet pink clock & timer from Little Blue Sheep; Digital sand timers that come in different colours from Salter- available from Pots and Pans.

Row 2: The FlyLady timer; A retro time from Amazon; A flashing kitchen timer also available from Amazon.

Row 3: An Alessi mr. Chin timer from
fitzsu; I just love these, a kettle and pan timer from Shopintuition; A classy round kitchen timer from Anthropologie, of course!

Have you got a cleaning routine that works? If so, please please share it with us. If you want to share it in detail with us, email me at and I will post all about it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Neatly stacked towels

My linen cupboard is where my interest in home keeping really started, hence the blog name. The very first thing we did when we moved into our home was to put up shelves in the old water boiler cupboard. Since then, whilst we've been renovating the house, it has been the one space that has stayed consistently tidy. A little door I could open to escape from the chaos of the rest of the house. Seeing my sheets stacked, pillowcases next to one another, and the table cloths folded neatly gives me a sense of control, and as an aesthetic person I always notice how nice it looks.

Alongside fitted sheets (I'll be posting about that sometime), towels are the culprits that can leave a linen cupboard looking rather untidy. They seem to flop all over the place when your try and remove one, and their edges stick out making it look like you have a stack of 16 towels rather than 4. If you take a few extra seconds to lay towels out and fold them as shown below, I promise you, it makes all the difference to your linen cupboard (or your bathroom shelves)!

Here's How:

Step 1

Lay the towel on a flat surface, and fold one of the long sides two thirds of the way in.

Step 2

Bring in the opposite side over so that the towel is now folded into thirds.

Step 3

Fold one of the short sides into the middle of the towel.

Step 4

Fold in the other short side so that they meet in the middle.

Step 5

Now fold the towel in half.

There you go- a towel good enough to display. Best of all, each towel will look like one towel only.

Handy hint:

Some of you might already do this without even realising you're doing it... to make the towel fold easier and smoother use the edge of your hand to score the line where you want to make a fold ( a bit like scoring a piece of paper with the edge of the scissors). I use this scoring technique for folding sheets and tablecloths too.

PS: Our doggy is doing just fine now. He had a grass seed that got stuck within the flesh under his tongue causing an infection. He was so dopey after the vets yesterday, but this morning he was awake and ready for his breakfast again.Thanks for the lovely comments!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Serving English tea

Photo by SixyBeast

Writing about guests in my previous posts, also got me thinking about brewing tea... since living in England I have joined in the custom of drinking a cup of tea at every occasion. I love that everyone in England offers a cup of tea as you walk through their door. You may of course have coffee, juice or water, but they will always ask "Can I get you a cup of tea". Now, the English certainly know how to make a decent cup of tea and I'm afraid it does also have to do with the quality of everyday tea here which seems to be much stronger than 'normal' tea elsewhere around the world. If you would like the equivalent to an English brew, get the tea marketed as 'English breakfast tea'.

Making the 'perfect' tea, also boils down to the use of a teapot. Of course you can use teabags in a mug, but everyone knows how to do this, I'm talking about tea that's good enough for the queen (or your guests of course). Most people agree that loose tea leaves are best, but if you can't get hold of them don't fret, unless your guests actually are the royal family, I'm sure they wont notice the difference.

You'll need:

A teapot, loose tea leaves or tea bags, thin slices of lemon, white sugar in a sugar bowl with a sugar spoon (brown sugar tastes great in coffee, not so great in tea), tea cups and saucers, teaspoons and a milk jug with fresh non-UHT milk (no cream).

This is how you do it:

  • Fill an empty kettle with fresh cold water and bring to the boil.
  • Whilst the water is boiling, warm up the teapot with hot water from the tap to prevent the teapot cracking when boiling water is poured in.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves per cup and an extra teaspoon for the pot, to the pot. If you are using teabags, just us one per cup
  • As soon as the water starts to boil, remove the kettle from the heat. Add the water to the pot, and steep the tea for no longer than 6 minutes.
  • Before pouring the tea, add milk to the cups for those who wish to have milk, but not the lemon just yet.
  • Now slowly pour the tea, if using tea leaves, pour through a tea strainer.
    Add sugar to those who wish to have it, and only once the sugar has been stirred should you add the lemon slices for those who aren't taking milk. Adding the lemon first will prevent the sugar from dissolving.
  • If there is tea left in the pot that you wish to use, remove tea bags, or in the case of tea leaves, pour the through the tea strainer into a clean warmed up pot. Use a tea cosy to keep the tea warm. Leaving teabags or leaves in the pot to steep will cause the tea to taste bitter.

