Tipping Traps

Tipping fairly is one thing, but paying more than you think you are with a tip is quite another.
When it comes to tipping, beware of the words: “for your convenience.” If you see them on your final bill, you might want to take a closer look. While you are at it, whip out your calculator to run your own numbers.
Take room service, for example. They innocently leave the ‘tip’ line open, hoping that you will not notice the already included 18 percent gratuity, plus the additional £1.92 to £2.55 room service fee or tray charge.
As a result, absent-minded guests will often add a tip on top of the tip, effectively tipping 40 percent or more.
Tricky, huh?
I find that asking for extra tip, as if these charges did not exist, is unethical and deceiving.
But hotels are not alone. Restaurants are adding tips to their final bills, too. When the time arrived to present and pay the bill before you reach for your wallet to extract the trusted credit card, watch the waiter removed a small device from his belt designed to scan the credit card, authorise use for payment through a touch screen and print a small receipt at your table.


Not so impressive was that it added for his “convenience “, on-screen prompts for gratuities at 15 percent, 18 percent and 20 percent.
Over time, a penny or two could really add up to a business that does a lot of transactions. But maybe more troubling, a system like this could easily be manipulated to pull the old room service trick.
How do you avoid tipping trouble?
Watch for words like “for your convenience” which usually means they have done some funny maths.
Another tip (sorry, could not resist) is to run the numbers yourself. It takes a few extra seconds, but it ensures you are not allowing yourself to be ripped off.

Protect Your Bottle


Buffer breakables in a suitcase by placing delicate items, such as wine bottles and precious trinkets, inside an inflated arm band, and it will shield against bumps, bruises, and breaks.

Fishy Business

When you are buying fish, it is important to make sure your fish smells like the sea, and not, well, like fish. That is one indicator of freshness.


However, after the fish has come home, gone into the fridge, or been frozen and thawed, even your freshly bought fish may start to take on a fishy smell. The solution is easy: A twenty minute soak in a bowl of milk, then pat it dry and that fishy smell is all gone.
If this all sounds a bit bizarre then take a look at the video below and you will get an explanation of why fish smells like fish.

Dog In A Spin

Cooking a hot dog is not rocket science, but making that hot dog something really special can be trickier than loading it up with toppings. By giving your hot dog a quick spiral cut before putting it on the grill, It will cook up perfectly straight, you boost the surface area so you get more of that nice grilled flavour, and once it's on the bun there are plenty of nooks and crannies for relish and other toppings to fit into.


It turns out the spiral cut is really simple. You just skewer the hot dog, hold your knife at an angle, and roll it away from you under the knife. Take the dog off of the skewer and drop it on the grill. One of the benefits of the spiral cut is that the hot dog will cook up perfectly straight, and you will not have to worry about it curling up, the skin ripping, or it cooking unevenly. Every tiny corner of the dog will cook up with that nice, caramelised flavour that makes grilling so delicious.

Dishwasher Safe

If you are one of the lucky ones like me, then your dishwasher has a smaller grid work that far less items fall through, but for those of you who do not have this luxury, I dare say the bain of your life is forever bending down to pick you items that have fallen to the bottom of the dishwasher, or even worse the item got wedged between the cage and the rotating blades, only to find it has stopped your dishwasher from doing the job properly.
Fear not as this solution ends that very problem for less than a few pounds.
Keep mini Tupperware lids, baby-bottle caps, and other small items from falling through the dishwasher rack with a laundry drawstring mesh bag. Gone are the days of diving for treasure on the floor of the dishwasher.



We have all been to Ikea at some point and noticed how they love to sell you items that store just about anything and because most of the time they are so cheap and open to your own style of decoration they are so truly versatile.
Have you ever come across the Knuff magazine file storage boxes, they come in pack of two and they are less than £7, they are untreated wood; can be treated with oil, paint or you could even decoupage them for a personal touch.


But if you look at them from a different perspective then they can be a whole lot more than just a magazine filling system, it could even be your very own ‘Vide Poche’.
A ‘vide poche’, is french for ‘empty pockets’, and normally it is essentially an empty bowl or container near the door that you empty your pockets in when you get into the house. You would place you stash your keys, office access badge, spare change, mobile phone and all of your other odds and ends in one place so you do not scatter them around the house, and can find them quickly on the way back out. Now with a bowl you would need somewhere to house it, but with this idea it is your vide poche and shelf in one.
To create this quite wonderful and yet simple bit of kit then your need to do the following:

1) paint, stain or decoupage your magazine holder (or leave it plain).
2) pre-drill two holes for the screws and mark your wall where the screws will go, making sure they are level.
3) mount your box to the wall, using washers so the screw heads do not sink too far into the wood.
4) if you have got a wall socket nearby then you can even charge your mobile phone or iPod by putting the cord through the hole in the box.

And there you have, your very own ex Ikea magazine organiser now serving its purpose as a ‘Vide Poche’.


Shower Cap vs. Food Wrap

Does anyone still use the shower caps that you get free along with your other toiletries in your hotel room? Well, I dare say some people do and my guess is, it is the business women.
Well, with this little handy tip for the chefs amongst us, those often deserted shower caps now can come in handy. Wives pay close attention to this one if your man is away on business a lot because he is going to be your source for these handy little plastic packets.


So here is how that shower cap comes in handy, not only because they are cheap and reusable, and definitely more manoeuvrable than plastic wrap, especially when you have a large container to cover and you find yourself struggling with multiple sheets sticking to one another.
But if you are staying in hotel rooms a lot they are also available in an abundance.