30 Oct 2010

This is quite a specific piece of advice, and one which actually came to us through my father's side.

The story begins with his parents who, for reasons lost in the passage of time, were left in charge of a small girl in their house for an afternoon. The girl, by all accounts, was rather sullen. My grandfather, in a desperate attempt to amuse the melancholy child, searched the room for inspiration.

"Look," he said, picking up a somewhat squashed, black, furry hat and presenting it to the young girl, "Dead cat!".

Safe to say, the little girl was in no way amused.

What do we learn from this? Well, think before you act, of course. But mostly, never present a grumpy child with an animal carcase, even if it is only an item of clothing - a dilemma which I'm sure many of us face on a regular basis...

#8 How not to amuse small children

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25 Oct 2010

If life is getting on top of you, and you don't know where to start, write a list. We all know that this can get your head in order and make tasks seem more managable etc. etc.

But if you want an instant boost, do as my mother does. At the top, write something you have already done, or indeed write "write a list". That way, as soon as you have written the list you can already cross something off, you feel better about yourself and, if you're lucky, more motivated to complete another item.

Go on, grab a scrap of paper...

#7 Make a list

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18 Oct 2010

Life is full of tricky choices... The shirt or the vest?... The teacosy or the pretty apron?... The pumpkin or the butternut squash?... You can really only buy one, but how do you choose? Just do what my mother tells you to do:

A piece of very practical advice, to help you make those difficult decisions: very simply, buy the cheapest option and you'll have something new that you like, and you're looking after the pennies too. You can't really argue with that logic.

#6 If you can't choose between two things, buy the cheapest one

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10 Oct 2010

My mother advises that tea leaves require boiling water, but if you pour water from the kettle into a cold teapot, the tea pot will quickly absorb the heat. And that is bad.

So, pour a little boiling water into the kettle (before you put the teabag in, obviously...), swish it around and pour out. Then, make your tea as usual. Doing this has the added advantage of a) rinsing the pot after its previous use, assuming you are not an obsessive teapot cleaner, and b) keeping the tea just that bit warmer for that bit longer (and you can always add a tea cosy!). Chin chin.

#5 Warm the teapot first

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3 Oct 2010

This one is not so much a tip from my mother, but more a lesson learnt (in fact, she wasn't even in the same city).  Consider me and my boyfriend in his new student pad faced with a pile of dirty plates and the choice of a washing up bowl or the luxury of a dishwasher but no dishwasher tablets. What could be the harm of replacing tablets with a squirt of washing up liquid?

Well, see above for the harm... Two lessons to learn from our mistake:
1) Washing up liquid in a dishwasher makes a LOT of bubbles
2) Drainage in a dishwasher (as we discovered) works in a cunning way - the water collecting at the bottom of the machine causes the plug to float, opening the drain. Once the water has gone below the correct level the plug re-inserts.

It turns out that bubbles don't allow the plug to float, resulting in much leaking and foaming. I assure you that the image above is a pretty accurate depiction of the damage. Cue half an hour of scooping bubbles off the floor and out of the machine and pouring water in to clear the suds (and much hilarity, admittedly). It can't have been good for the dishwasher.

In conclusion, if you have ever wondered if you can put washing up liquid in a dishwasher, you can't.
Learn from our mistakes.
Or prepare for an impromtu foam party...

#4 Never put washing up liquid in the dishwasher

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