Monday, September 21, 2009

Buying a tablecloth

Have you ever needed to buy a tablecloth, but you were unsure what size to get, not to mention if it's the correct size for the correct occasion? Well, so it's not something most people worry about as such, but I think it's a handy thing to know in home keeping. So here's a rough guide to help you find your perfect tablecloth. After all, after freshly laundered crisp bedlinen, a crisp tablecloth can really make any day feel extra special!

Breakfast or lunch tablecloths ought to hang over the edge of the table by 15-20 cm (6 - 8 inches)
A dinner cloth on the other hand ought to hang over by 20 - 30 cm (8 - 11 inches), and the more formal the occasion, the longer (I seriously did not know that until now), but you need to avoid the cloth draping on the chair seat, so it's recommended that you steer clear of an over 30cm overhang if possible unless it's a floor lenght round tablecloth - and those cloths are reserved for very formal occasions such as a wedding. Most linens shrink after laundering, especially in the length more than the width, so do take this into consideration when buying table linen, therefor allow for a 5 - 8 cm (2 - 3 inches) shrinkage. Here's a chart to help you next time you buy a tablecloth, it's really useful to refer to (click on it to enlarge):

Chart taken from the Anna's Linens website

I'm so glad that lace edged and Broderie Anglaise cloths are all making a comeback. I found some lovely vintage tablecloths on EBay recently, and most you can get cheaper than polyester tablecloths cost in the shops. Oilcloth tablecloths are great for big families, or doing crafts at the dining room table, but linen and cotton will make a lunch or dinner feel a bit smarter. I love crisp white cloths with a bit of detailing, but I also like cloths with big bold blue patterns on them... so much to choose from. Here are some of my favourites from the web...

What's your favourite?

Have a great week!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Goodbye Mould!

As promised, here is my post about mould... and boy have I had enough of mould. Maybe you don't or never have had a mould problem in your home, but please dear blogging friends, I urge you to read on and be prepared for when it might strike. Mould and damp is so destructive... but not to fear... it can be dealt with!

So I've mentioned previously that we had a water pipe burst - the water ran down through the ceiling, and down the back of the kitchen cupboards. This only happened for what we think was a couple of hours. All was fine when we went to bed, but when we woke up, there was the sound of dripping, and water on the kitchen worktop overflowing from some canisters against the wall that had filled up with water. Mr L quickly fixed the leak, and we dried the counters as best we could, emptied the kitchen cupboards, leaving the doors open so that they could dry. We were so grateful that we were home and could stop the leak because it seemed like there was hardly any damage to the kitchen or ceiling.

A couple of weeks passed and I noticed that the back of the kitchen cupboards were no longer sparkly white - and then the smell started. Every time you walked into the kitchen there was a faint smell of damp... we sort of knew something was happening, but we were in denial. Finally a month after the leak, we decided to take down the kitchen cupboards that Mr L and his dad worked so hard putting up a couple of years ago. This is what we found...

It was so much worse than we ever imagined! We never realised that so much was happening behind our kitchen cupboards with only a faint smell to give it away. We're heartbroken at being without half of our lovely kitchen, but we're looking forward to getting it sorted out soon too. We will have to replace the plasterboard on the walls, and then replace the kitchen units again, all I can say is thank goodness for house insurance! But poor mr L has allot of work ahead of him.

So, here are a couple of steps to take if you ever have a water leak, or discover mould! Don't hope for the best like we did, act quickly!

Step 1: If you have a water leak in the house - all surfaces need to dry-out properly. It seems obvious, but in the UK with high humidity almost year round it's much harder than you think. Carpets will need to be lifted, furniture needs to be removed from the area, and cupboards or selves will need most probably need to be taken down for drying out. Don't hesitate to hire a de-humidifier. This is the one thing that will help most at preventing mould!

Step 2: If you are at a stage where you discover mould - act quick! Mould will spread fast, a small area of mould is not too much of a problem, but when it gets bigger than a metre square area, the house occupants can suffer ill effects caused by mould. More specifically, asthma sufferers are at risk of having their asthma worsened. So once discovered, the mould will need to be cleaned away. If the area is manageable here is how to tackle it, but large areas of mould are best handled by professionals. The best non-industrial product I found here in the UK is the Dettol Mould & Mildew remover. But whatever product you choose to use, always wear a mask and gloves when cleaning mould. In order to prevent the spores from spreading too much, you will need to mist it lightly with a liquid such as the Dettol cleaner. This is to prevent the mould spreading around in the air as you wipe it off. Once you have sprayed it, use a cleaner or soapy water and a sponge to wipe away the mould. Keep rinsing the sponge and change the water regularly.

Wipe down all surfaces and areas around where the mould was, then use an absorbent cloth, or towel to remove as much of the moisture as possible. Using a de-humidifier at this stage will also help greatly (de-humidifiers can be rented in the UK for approximately £15-25 a day, but are worth it if you can save having to replace materials).

Step 3: Replace areas and surfaces that are irreparable, or potentially have more mould that you cannot reach. Then you will need to keep the area well ventilated for a week or two until you are sure that all surfaces are thoroughly dry, and mould areas have been cleaned and treated before replacing furniture, cupboards or shelves.

I hope this post will be a handy resource for anyone dealing with mould. Remember that untreated mould can pose health risks including allergic reactions, sinus infections and asthma attacks. It really boils down to drying wet areas out, and keeping damp areas well ventilated and clean before the mould has a chance to grow. But, mould happens, and when it does, it' handy to know that it can be treated.

I'll be back soon with another tip of the week. Thanks to Ivy for all her useful post ideas!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tip of the Week: cheese storage

Welcome to my new weekly posts that I'll be doing on top of my regular longer posts. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I no longer have the time to do a long post three times or even twice a week, so I thought a great way of making sure I post at least once a week is to have a quick weekly tip post. Suggestions of things you would like covered are welcome.

I'm starting off with storing cheese only because I recently got an email with household hints saying that cheese is best stored in aluminium foil. I wasn't so sure about this and went on a cheese and foil Google adventure. The tip was not quite right because storing cheese in foil can actually increase its chances of moulding. But boy oh boy, is there some controversy out there about storing cheese!? Everything from parchment paper to Tupperware. Here's what I could find out that seemed the best:

For hard cheeses, avoid plastic wraps, apparently the cheese starts tasting of the plastic. Instead wrap the cheese in wax paper, and then store in an airtight plastic container. This should be kept in the refrigerator drawers where it doesn't get too cold. Each time the cheese is unwrapped, re-wrap in fresh wrapping (seems a bit of a waste I know). Soft cheese is best kept in their original packaging but well sealed.

If cheese does become mouldy, cut away 1/2" around and below the mould. Soft cheeses however should be discarded when mould appears.

Let me know your thoughts on cheese storage. Ha ha, it's amazing what topics are useful for home keeping.

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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