Some of the information above is from what I have been taught by my English husband and family, and the rest of the details is from the very informative The Tea Table website. This is not how I make tea on a daily basis, but it's nice to do it this way for special occasions.

Below are some practical and not so practical inspirations and finds.

I would like to add that the things I feature, are completely by my own choice, I do not get paid to feature any of these things, they are not advertisements, just things I found that I liked. The reason why many of them are from Etsy, is that I can write to the people and tell them that I've featured their items. There's little chance of a big company writing back to me ans saying 'thanks, of course you can use our image' . So please don't see them as my way of trying you to buy things, they are here for inspiration and your enjoyment.

From left tor right

Row 1: A beautiful warm knitted tea cosy from Chi-Chi Moi; Very cute little teacup earrings by Charlieccbb; a sugar and creamer set in beautiful colours with a poppy design from Alina Hayes Ceramics.

Row 2: Tea cosy fit for a queen? This classy one is from Gloaming Designs; A handy tea strainer from Sur La Table; tea strainers can be pretty like this one from Ivy Leaf Tea .

Row 3: Make tea not war tote bag by Communitea, brilliant! ; the sweetest sugar bowl ever made by Miss Pottery; Awww, a little teeny tiny teacup ring from Sypria.

Being a guest to stay

After my last post about making an effort for guests who come to stay, Ivy from the blog Little Ivy Cakes posted a comment asking me this:

My question for you is, What are some nice gestures you can do as a guest to make it more pleasant for the host? perhaps making a home made dinner for
them? or ... :)

Great question Ivy!
First off, being a good guest starts with merely enjoying yourself. The more you enjoy yourself and make it known to your host that you are enjoying yourself, the more your host will relax. But enjoying yourself also doesn't mean drinking all the wine, and helping yourself to the beauty products in the bathroom cabinet. Being prepared to at least try the food that is put in front of you, make an effort in the conversations, and thanking your host, is more than enough to make most hosts enjoy your stay. However if you would like to go the extra mile, here are a few suggestions.

  • I like Ivy's idea of making a meal for your hosts. This is especially a good idea if you are staying over for a few days or more. Try to arrange it before your visit with your host to check if you need to bring any equipment along, and definitely take along your own ingredient's, but I'm sure no host will mind you sharing their olive oil and salt.

  • Once again, flowers is always a nice gesture, even more so if they are from your garden, or perhaps you stopped and picked some next to the road on your way, either way, you don't always have to spend money on a nice gesture.

  • Making your bed as a stay over guest is another way to make it a bit easier for your host - if you need help in this regard, read my post on making the perfect bed.

  • My mother-in-law always brings her own pint of milk with. They have plenty cups of tea when they stay, so we always appreciate the extra milk.

  • If you are as talented as Ivy who bakes incredible things, something home made as a gift will be much appreciated, and best of all, you'll most likely get to eat some yourself too!

  • Even if you know your help is probably not needed in the kitchen, it's always worth asking if you can help out. It shows that you are not taking your stay for granted and expecting to be treated as royalty. But unless you are staying with close family, don't take over in the kitchen and start preparing food without asking, it's surprising how many people feel a bit territorial about their kitchens.

  • Hang up any towels you use, and leave the bathroom tidy after you've had shower or bath.

  • Take along a book or magazines, you don't want your host to feel they need to entertain you at all times.

  • If you you have kids that are fussy eaters, take food along that you can prepare yourself.

  • Go with the flow, and ask if your hosts need you to get up at a certain time for any plans they may have.

  • Make use of any coasters when you have a drink, you don't want to leave marks on furniture that will outstay your visit.

