household

Welcoming in the cooler weather

Summer is fast disappearing behind us and doors and windows will be shut a little more in the coming months. So here are some tips on keeping your home from feeling stuffy. 

The number one thing to do is get your radiators ready for warming up (see here). This small and easy task will stop the dust that has accumulated over the warmer months from being heated up and then permeating a rather nasty smell though the house. If you have lavender bags, you can hang these on the radiators in readiness for the warmth to infuse around your home. 

It is also a great time to get rid of the spiders that have moved into the windows over the warmer months. A quick dust off and clean with a eucalyptus room spray will do the trick. 

Lounge chairs can also be dust collectors so remove all of the cushions and sprinkle the underside with a mix of bicarb soda and your favourite essential oil. Leave this for an hour and then vacuum up the dust. The bicarb soda will work as an odour-eater and the essential oil will leave everything smelling fresh. This job can be done a couple of times over the colder months. 

It may also be time to have the chimney swept, or to have your gas fire checked by a professional. It would be disappointing to snuggle down with a good book or film by the fire only to find a problem, so best get this sorted out early. 

I also like to leave a jar of bicarb soda with the lid off at the back of draws and cupboards. These absorb any damp that might sneak in and if you add some essential oils they will gradually release these into the air over time. If you have small children or animals it will be best to put the bicarb soda into a jar with a few holes in the top just to be sure no fingers or paws end up exploring. 

It may also be time to bring out some dried or silk flowers as the fresh season draws to a close. Or a basket of freshly collected pine cones with lots of essential oils sprinkled over them placed in the lounge by the fire. 

These little touches will help keep your home snug and smelling lovely when you do not have as much fresh air filling your home every day. 

A room spray at this time of year will also work wonders. Again, your choice of essential oils will ensure your home is perfect for when the cold arrives. 

outside

Cleaning up leaves in Autumn

October and November are truly stunning as the leaves turn rust red and orange. This is the time for hot drinks and walks in the garden kicking up the leaves with the kids and the dog!

But eventually, these leaves will turn a sludgy brown and will be trampled into the house unless they are cleaned up. Not the best job in the world.

This blog is for the lazy people who hate raking up leaves. My advice is: don't. Use your lawnmower as a garden vacuum cleaner.

I use mine with the catcher bucket on, then mow or "vacuum" all over the lawn and the garden path to pick up leaves that have fallen. This has two advantages. The first is most of the leaves will be removed this way so raking will become a thing of the past. Secondly, the lawn mower will chop the leaves into fine pieces so you will fit much more into the garden waste bin. Or alternatively, just deposit the mulch evenly over the garden beds to protect the plants from Winter frosts.

The leaf mulch will also break down and absorb back into the soil. Given the leaves are now cut into tiny pieces they will be less likely to be blown by the wind back onto the lawn or onto the path. 

No you can enjoy the Autumn without spending hours with the rake. 
 

laundry

The lost sock laundry tip

If, like me, you have a seemingly genetic inability to wash socks and get the same number out that went in, then I share your pain. I have had this problem my entire life. 

That was until a good friend of mine taught me a lovely trick which works quite well, most of the time.

Get everyone in the house to put their socks into the laundry basket tucked into a ball together, then they will not get lost behind the washing basket or under their beds. This is a bit of a group effort, so unless everyone joins in you may still have multiple odd socks hanging about the house. But it is worth a try. 

Good luck!

household, kitchen

How to grow herbs in the kitchen

Have you ever bought herbs, plonked them in a pot on the window sill, watered them lovingly, only to have them die shortly after they arrive home? I absolutely understand.

If you have experienced this, then like me, you are probably not looking after them correctly. However, I have found a new way to keep your kitchen herbs happy and thriving, and producing delicious leaves.

You will need a plant pot that can be watered from the bottom, essentially a pot that stands in a tray. Herbs seem to be much happier if you put water into the dish at the bottom of the pot and let them draw up the water that they need. It is also a good idea to have them near a window so they can blow in the breeze. A little light wind will help strengthen their stems and make a healthier plant. A small water spray next to the plants for the odd leaf spray will be a good idea too. You can even use one of your empty Gyre and Gymble glass sprays. Just remove the electrostatic label so you will know it is a water spray. I like to mark mine "H20" with a whiteboard marker. 

Since learning this technique, I have had a basil, mint and parsley growing well for a couple of months. They also give me lots of fresh leaves for cooking. 

I know this is not a cleaning tip as such, but I was so delighted to learn about this I wanted to share it with everyone. Good luck and happy healthy herb growing!

How to clean the BBQ

Summer is on the way and it is time to eat outside, but the BBQ might be a bit scary from last year, and it now undoubtedly needs a good clean. This is a sure way to get it ready without using any harsh chemicals.

Recipe

  • A very hot BBQ
  • Salt
  • Water 
  • Paper towel 
  • Metal scraper
  • Aluminum foil 

Before you place food on the BBQ to cook, turn it on until it is very, very hot. Get it up to as hot as it will go, and if your BBQ has a lid place this down until it starts to smoke. If using coals, this may need to be done a little earlier so it will be able to cool a little before you throw on the steak and sausages. 

Once the BBQ is smoking, sprinkle on some salt and then slowly add water to the surface. A spray bottle can be helpful here. Take care that this water does not splash as it will be super hot once it hits the BBQ plate.

As the water bubbles off use a BBQ scraper to clean the BBQ top. If there is a lot of burnt-on mess in between the metal, you can also scrunch up some aluminium foil into a ball. Then, using an oven glove to hold it press it to mould around the metal grill rods, and just rub it over. The foil should knock any burnt-on mess onto the drip tray below. Once done, remove any left overs with the paper towel and hey presto, you will be ready to cook food again.

The drip tray can get awfully messy, so if you want to save time, line this with aluminium foil and place clean sand on top of this each year. You should really only need to do this about once a year, and the sand only needs to be about 1cm think.