Thursday, 14 August 2008

Lavender dreams... and cotton luxury?

I have recrntly started to read a book called 'Home Comforts' which is a classic home-keeping book. I am far from the traditional homekeeper, so I was interested to learn more - you know, the questions you *can't* ask anyone else as you want to seem like you know it already... and I should, really!

Anyway, I rented it from my local library, and have it for at least 3 weeks. The chapters are all clearly defined and although I have skipped some (as they are not relevant to our small flat), I can see it being a valable resource so may try to see if I can buy it sometime as an investment. I was given Delia's 'black' basic recipe book on that basis too and have found it extremely helpful.

The main thing I was interested to read today was about the importance of the right bed linen. We have never spent that much, often going on price rather than anything else, as you often wash and replace that I have found a few fitted sheets do us fine, having lasted several years. But it has made me re-think this - are our sheets that great at £5.99?

I find one is too thin and I hate having to use it (in fact I generally leave it til last if I can) as it is skinny, scratchy as a result and I could feel the matttress underneath. Even last year when we invested in a matress protector (from Argos, around £7 I think), we still find it our least favourite. This has happened with a duvet cover too, which has gradually lost colour and is less soft than I would ideally like, regardless of adding any softener to the wash. However, I should add that it must be 3 years old now - or is that just me being a modern consumer and not expecting it to last more than that?

For Summer we mostly use cotton (a mix of cotton and poly) like most folks, then in Winter I like flanelette.

So now that Summer seems to have deserted us here in the UK, I am wondering if now is the time to try and find some bargains for next Summer's bedding, as what we currently have will do us fine for now.

It might be that Egyptian cotton really is worth the hype, I don't know, but that's probably where I will start researching. It seems that a set for a double bed can be bought for around £25 - including the fitted sheet, flat sheet and 2 pillow cases.

However, then there are the different 'levels' - 180, or 400 threads per inch? It's a minefield! Anyone with any thoughts on this please do share them, as I'd love to treat us to something new but don't want to spend too much, or in contrast, too little on something that is near-enough what we already have.

In the meantime, I have followed the book's advice on airing the bed all day whilst I am at work. I have pulled back the covers fully and opened our window at the top as far as it will go.

I also have a lavender spray that I made with water and a few drops of essential oil. I keep this by the bed for nights when I cannot sleep of just need something soothing or refreshing to help feel sleepy and relaxed. This is also good lightly sprayed in the air above the bed to freshen things up until the next wash.


Jo said...


Tesco have some of their more expensive cotton bed linen on offer in their summer sale. I've just bought a sheet to try and I paid the same for my cotton one as they were charging for polycotton.

I've never tried Egyptian cotton but I understand that the better quality ones have more threads to the inch - so go for 400 rather than anything less.

I've made bread again today and a double batch of cake (one for the freezer). I also made scones and a quiche and popped some potatoes in the oven to bake at the same time. My husband was well pleased although I was at pains to point out that it was not all for now and some was intended for the freezer...

SGist said...

Hi Jo - wow I will have to remember Tesco for next time as it never crossed my mind to look at what they may have. I have now bought one from TK Maxx as you will see from the latest Blog entry - £9.99 is quite a bargain, we'll see what it feels like and can then decide whether to get more as TKMaxx also had one in cream. It's pima cotton and 350 thread count, feels very nice indeed.

We sadly have made no bread this weekend as we never found the loaf tin my hubby wants - hoping to do some next weekend as well as come batch cooking. I have a couple of great recipes that we love, to share with everyobe on here. Maybe that will be one of the blogs for next week. Have a lovely Sunday and enjoy your bread and quiche - BTW if you want to share the quiche recipe I'd love to try to make one!

Jo said...

Quiche "recipe" is a bit of a grand name for what it was. I lined a 20cm sandwich tin with shortcrust pastry - 100g plain flour to 50g fat. Than I chopped a very large mushroom up small, chopped about 40g of bacon up small, sliced up thinly one extremely small leek, sliced a tomato up neatly for decoration and chopped up the ends and the slice where the knife slipped - and layered them in the pastry case. I sprinkled on about 25g of grated cheese left from the previous night's dinner. Then I beat up 2 eggs in a measuring jug and topped them up to half a pint with milk, added a large pinch of mixed herbs and poured it over the things in the pastry case. I put the slices of tomato on top and grated a touch of black pepper over everything and put it in the middle of the oven at gas mark 4 (350'F) for 30-40 minutes until the middle is set. I decided to make quiche and then looked in the fridge to see what we had that I could use. That has done the two of us twice - once hot with potatoes and veg and once cold with salad. Definitely frugal! Although you can make it quite expensive depending on what you choose to put in. Quiche is always tasty and looks good with a bit of tomato on top or has something like spinach in that has a definite colour. I also like the bit when you heat the oven up once and it lasts for two meals...

You don't need a special tin for making bread. If you are buying tins because you don't have any then I would recommend two x 2 lb tins. Then you can make to loaves and put one in the freezer and you've only heated the oven up once. Also, it is a good size for meatloaves or for cakes. I like multipurpose!

SGist said...

Hi Jo - mmmm, maybe I will brave making my own quiche now then, sounds yummy! I bought one for £1.50 in Sommerfield yesterday (on a deal) - how much do you think your homemade one cost in comparison?

Jo said...

plain flour .03
marg .08
mushroom .20
bacon .12
tomato .10
leek .10
cheese .13
2 eggs .30
1/4 pint milk .08
pinch mixed herbs - negligible

Total for LARGE quiche £1.14

This was a 20 cms quiche which would be 4 large portions for us with a salad or 6 medium portions if eaten with bread or some form of potato. In the end, mine did one meal hot with potatoes and veg, one meal cold with salad and bread and one little piece each for lunch.

You could shave the price down by using powdered milk instead of fresh (I buy our fresh at £1.20 for 4 pints at Somerfield),onion instead of leek, value eggs if you don't mind them, less mushroom, cheese bought on offer etc. The things I used were partly the items that needed used up from the fridge. The bacon was from a Tesco cooking bacon scraps pack. When I buy this bacon, I always sort the pack out because there are usually some rashers in the pack which are simply a bit on the short side and I keep them aside. For that price - I just don't mind that the rashers are a bit short! Half of the remainder of the pack gets put in the freezer and the rest is used up to flavour things like quiche or onion, bacon and potato hotpot in the winter or a sauce with pasta or rice.

Have a go! It is easy, really. Quiche turns out different every time depending on what you've put in it and that is part of its charm. Guests think you are very clever if you serve them homemade quiche. Don't disillusion them!

Jo :)

Anonymous said...

I would recommend 100% cotton over polycotton. My mum's had some of her sheets for over 30 years! When they werar out they make excellent rags for cleaning windows etc.
Polycotton is rubbish for cleaning as the polyester isn't absorbent.


SGist said...

Thanks A, will definately keep that in mind as I have stopped buying paper towels so we'll be a rags household from now on!