  • Before you leave, make sure you leave the room more or less as it was presented to you. Put any rubbish in the bins, fold or hang up used towels. Ask you host would like you to remove the sheets, and offer to put on fresh clean sheets... they might decline, but they'll appreciate you asking.

A big thank you stipulating what you enjoyed most about your stay always goes down well. There's nothing like manners! Our mums will be proud of us ;)

Take a look at this amazing Lemon cheesecake that Ivy made, I imagine if you take something like this along when staying over somewhere they might never let you leave again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Having guests to stay

This past weekend I had my parents in-law to stay at our house. I enjoy having guests stay over, and I like to make an effort. Having guests, and preparing for their arrival is part of home keeping. The one thing I also like about having guests is that it forces me to get up off my backside and clean the house properly (I know, I know, if I kept on top of my house cleaning routine I wouldn't need to run around like a lunatic before their arrival in the first place).

Anyway, all of this got me thinking about special gestures to welcome guests. Last year when I visited my family in South Africa, my aunt put some fresh flowers from her garden in the room where I was staying, so simple, but what a special gesture . My mum always leaves me a gift on the bed when I'm staying- mum's are the best! My friend who we recently visited left some chocolates on our pillows when we stayed over, and my mother in-law always has a cup of tea ready as soon as we walk through the door. These are all things that say 'it's nice to have you here' and sets the visit off to a good start.

Here are some lovely gestures you can try when you next have guests to stay. Even if your guests must stay on the sofa or a mattress in the living room, add that extra something to say 'thanks for visiting'. Oh, and clean bedding really does make a difference.

  • Fresh flowers from the garden in the 'guest' room (even if it's the study)

  • Leave their favourite candy or sweet on a pillow

  • Fresh towels on the bed says 'make yourself at home', wrap some towels in a ribbon along with a small soap

  • Glasses on the bedside table with some water before bedtime is a simple but caring gesture

  • A great tip from the How to be the Perfect Housewife book is to save up all those free samples of make-up and creams you get in magazines, and put them in a little guest basket in case your guests have left anything at home

  • Save the free toothbrushes you get if you fly abroad and add them to your guest basket

  • A small soap or body lotion left on the bed is sophisticated, and will make your guests feel like they are staying at a bed and breakfast

  • Leave some magazines or books out for your guests to read before bedtime

  • When guests with a baby or toddler are staying, childproofing the room by removing breakables and covering electrical points will put everyone at ease.

  • For guests staying longer than one night, leaving a tray with bottles of water and snacks is a good idea, they might be too shy to ask for food between meals

  • A note saying 'welcome, make yourselves at home' left on the bed will help your guests relax

  • Vacuum and tidy the room before guests arrive, a fresh room is much more welcoming

So adding that small something extra for guests is a wonderful way to start their stay off on a positive note. Keep it simple and don't overdo it... you might never get rid of them again. As always, here are some inspiring finds and ideas to update a guest room

Left to right

Row 1: This bowl filled with goodies for your guests is sure to make a statement, from the talented glass artist at Handmade Heaven; Beautifully scented soap like this oatmeal, goats milk and honey ones from MoonMaidenSoap will also make the room smell nice; A pretty vase tall enough to proudly display your best garden flowers from Vessel & Wares.

Row 2: This delightful and inspiring room belongs to the Killyrudden bed & breakfast in New Zealand; Perfect to put on the side table for guests at night, this recycled glass night set is from Reform School; Organic Bamboo towels from Shoo-Foo.

Row 3: These tumbled turquoise stone lookalikes are very impressive little soaps, from Amethyst Soaps; A terry cloth designed for babies, but perfect for washing away make-up without the guilt of leaving mascara marks on white towels from The Pat-a-cake Baby; A funky retro display tray from Natuure.

I'll be posting again soon.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ironing a shirt

Ironing a long sleeve shirt or blouse can be frustrating (it's the sleeves isn't it). But in my case, with a husband who wears shirts to work everyday we've had to learn to do it, and preferably without two crease lines running down the length of the arms. There are certain steps to follow to iron a shirt perfectly, and if you make a point to do it this way, you'll find it much easier. Here's how:

Step 1: Back collar
Starting with the underside of the collar, iron from the points inwards

Step2 : Front collar
Do the same on the outside of the collar

Step 3: Shoulders
Slip the shoulder over the narrow side of the ironing board and iron from the middle back of the shirt towards the shoulder seam, do the other shoulder too.

