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Taking Care of Your Gas Stove

Clean Kitchen

You’ve got to do more than clean up spills on the stove top and wipe your oven down once in awhile. Sure, basic maintenance is critical, but you can’t neglect the elbow grease on those built-up stains, peppered with some regular TLC. This essential kitchen appliance needs regular maintenance to stay in tip-top shape. Better Homes and Gardens says gas and electricity ranges are the most common types of residential ovens, with gas ranges better for precisely controlling temperatures. Gas ovens are also generally more affordable than their electric counterparts. This cleaning regimen is even more critical when you have designer outdoor kitchens in Houston.

Keeping up with Everyday Spills

Never take an abrasive sponge to your stovetop, as you risk making small scratches that can damage the surface, says Reader’s Digest. Instead, use damp soft cloths and clean up the spills as they happen. If you let pasta sauce dry and harden, you’ll have a much harder time scrubbing at it. To make it easy on yourself, clean up the stove top every time you use it, such as after supper. If you’ve neglected a spill and it’s already baked on, use a simple mixture of dishwashing liquid, warm water and white vinegar, and gently scrub with a cloth or sponge.

Putting English Stereotypes to Bed

The other day I read this line in a travel blog from someone who has just moved to England: “Before I went to England I thought that they had the worst food in Europe. Because that’s what everyone always says.” Who started this rumour? This may actually annoy me more than the whole ‘London is the only city in England worth visiting’ ridiculousness.

I know we all do it. We stereotype without even really realising we are doing it. From an early age we judge people and places on first impressions or from tales passed down to us by others. No matter how hard we try to fight against them, we do unfortunately sometimes discover them to be true.

Maybe I have been oblivious to it for so long, but it has only really been in the last year or so that I have realised how many misconceptions people have about England, the people who live here, the culture and the food. I actually found it quite shocking. And yet, if I was to be brutally honest with myself, I have done it with other countries in the past and I feel ashamed for that.

If you are thinking of coming to England and are worried about brushing up on your Queen’s English because you won’t be able to understand anyone, then push your fears aside and read my guide to some of the most inaccurate English stereotypes.

Making Your Living Room Even More Interesting

Living Room

Has your living room been looking blah and outdated lately? Does it lack interest and has it become plain old boring? Well, the fact that you can recognize this is the first step to recovery. The next step is to brainstorm ways to make this room really pop. You may be surprised to know it’s not always about decor and design. You may just need to add in some fun elements, such as games or other things that bring people together.

Color

While you don’t want to go too crazy in the color department, you definitely don’t want a room devoid of brightness. The best way to achieve this is to have a base of earth tones, such as classic beige, off-white or coffee. The key is to add pops of color to those basics through maroons, greens, blues and even purples in the form of throw pillows, accent rugs, paintings and lamp shades.

10 Things You Should Know Before Travelling to Vietnam

The facilities are good, use them

Before I got to Vietnam I had visions of squat toilets all over the country, like that of many other South East Asian destinations and so steeled myself for having to ‘hover’ on a regular basis.

This turned out to be a misconception and the only squat toilet I encountered was at a service station at the side of the road. Apart from this, the plumbing tends to work in much a similar way to Greece: don’t block the pipes by flushing the toilet paper down; instead use the bin provided and everything will be fine.

As with anywhere in Asia, arm yourself with plenty of tissues and antibacterial gel in case you’re caught short with no supplies. You may also be charged to use toilets if they are situated at popular tourist sites. Don’t be cheap and think you can get away with paying the minimum price unless you are male and are used to using public urinals. I made this mistake and was shown to an exposed toilet bowl with no door that could be seen from the street!

It WILL rain – there’s no best time to visit Vietnam

If you are travelling from one end of the country to the other, it will rain at some point during your trip. The seasons vary throughout the country and I encountered rain in both Hoi An and Hue. Even though it was still warm, the rain was heavy at times, but don’t let it dampen your fun.

Ponchos can be bought for a minimal price when you are there (the thinner plastic ones are good just for walking around whereas you should invest in the thicker, longer ones if you’re planning on riding motorbikes and cycles a lot).

Also, don’t bother packing an umbrella – it just adds to your baggage weight and even the lowest class of hotels tend to offer them free in the rooms. Note –  Make sure you return the umbrellas before you leave as you will be charged for them otherwise.

The trains never run on time

Once you’ve spent a few days in Vietnam you’ll realise that the Vietnamese are a laid-back people, who are never in a rush to get anywhere. This translates to their public transport system also.

Having used a few sleeper trains during my stay, it became custom to never expect to arrive at your destination at the intended time, even if you had set off within an hour of your departure time. Just go with the flow and be ready and alert to leave the train at your station when you arrive because they don’t hang around for long and you never know where you might end up if you have to stay on the train until the next stop.