Category Archives: Lifestyle

Becoming a vegetarian is one of the best life changes we can make

The following post is a guest post by Tom Bailey, an 18-year-old literary and political blogger. He writes on a variety of topics from music to politics on his own blog, where he also publishes his poems. His Twitter handle is @TomBaileyBlog

Over to Tom…

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There are hundreds of reasons for becoming a vegetarian: it’s cheaper, it’s healthier, and it’s undeniably a more humane way of life. But most importantly, it’s better for the world in which we live.

As Einstein explained, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” If Einstein said it, it must be true! But how can eating less meat save the planet? Well, let me explain.

The environmental impact of humanity’s insatiable carnivorousness is undeniable: according to a study by Goodland and Anhang, livestock and their byproducts produce an estimated 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year, equating to 51% of annual worldwide Greenhouse Gas emissions.

That means meat production produces more Greenhouse Gas than all other sources put together! Want to reduce your Carbon footprint? Cut down on your meat!

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Beyond Drying Up: Six Alternative Uses for a Tea Towel

We’ve previously discussed the many uses of a tea towel beyond drying the dishes. But several of our customers have since come up with more adventurous ideas. Alternative applications for the humble tea towel have in fact existed since the rise of its initial popularity in the 18th century as a tool to dry the bone china dish sets of the English upper classes.

Here we give a rundown of a few more ‘radical’ uses for the kitchen tea towel:

  1. As a shepherd’s head dress in your child’s nativity play

Normally better to use a striped or cross-hatch design for this one… unless these shepherds are devotees of the anarcho-syndicalist movement, of course.

  1. As a flag at a demonstration

Shepherd or not, there’s nothing preventing you from attaching your tea towel to a stick and using it as an alternative to those socialist worker placards at your typical demonstration.

  1. As a canvas for your next Van Gogh imitation

Strapped for cash and unable to get his brother Theo to send him more canvas quickly enough, Van Gogh resorted to the tea towel as a base for his creative genius. Some tea towel paintings date from Van Gogh’s time in the mental asylum at Saint-Paul-de-Mausole in Saint Rémy de Provence, and it is speculated they came from the asylum’s kitchen. Later works were painted on tea towels with a red border, possibly from the kitchen of the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers, the small village to the north of Paris where Van Gogh spent the last two months of his life before shooting himself.

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How To Wash Tea Towels: The Definitive Guide

Sadly no one (even us) has yet invented a self-cleaning tea towel, so just like cloths, hand and bath towels, they still need washing to avoid smelly bacteria and remove stains. We’ve previously written about how to wash and take care of your tea towels, and have decided to update our advice given the apparent popularity of this subject!Laundry room image

Pre-Use Washing

Brand new towels of any kind are not that absorbent, due to excess dye and oils left over from the manufacturing process. We therefore recommend washing your tea towels in warm water before use.

You’re best off washing any colourful tea towels independently of other items the first time round, in case the colours run. Using a little diluted white vinegar in this initial wash can also help make your tea towels more absorbent.

Stain Removal

Particularly bad stains are best treated with a clothing stain remover beforehand, but your regular detergent should work for the most part. You can just chuck cotton and linen tea towels in with the rest of the washing machine load – hand washing isn’t really necessary.

A hot temperature (40 degrees plus) is fine for white tea towels, but for coloured ones, we recommended you stick to the 30-40 degree range for the best balance between killing off bacteria and maintaining the colour. Using a biological washing powder should ensure a thorough clean at these medium temperatures.

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Should I Rinse My Dishes After Washing Them By Hand?

Whether you use a dishwasher or do it by hand, nothing is more likely to provoke arguments than the hundred and one ways of doing the washing up. Disagreements may centre on whether, after washing the dishes with detergent, you should simply dry them with a tea towel (suds and all); leave them to drain until the suds disappear; or rinse them by re-filling the sink with fresh water or running water over them from the tap or a jug.

There are no right answers to these questions and much of it boils down to practicality, habit, personal or cultural preference.

What is not controversial is that things have moved on so much since the days when the washing up was done in a single pot sink with traditional hot and cold taps, limited hot water and a tiny draining board. And this has made the rinsing option much easier. Continue reading

Up Against the Wall: Framed Tea Towels Gallery

Since we started out, many people have come to the conclusion that our radical tea towels are just as good up against the wall as on the draining board.

Apparently, you can get some decent frames cheaply from IKEA that don’t do a bad job of fitting the tea towels, which measure approximately 48cm wide by 76cm in length (the half panama cotton ones are slightly shorter at 73cm length).

At one point we thought about offering a framing service at the checkout stage on the website, but decided we’d probably be better concentrating on making tea towels than cutting chunks of wood and going about the float glass process.

The pictures below aren’t the first examples of tea towels being used for wall-hung art. Late in his career, an impoverished Van Gogh often ran out of conventional and expensive canvas, and had to think of alternative bases for his paintings. A still life with flowers by Van Gogh, painted on a tea towel, sold for £2.1 million at auction in 2000.

Who knows, perhaps in the future radical tea towels will fetch such sums as rare artefacts from the early 21st century!

Here’s a selection of a few we’ve received via Twitter: Continue reading

Washing Up Hacks to Save Water

Washing up needn’t be something you hate! You can see it as a calming routine which forces you to detach from the usual electronic stimulants and daily distractions. And while you’re at it, why not make it a goal to cut down on water wastage too?

1. Use a large plastic bowl within the sink to save about half the volume of water necessary to fill an empty sink. This also saves you time!

Plastic bowl

2. Make the water as hot as possible, using gloves to avoid burning yourself. The hot water will make it a lot easier to remove tough stains quickly.

Gloves

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How To Talk Politics When You Don’t Know Much About It

Ask anyone’s advice on having a good conversation with someone you’ve just met, and they’re sure to advise you to steer clear of the danger topics of politics, religion and Paris Hilton. Well, that’s ok because you’re not really interested in politics anyway and would rather stick to less controversial topics like the health benefits of tea (oh yeah and Scottish independence, right?).

Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton: she’d know what to say. Photo credit: Glenn Francis

But what if it’s not you making that choice? You’ve just met your girlfriend’s father, and he insists on rabbiting on about how President Obama faked Bin Laden’s death in order to distract from a nose job. How you handle these moments early on could make the difference between a healthy relationship with a new acquaintance or years of awkward water cooler conversation.

Here are a few tips to survive when you’re forced into a conversation about politics and you feel you have little to contribute. Continue reading