Step 4: Cuffs

Iron the inside of each cuff, followed by the outside

Step 5: Sleeve
Line up the sleeve, cuff opening side up, ironing from the bottom edge of the seam up. Then the other side, and remember to do both sleeves.

Step 6: Back
Slip the back of the shirt with the collar at the narrow end over the board, and iron the back. Move the shirt along so that all areas are ironed up to the seams.

Step 7: Button strip and front
Press the button strip, and iron alongside the front of the shirt. Now the button hole side, ironing carefully over the pocket.

Step 8: Collar
Re-press the fold in the collar.

Step 9: Hang it up
Hang the shirt up with at least the two top buttons done up to avoid creasing in the wardrobe, but of course doing up all the buttons is the 'proper' way.

There you go ladies and gentlemen... wear your shirt with pride.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A sparkling refrigerator

Now, there is no way to sugar coat this, yes, it's not the most pleasant look-at-me-in-my-white-pinny thing to do. But our refrigerators need cleaning! If you aren't going to keep that thing that's meant to keep your food fresh and bacteria free clean, you might as well do without *finger wagging* . So let's get this over with, it doesn't take long!

Step 1: Empty
Empty out the contents of your fridge, and yes, now is the time to check what is out of date and throw it in the bin. Take out all the drawers and shelves and stack them next to the sink ready for washing.

Step 2: Wash
Use a damp cloth and a sink/ bucket full of soapy water to wipe down the inside of your fridge. Dishwashing liquid is by far the best to use, you really do not want to use any nasty chemicals that you wouldn't normally use to wash your plates with. Rinse the cloth frequently as you about it.

Step 3: Rinse
Now rinse the fridge with a vinegar and water solution (1/2 cup of vinegar added to a sink of water should be fine) using a cloth or sponge. This will help get rid of any soapy deposits. Wipe dry with a clean absorbent cloth.

Step 4: Wash
Wash the shelves and drawers as you would any normal dishes in your sink, and dry them well.

Step 5: Put it back!
After replacing all the shelves... STOP before you stack the contents back into your fridge. Use a cloth to wipe the bottom of containers and packets before putting them back in your fridge, you don't want to undo all your good work!

Step 6: Have a cup of tea, you're done!

Have a look at this very neatly organised refrigerator. This fridge belongs to Aby from the Creative Organizing blog who's very kindly shared pictures of her fridge on her website (yes there's more). Look, she even has a little lazy susan for her jars, and see those labels! I hang my head in shame... I have fridge envy.

If you'd like to go down the route that Aby did and organise your fridge, here are some very cheery organisers to tidy up your fridge, including a label maker to do it the Aby way!

Left to right

Row 1: A retro label buddy is from dymo; The classiest storage jars I have ever seen available from Outblush; Be quick, this is a rare find, a sunny vintage lazy susan to brighten up your day from vintage mode.

Row 2: What a sweet design, this is a classic pyrex from this ebayer; These handy stackables are from Lakeland; storing food 70s style, this sweet pair of Tupperware containers is from vintageprints.

Row 3: The prettiest labels for jars by kellydesigns4u; vintage inspired glass storage wares from the containerstore; a double lazy susan available from (might have to get one of these myself) mess therapy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another perfectly made bed

After my post on '10 Steps to make the perfect bed', friendly blogger Debbie from Debbie's English Treasures has sent me a picture of her perfectly made bed in her guestroom.

This is Debbie's guestroom on the left, and then I've added some of her treasured finds that Debbie collects and sells. Pop over and see what else she has.

Yup, that duvet is pulled taught... It does look very comfy and cosy ! I especially love the patterned fabric on the duvet cover, and as you can see on my blog, coral pink is sooo my favourite colour at the moment! Lovely touch with the flowers.
Thanks Debbie!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

'She Sweeps with Many-Colored Brooms'

I happen to stumble across this delightful poem by Emily Dickinson;

She sweeps with many-colored brooms,
And leaves the shreds behind;
Oh, housewife in the evening west,
Come back, and dust the pond!

