Posts Tagged ‘housekeeping’

Displaying the Sunday Supplements

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Sunday supplementsFor many, Sundays mean not just roast lunches, but also the chance to sit down for an hour or three and read the Sunday newspapers.  Sunday is supplement central and it’s always a bore to have to riffle through the mound of papers and magazines to find the bit you are looking for… until now!  A simple solution, not my own, but very practical yet alone visually appealing is to display the newspapers at the start of the day in tiers so each section heading is easily visible to you and your family and guests.  The same can be done for magazines, not just on a Sunday but also throughout the week.

More Little Luxuries for Guest Bedrooms

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Last year I wrote about little luxuries for guest bedrooms. Almost the moment I published the blog I thought of more touches that I could have included, so I am finally getting round to documenting them.

Internet Like it or not, we are in the twenty first century and your guests will probably want to check their emails at some point. Make sure your Wi-Fi works in your guest room – particularly important for foreign guests whose mobile phones won’t be able to download on their data network without charging them a bomb!

BonbonsBonbons As I said in the first post about luxury touches, a chocolate on the pillow is naff and makes a private house look like a hotel, however a few discrete bonbons or the like in a neat jar for your guests to sneakily enjoy never fails to go down well. This jar from is perfect for the task

Bedding Good quality sheets, pillows and duvets will obviously make for a comfortable night’s sleep. If budget allows, add a topper to the mattress (with fitted/flat sheet on top) to make your guest feel like they are sleeping on a cloud. My beds have this luxury topper from The White Company, which is also where I buy my sheets

VaseA flower A single flower in a neat vase can put a smile on any guest’s face… as long as you know they aren’t allergic to pollen! A big vase of flowers will not only make the room smell too much; but it also takes up valuable space and guests will want space, more than anything else

Loo rollLoo roll Whilst there are some households I have worked for who believe that loo roll folds are the height of good taste, I hope my guests know me better than to know that I am doing them ironically. The picture shows one I have learned recently. It’s an immediate talking point for you and your guest when they come out from unpacking!


How to make your napkins the envy of your neighbours

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

I love a good stiff napkin. I’d never dream of offering a guest anything but.

Growing up, Granny would always take my mother’s linen napkins away to starch them ready for their next outing. Whilst Granny liked them to be so stiff you really could cut your lip on them, I prefer to leave a table cut-free, and so use a tad less starch.

White is the best colour for napkins, although multicoloured ones are fine for out-door affairs. Gingham works nicely for barbecues and picnics.

It always amuses people in my dining etiquette classes when I start talking about the different sizes of napkins, but there are, quelle surprise, correct sizes for different meals.

Dinner napkins are the largest and are anything from 22-26 inches square

Luncheon napkins are 18-24 inches square

Tea napkins are correctly 12 inches square

Cocktail napkins (now often paper) are usually 9 inches square.

Starching the napkin not helps protect the napkin from dirt but also helps keep them looking pristine; if you wish to fold them in a fancy shape then the starch will ensure the shape remains. 

How to starch…

  1. Wash napkins in the washing machine (60 degrees C) with no fabric softener. Do not tumble dry – add straight to the bucket of starch solution (instructions on how to prepare below)
  2. Depending on the level of stiffness required, add your scoops of powdered starch to a clean bucket (or Belfast sink). Two level scoops is what I choose for napkins; one scoop for shirts
  3. Pour a bit of cold water over the powder to dissolve – you will be left with a white liquid
  4. Pour in 2 pints of boiling water, followed by 2 pints of cold water
  5. Mix all together and then add the napkins
  6. One by one ring out over the starch solution and hang to air dry on an airer
  7. Leave the napkins to dry but not bone dry – you want them to be every so slightly damp
  8. Iron a medium to low setting so not to scorch the starch
  9. Try to avoid ironing in any creases (but by all means fold when done ironing).  Ironing in the creases will mean that when you fold the napkins into shapes you run the risk of your ironed-in creases showing up in places you don’t want them


If your napkins are white – and I do hope so – then I suggest using a whitening agent, such as a Dr Beckmann GloWhite sachet, which are available in most large supermarkets.

Once cooled, store your napkins flat – on top of each other is fine. Avoid storing for long periods on exposed shelving. For the uber-conscious, wrap them in acid-free tissue paper, rather than plastic bags. The latter can promote mildew. Napkin presses can still be found in use in the larger houses but are perhaps a tad OTT for suburban establishments.

NB: I buy by starch from Lakeland Ltd, click here to see. (And no, spray starch is not the same!)