28 Nov 2010

Sometimes, when you're not thinking properly, you can do some daft things.
For my mother it went something like this:
sieve = wet... oven = warm... so sieve + oven --> dry sieve...?

Well, she was wrong. Sieve + oven = ruined sieve. Of course. At least the result was vaguely amusing (unlike the time she tossed the oven gloves on top of the oven, and the gas hob was still on...)

So next time you have a kitchen related stroke of genius, just pause for a moment to consider the consequences.

#14 Don't put your plastic sieve in the oven

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24 Nov 2010

You know the feeling - dreading getting out of the nice warm shower into the cold air, shivering and wet. Especially this time of year.

Well, this is a simple trick I have used pretty much everyday since my mother taught me. It's easy; you may do it without realising...

When you step out the shower, grab your towel and quickly rub once all over to get rid of surface water. Then - this is the important bit - turn your towel inside out so you have the dry side against your skin (Can you turn a towel inside out? Well, you know what I mean). It's worth the manic quick-dry, because the towel actually feels warm when you turn in inside out.

Yet again, so simple, but so true. Try it.

#13 How to stay warm after a shower

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20 Nov 2010

When my sisters and I were young, our birthday parties were epic adventures in which our living room and playroom were transformed into other worlds, and the games followed intricate plots. I had a Pirate Party, a Princess Party and a Puzzle Party (they didn't all have to begin with 'P'.  I had Egypt as well...).

The centrepiece of each party was the food, also carefully themed and labelled. And the centrepiece of the food was always the cake; the cake, always to the same recipe, and always delicious. No shop-bought Victoria Sponge for us, and no fondant icing either. The chocolate cake appeared in many forms - a pirate chest, a swimming pool, and once a magnificent dragon. But at its heart it was always the chocolate cake.

We still make in now - my sister is partial to making it as a gift for friends. The page of my mum's recipe book on which she has written the instructions is filthy.

I'm going decipher the smudges on the page and share it with you too (excuse old fashioned weights... deal with it, it's worth it):

To see the recipe click "read more"...

#12 The recipe for the best chocolate birthday cake

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16 Nov 2010

Before I explain the reasoning behind this particular "rule", I would like to add a brief disclaimer that I don't necessarily agree with this wisdom. My mother would probably like me to point out that it doesn't come from her either; this particular gem came straight from the mouth of my Nan (and grandmothers' have their funny ways, right?)

So, why should you never wear shoes with an ankle strap? Because, apparently, it will make you look like a lady of the night...

The reasoning is more than a little dubious, and I'm sure it made us laugh when she said it.

It doesn't stop me remembering it every time I try on a pair of ankle-strap shoes, though.

#11 Never wear shoes with an ankle-strap

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13 Nov 2010

This is really a tip for anyone involved in the technical side of theatre/music etc. (an industry that both of my parents know well) but you never know when it might come in useful.

So, you're having to clear away some cables that have been stuck to the floor with gaffer tape. Take a moment, and think. It may seem like a short cut to pull cable and tape up together, but do so at your peril. The two sides of the tape will stick together, and you'll spend hours (probably) trying to get the tape off.

Never say the things my mother taught me aren't varied...

(On cable related topics, I was once taught by a BBC technician how to properly wind electrical cables. Knowing how to do this, he assured me, would allow me to impress and therefore ingratiate myself with any technical staff I had to work with. And it's never a bad thing to have the tech crew on side. I was a sceptic, probably like you - how important can cables be? But he was right; on at least two separate occasions I have revealed this knowledge to techies who have been so impressed I even know that there is a specific technique that they invited me to join the crew.
So what is the secret? Well, I'm not going to tell you, it's far to valuable...)

#10 When removing gaffered-down electrical cables, remove the gaffer tape first

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6 Nov 2010

Here is a handy little hint that we all use in my family.

The next time that you are struggling to open a new jam jar (or a jar of marmalade, or pickle, or whatever takes your fancy, of course) grab a teaspoon. With the back of the spoon, give the rim of the lid a few strong taps. The lid should come off easy as anything.

My mother assures me she has used this technique to open jars that had previously defeated the strongest of men.

I've not done any scientific research, but it seems to work!

#9 How to open a jam jar

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