You dropped a purple ravelling in,
You dropped an amber thread;
And now you've littered all the East
With duds of emerald!

And still she plies her spotted brooms,
And still the aprons fly,
Till brooms fade softly into stars -
And then I come away.

Although not literally referring to coloured brooms, it still got me thinking of the different types of brooms there are. I find great satisfaction in sweeping the floors, perhaps it's a really quick way to tidy up a room (I'm afraid I'm drawn to short-cuts). But different brooms have different uses, and we certainly don't need one of each. So here is a list of brooms and what they're good for, so that next time you're out looking for a broom, you'll know which ones will suit your needs best ... and you thought a broom was a broom? So did I!

1. Indoor Push Broom
This is a wide broom which comes either with synthetic or soft natural bristles. These are great for large indoor areas, and as the name suggests, you push it along. Use long smooth strokes keeping the bristles on the floor as much as possible. If you have rough uneven floor, use a natural bristle broom with stiffer bristles, whereas soft synthetic bristles will be better on a smooth floor surface.

2. Corn Broom
Corn brooms are great for rough surfaces, they will gather leaves, gravel and stones, but wont collect finer particles of dirt. Use this broom on rough stone floors, in the garage, on patios or in mud rooms.

3. Angled Broom
A synthetic broom where the bristles are at an angle. Great for tight spaces, and under the table sweep-ups. This is a broom you can use for those quick daily clean ups.

4. Whisk broom
A natural whisk broom is usually a small triangular broom used for whisking away the dirt on upholstery, carpets, and in hard to reach areas. Synthetic whisk brooms are useful for sweeping up piled dirt into a dust pan. I use a course whisk broom to sweep dirt off our carpeted stairs if I'm not in the mood lug the vacuum cleaner with me.

5. Hearth broom
Similar to a whisk broom but a bit longer, and as the name states you clean the fireplace hearth with it. It's best to choose a hearth broom where the bristles are closer together than that of a whisk broom.

6. Rubber broom
You might have seen one of these in a hairdressers because of their static nature, so this is a handy one if you have a moulting pet. They can be used for dry sweeping, wet spills, carpets and as a bonus are easy to clean. I wouldn't use one of these as my only broom, because I'm rather partial to a soft natural bristle broom, but they are very useful.

7. Electric broom
Considered by many as the 'lazy' broom, but really it's very handy in houses with large hard floor surfaces and wonderful for people with bad backs or mobility problems. If you are considering one, a cordless version is best.

8. Outdoor Push Broom
Great for sweeping up on outdoor paths, driveways and patios where pushing the dirt is more effective than gathering it. Look for one with two holes on the base so that the angle of the stick can be switched around for even ware.

And if the basic plastic/wooden broom and accessories just don't do it for you- take a look at this exciting selection of sweeping goods. Goodness, who knew brooms could be exciting!?

Left to right:

Row 1: These spotty brooms will cheer up your housework, from Love Etc; A wonky handled broom from the crookedshoppe, brilliant; A very pretty vintage dustpan from Shopambrosia.

Row 2: Mini whisk brooms from Justamere tree farm; A pretty pink and green broom available from Betterware; A King and Queen dust pan and brush set from the French company Pylones.

Row 3: A cheery dustpan available in different patterns from Decorative Things; Ooh, a 5 slot broom organiser from Organize-It; And finally Palumba on Etsy do these sweet children's brooms, get those kids sweeping up their crumbs

That's it for now. I'll be posting gain in a couple of days time, watch out for my post on how we can clean and organise our refrigerators.

Hope to see you soon

Sunday, July 13, 2008

10 Steps to make the perfect bed

Making the bed on a daily basis is something I struggled with for a long time. I read it takes 21 days to establish a habit, so two years ago I set myself the challenge to make the bed as soon as I get up, for 21 days. Before I knew it, it was such a part of my routine (5 minutes of it) that now I do it without even thinking about it. So here it is, the 10 steps to making the (perfect) bed. Once you've practised it, it really does become easier.

