August 24, 2015

A Beginner Sews: Napkins

My favourite part about cooking dinner every night for my little family (basically me and the Englishman so far) is setting the table. No, it's not slicing the carrots or boiling the potatoes or whatever else, I have to do to get us a healthy, hearty dish for supper. It's the five minutes I spend decorating the table, arranging the napkins and placing the cutlery.

Usually, only to find everything destroyed five minutes after serving and despite the Englishman's regular complaints about the "unnecessary" use of paper napkins, as it's "only" dinner (his words not mine, obviously!) while wiping his beard from gravy sauce.

I love a good, wholesome meal. I think it’s important to eat as much home-cooked, fresh food as possible and that usually means someone (me) has to make it. However, I don’t enjoy it. I don’t hate it either; it’s just more like a chore than a pleasure. Setting the table on the other hand is a pleasure and it makes the whole cooking so much more worthwhile. The Englishman might not realise, how he automatically puts his phone down, when sitting down at a nicely set out table or how much longer and more relaxed our conversations are. It’s the quality time that the set table sparks that makes me like the cooking, because there is nothing better than a good conversation over a good, hearty, healthy meal. And I really don’t mind providing that meal.

He is right though about the paper napkins. They are a bit of a problem, which is why I decided to make my own. It's more environmentally friendly and (of course) prettier. Win-win.

It's easy, too (triple win) and taught me a new skill: How to sew mitered corners. I mainly followed this tutorial (great photos!), but changed the dimensions to cm; so hop over to designmom or wiggle your way through my instructions.

Either way, happy sewing and Guten Appetit!



Napkins (40x40cm, standard size)

4x square fabric pieces (46cmx46xm)
Colour matching thread
Sewing machine
Scissors (Fabric and normal)
Iron & Iron Board

1. Wash, dry and iron your fabric. Sometimes fabric, especially linen, shrink, so that step is to make sure that the measurements are correct in the end.
2. With an iron, press a 1.5cm fold along one side of the square pieces then fold again and press.
3. Unfold the second fold, but leave the crease.
4. Repeat the previous two steps on all sides.
5. Fold all corners inwards so that the corner edges line up with the crease of the second fold and press the corners down.
6. Unfold the corners again and leave the crease.
7. Starting with once corner, fold the whole fabric backwards (right side inwards) so that the edges are lined up and the corner crease lies on top of itself.
8. Sew along the crease with a straight stitch.
9. Repeat the two steps with the three remaining corners.
10. Cut the corners off and press the remaining edges down (seams open).
11. Turn the napkin inside out, use a pen or point turner to push out the corners.
12. Press the edges down once more.
13. Then sew along the edge as close as possible to the inner fold.
14. Repeat steps 2 – 13 with the other three pieces of fabric.
15. Admire your neat, new napkins!


August 22, 2015


A weekly column featuring random wisdom gems, fun facts and school lessons re-discovered.
Today: Does Whiskey mature faster in hot weather?

Surinder Kumar says: Yes! And he should know, because he is master blender at the Amrut Distillery in India. His fine single malt may be the only single malt from India, but it’s Jim Murray-approved (who should know, because he is the world’s first full-time whiskey writer). Traditionally whiskeys in India are produced from fermented molasses instead of malt, but Amrut’s peated Indian whiskey is just like the whiskey they serve us in Scotland; distilled from the malt mash of one type of barley. It’s probably the hot, dry air in India that makes the drink mature three times faster than in Scotland.
You see, during the ageing process in the oak barrels some of the liquid is known to evaporate. They call it angel’s share as the loss makes the rest of the liquid taste much smoother. In Scotland it’s around 2% per year. In India however it is around 11-12%. Rounder taste much faster.

Other things I discovered this week:
There is no egg in egg cream!
Throw your apples on the bbq for a taste of Christmas in summer. (Oops, forgive the C-word).
For when the leaves are falling.

August 21, 2015

Nature In The Home | Mini Roses

Just around the corner of our house. Following the church tower towards the park. Only a few steps and then a right turn. There lies the most magical English street. It is lined with beautiful Edwardian terraced houses. The kind of houses that have generous bay windows, wonky front steps, elegant brass knobs and coloured front doors (I choose a new favourite every time I walk past.) It's a fairytail-kinda street, the one that makes you stop and smell the roses. Literally! Then aside from all the nice brick and big windows, the small front gardens are full of the proud bloom. There are big, dark bushes; tall, bright climbers and archways full of flowers that fill my evening wanders with heavy scents and colourful sights. The rose gardens are what makes this street. I dream of a future life, where I, aged and wise, spent my days with garden gloves and scissors tending to my many roses.

There is so much love and care in the look of a well maintained rose bush. It makes me weep. Unfortunately for me (and our neighbours), our little house lacks somewhat the front garden to grow roses of our own. However, there is always space on our windowsill, which is why I decided to fill them this August with an array of mini rose bushes.

I picked them up from our local grocer and for the last few weeks of summer, their glowing red blooms have been brightening up my days (and hopefully every ones who walked past). They are thirsty little fellas, but thanks to regular watering and feeding (I use a tsp of general plant feeder in my small watering can), they have been busy producing lots of little flowers. The wilted ones I keep deadheading with a pair of sharp scissors.

Come autumn I plan on re-potted them, as there are currently up to three cuttings in each pot. Then they will be separated, before I place them in our cooler outhouse to over-winter and maybe (hopefully) next spring our front garden has magically extended itself (or more likely we have moved) and I can plant them out. For now however, they are the pride of my windowsills.

What's brightening up your house this August?