Friday, May 20, 2016

The Tip Towel

A friend sent me a slightly giddy Email saying that I was the first guest ever to use the guest towel in her powder room. The little terry towels half-way between wash cloth and face towel are mighty useful but hard to find now. A mentor very sensibly used them as table napkins for her family of six. I use line-dried linen luncheon napkins as tip towels in my powder room. Since there are no other towels in the room, people do use them.

Department stores marketed guest towels as tip towels, and I assumed the term referred to fingertips. Further consideration suggests the tip might be the tip one handed to a washroom attendant. Times have changed.

I inherited several generations of tip towels that no guest ever touched. I finally framed the most beautifully embroidered one and posted it by the sink. Few pleasures match that of drying one's hands on ironed linen. I believe guests avoid linen out of consideration for the person who irons. High-tech laundry systems sanitize towels without ironing, so go for it. Using an individual towel prevents cross-contamination.    -30-


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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Coat Equals Dress

A brief detour into the depths of the Oxford English Dictionary revealed the origin of the word coat. I was able to revive childhood memories of substantial woolen clothing simply by zipping on a Finnish coat cut from a flexible boiled wool knit. I live in the thing: it's a washable, street-legal bathrobe.

Fusing coat and dress shrinks wardrobe inventory, transforms tops and bottoms into underclothing, and simplifies the morning toilette. Add a rainproof poncho, and you're Seattle good to go.     -30-

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cleaning With A Tissue

The upstairs sink has never been scrubbed with abrasive cleaner. If I use the right cleaning products, I can get it sparkling with just a tuft of paper tissue. Neutral pH janitorial cleaner dissolves soap residue, and a slosh of white vinegar leaves the surface as bright as when it was installed. Rubbing alcohol sanitizes.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Coat Hook

After a gardening session I hung up my work clothes on one of the original coat hooks in the tiny vestibule leading to the servant's quarters in the attic. I remembered that the coat hook precedes the coat hanger as a storage device.

This 1890 house is a silent essay in the history of housekeeping, and the coat hooks say much about how the place was used. Some of the hooks are bent from heavy steel wire, others are cast brass. All of the hooks are located in the most convenient spot for changing clothes to change activities. I appreciate their elegant economy of space, materials, and time.
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Monday, May 16, 2016

Pest Control

Food, clothing, and shelter are the survival basics. A few years ago, the chief housekeeper for Seattle's public housing told me that shelter should be decent, safe, and sanitary.

Store all food in containers that rodents can't gnaw through and, incidentally, that insects can't breach. This is housekeeping task number one. Setting up correctly protects the food supply and prevents housekeeping hassles.

Fill storage containers over the sink. Discard over-aged staples while you're at it. Anything with a slightly rancid odor will take more from your body than it gives. Store bulky prepared mixes in a clean galvanized can with a lid.

Store food in a dark place to protect vitamins that are damaged by light.

Wash dishes promptly after a meal. Empty trash and recycling into vermin-proof containers. Wipe the cooking area with rubbing alcohol to de-grease and sanitize. Wash the trash containers and line them with plastic bags.

Serve food at the table and only at the table. Old-school table service and etiquette keep vermin at bay.

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More after the jump.