These steps do include doing hospital corners for a top sheet- this is of course optional, but it does look very impressive.

Step 1: First thing in the morning, remove all blankets, duvets & pillows from the bed and open those windows for some fresh air.

Step 2: Pull the bottom sheet so that it's nice & smooth.

Step 3: Drape the top sheet over the bed (right side down), with the wider hem at the top of the bed, and tuck the sheet in at the foot of the bed. I've also shown where you need to pinch the sheet for the next step.

Step 4: Pinch the sheet as indicated in step 3, then lift it up and the rest that edge on the top of the bed as shown.

Step 5: Tuck in the part of the sheet that was still hanging down.

Step 6: Now let the side edge of the sheet resting on the bed fall down to the alongside the bed.

Step 7: Tuck in the side edge of the sheet all along the bed. Ta da! You have a hospital corner.

Step 8: This is the important step to make a bed look beautiful... you can tuck in the bottom edge of the quilt if your bed allows, then walk around the bed tugging at the edges to pull the duvet taught. Fold the top of the top sheet over the duvet - beautiful!

Step 9: Fluff the pillows, stack them and tug at the corners of the pillowcases so that they are smooth.

Step 10: Add some display cushions and a throw or blanket to the edge of the bed....

... I promise, you'll love getting into bed even more with the sheets pulled tight, and the corners tucked in.

Sleep tight!!!

PS: Do send me photos if you have a beautifully made bed! I'd love to see them, and I'll post them right here with a link to your blog.

Images are subject to copyright, and belongs to The Linen Cupboard, please contact me if you would like to use any of these images.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bedroom Sanctuary

Do you sometimes go to bed feeling overwhelmed by the mess that surrounds you? Our bedrooms are where we should be able to go to get away from it all, switch off, be close to the ones we love, and fall asleep. So the idea is that you need to turn your bedroom into a little holiday place, where you can feel cut off from your daytime responsibilities. It should be the place where the mess from the rest of the house just doesn't go... so here are my top tips for a comfortable clean bedroom.

Photo by Sparklerawk

Chuck it out:
1. A pile of ironing, you don't want to go to bed with a reminder of things you still need to do.
2. Used plates and mugs on your bedside table. Having bacteria grow on manky crockery near your head is not great for your health.
3. A computer, briefcase or piles of work papers. Shut work away when you go to bed! If you have to have a computer in your room, have it in a cupboard, or make a pretty cover for it.

Bring it in:
1. Nightlights for reading, reading is a great way to switch off.
2. Laundry baskets with lids, so that you can pile away your dirty clothes out of sight.
3. A glass of water by your bedside so that you don't have to get up if you're thirsty.
4. Hooks on the back of the door, so that gowns, towels and other garments don't have to be piled up onto the bed or floor
5. A beautiful picture opposite your bed (your favourite holiday spot perhaps?), and wake up to something lovely.

The Mattress
1. Instead of replacing your mattress, a mattress topper such as the one from IKEA could prolong the life of your mattress.
2. Turn your mattress twice a year- use this fabulous idea to help you remember when
3. Dust mites are the most common allergen to trigger asthma, so vacuum your mattress with an upholstery attachment every time you change the sheets.
4. While you've got the vacuum handy, vacuum under the bed, believe me, if you don't you will be disgusted to see how much dust gathers over a short time, and to think, it's all your dead skin cells! Yuck!

The Air you breathe
1. Air your bedroom by opening the windows daily as you make the bed (unless you'll freeze to death doing it)
2. Shake out the quilt, and fluff those pillows to help circulate the air as you do it.
3. Try not to use any artificial air fresheners or chemicals in your bedroom, you want the air you breathe as you sleep to be clean, no smell is a clean smell.
4. It's been suggested not to put a plant your bedroom as plants produce oxygen during the day, but at night time they produce CO2, removing Oxygen from the air. However a small plant in the bedroom should do no harm, especially if your bedroom is well ventilated.

Bedding, lovely bedding
1. Sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers should be washed weekly- the human body sweats more than you think when sleeping.
2. Quilts, duvets and pillows that can't be washed in a washing machine (such as feather duvets) can be steamed cleaned or hung out in the sun to kill off those nasty dust mites.
3. Natural materials such as cotton, wool, silk and feathers will keep you warm while still allowing your skin to breathe.

But most importantly start off by making your bedroom look beautiful, you'll want to keep it clean if you love the space.
Here are my finds and inspirations for a more comfortable bedroom.

Left to right

Row 1: Fall asleep on this organic pillow from the Natural Collection; Gorgeous dotty bedding from Dunhelm Mill; wake up to music with this Cath Kidston Digital Radio available from Home Vision

Row 2: Add a vintage touch with this recycled handkerchief lampshade by Recycleeh; Lap up the luxury with a silk duvet from Gingerlilly; Make your mattress comfortable again with an IKEA mattress topper.

Row 3: Doze off to the scent of organic lavender from elk home; Add these delicious glass Handmade Heaven coasters to your bedside table to avoid coffee mug stains; tidy away dirty clothes into these fair trade laundry baskets from the guardianecostore.

That's it for now, look out for my next post which will be a 10 step illustrated guide to making the bed (yes, with hospital corners too).
Hope to see you soon!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bring out the welcome mat...

Hello and welcome to the first post on my Linen Cupboard blog. I hope you will find my research into the art of home keeping entertaining and fun. Somehow I think there are many of us out there that long for days when house keeping and cleaning was fashionable. When it was still talked about, taught and understood. This lovely New England welcome mat is from the dotcomgiftshop.

I'm hoping to show both you and me, that home keeping involves many different things and it could (not to mention should) be fun. Why? Because we should love our homes, and those who visit or share it with us should love being there too. It's fundamental to our happiness. Of course we all have different ideas to what makes the perfect home, and that's fine. But fundamentally our homes are where we feel safe and secure. A clean house keeps us healthy and happy.

But before I jump straight past the front door, and start handing out advice on how to clean, organise and live a happier life within our homes, I thought we should start from the outside... A friend of mine has recently re-painted her front door in a fetching teal colour, and that reminded what a difference a front door makes to the whole feel of a home. Walking up to a house that looks clean and cared for from the outside will influence not only how you and others see your house from the outside, but will already set the feel of the house you are about to enter.

So shake out that welcome mat, sweep away the dust and leaves, and give your front door a fresh lick of paint (take a look at the The stepped-up stoop article on the Martha Stewart website for some more handy tips). Go ahead and wash the windows surrounding your front door, put up a light, stick up some new numbers, hang out a sign to welcome people or for those creative souls, get busy making a wreath. Next time you walk up to your front door you'll feel proud... it's your home, even if you don't own your own home, you should love where you live and take care of the place that keeps you safe and dry!

Here are some inspiring ideas and finds, I hope you like them.

From left to right:

Row 1: A very classy and easy way to add a welcome sign to your front door from ScribbleIT; The sweetest birdie hanger ever - would look great hanging in the window of a door, made by emilyfriday ; and a lovely stepping stone to add to your path, available from

Row 2: Beautiful self adhesive vinyl sign from Singlestonestudio; This fabulous front door belongs to the Yellow Door Cottage in Australia; Add some modern numbers to make it easy for guests to find your house, these are from Design Within Reach .

Row 3: A simple classic wooden welcome sign by Georgiegirlcrafts ; a very unique and girlie wreath by Constant gatherer; If you have a spare bit of glass by your front door, add your house number to it with frosted glass film as done by Purlfrost

In future posts I hope to feature some inspiring people, and get you (anyone out there?) to send in some photos and tips too! So do take part! Next up- the bedroom, what to keep, what to chuck out, and how to sleep sound. Have a fabulous week! x

A note on perfection

Many of the posts featured on this blog are about doing household chores the correct, or so to say perfect way. My intention is not to make readers feel that the way they are running their households are wrong. So if making the bed, or ironing shirts in a certain way doesn't fit your lifestyle, do not feel guilty about it. But by learning the correct way of doing things it might just come in handy for those times when special guests are staying, or when you need to iron that shirt perfectly for a job interview. So enjoy the learning, but skip the guilt and LOVE your homes. x

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