French Country Home Decorating on a Budget
If you've flipped through a decorating magazine or watched a home decor show lately, you've noted that French Country is the latest decorating craze.
What is French Country Decor?
French Country emulates the style you might find in a cottage in rural France. Popular elements include rooster motifs, wrought iron furnishings sporting elegant, whimsical curves, and plastered-surface walls washed in butter-yellow paint. The sleekness of a primitive farm table, for instance, could be softened up with a curvy iron chandelier. Rough, exposed ceiling beams and aged terra cotta or brick tiles on the floor complete the look.
A home filled with genuine French furnishings and accessories would be beautiful, but incompatible with modest household budgets. Instead, here a few ways to bring a little more Provence into your home without spending a fortune.
Place an inexpensive, wrought iron bench in the foyer decorated with romantic throw pillows. (To age a new iron piece, you can purchase spray-on rust treatments at home improvement stores.)
Wallpaper a dining room (from the chair rail up) with a classic design, like black and white toile.
Add lace panel curtains on windows where absolute cover for privacy is not required.
Paint with French hues like mustard, celadon, salmon pink or cornflower blue.
Add inexpensive accessories, such as a black iron wall planter in the bathroom to hold hand towels.
Whitewash old ladderback chairs.
Paint cabinets and rag over them with a glaze. This works nicely with a base coat of cream paint, brushed over lightly with a mocha-brown glaze.
Suspend a pot rack from the kitchen ceiling to hang pots and pans, especially if they're copper.
Tips For The Home
House Painting Tips
If you are painting and have to use a second paint of coat on a wall for the next day, put your paint roller, and rolling pan in a trash bag. Then freeze it. You won't have to do any clean up on them that night. The next day when you have to paint, just let it defrost and paint away.
Take a hammer and nail and poke four small holes on the rim of the paint can. All the paint will drain right back to the can. Less mess and the lid will not stick.
If you are painting from the can, put a large rubber band or string across the middle. Just wipe your brush on that, no paint drips on the side of the can to worry about.
Don't use masking tape on the windows when you are painting by the glass part of the window frames. Use strips of wet newspaper. They stick great. Just make sure to remove them before they dry. They are easier to remove that way.
Also if you are painting cabinet doors and don't want them to stick to the frame of the cabinet, clip a clothespin at the bottom of the door. It helps keep the door open enough so it won't stick. Sure there will be a tiny spot at the bottom, but that is easy enough to touch up when everything else is dry.
Cleaning Gas Grills
Gas grills can get messy pretty quickly, but they're not too hard to clean. Materials needed:
Large plastic tub half filled with soapy water Plastic spatula Nylon pads Plastic scouring pad Grill brushes, made with soft metal such as brass New lava rocks Wet/dry shop vacuum cleaner
Before you start cleaning a gas grill, disconnect and remove the gas canister. This makes the cleaning job both easier and safer. Remove the main grills and place them in a large tub of soapy water. Allow them to soak for an hour or so. Remove the upper racks and soak them too. Remove and discard the lava rocks. They lose their effectiveness after a year or two as they're covered with grease drippings.
Take out the lava-rock rack and soak it with the grills. If the rack is rusty, you may need to replace it.
If the grill has a drip guard that prevents grease from getting onto the burners, it probably needs cleaning too. Lift it out and place it in the tub. Use a spatula to scrape burnt-on grease from the inner walls of the grill. Use a wet/dry shop vacuum cleaner to remove the rest of the rocks, food particles and other debris from inside the grill.
Now that you've removed everything from the grill cabinet, inspect the burner and the cabinet body. If the burner appears damaged, replace it. If you notice rust in the cabinet, don't paint it, spread vegetable oil over it. The heat from the grill will bake the oil into the rust and prevent it from spreading.
After the grills, rack and burner cover have soaked for an hour or so, remove them from the tub, and scrub them to remove baked-on grease. You can use a metal grill-cleaning brush on stainless-steel grills, but porcelain grills should be cleaned with plastic or nylon scouring pads: metal brushes could scratch the finish.
If the grills are rusty, replace them. Consider a stainless steel or porcelain-finish grill, which won't rust and is easy to clean.
When you're done cleaning, reassemble the grill. Protect the grill from the elements with a grill cover.
Great Uses for Coffee Filters
If you have cork pieces floating in a bottle of wine, run the wine through a sieve lined with a coffee filter.
Separate your china dishes for safer storage: place a coffee filter between each dish. (I use paper plates for this when packing my good dishes for moving.)
Splatter-proof bowls or dishes when cooking in the microwave by covering them with a coffee filter. (This works great!)
Recycle frying oil by straining it through a sieve lined with a coffee filter.
Weigh chopped foods by placing ingredients in a coffee filter on the kitchen scale.
Coffee filters make great wrappers for tacos and other messy foods! (Wow! Love this one!)
Line a flower planter with a coffee filter to prevent soil from leaking through the drain holes.
Insert a popsicle stick in a coffee filter to catch the drips. (Love this one, too!)
Back to School Tips
To remove odors from thermos bottles: leave crushed newspapers in the bottle (or any smelly sealed container) for a couple of days. Or: fill the thermos with water, drop in four Alka-Seltzer tablets. Let it soak for an hour, longer if necessary.
Add a sprinkling of baking soda to your child's lunch box each day after school. Wipe clean or shake out the baking soda in the morning before packing their lunch. Keeps that box smelling fresh all year!
At the beginning of each school year, buy an accordion file folder. Add all the school papers as they come in. You can sort them when you have time.
Bring home an unused large (or extra-large) pizza box from your neighborhood pizzeria to store art work and large paper projects that you or your child will want to keep. You can stash the pizza box under a bed for easy storage.
Buy a rubber stamp or order self stick labels with your child's name and grade for identifying books, field trip permission slips, lunch money envelopes, etc.
If you can persuade your child to wait just two or three weeks for school supplies (back packs, lunch boxes, etc.) these items will be in the clearance section by mid September with huge discounts. The kids can get by with last year's stuff while they wait.
Write a love note, silly poem or an inspiring message to your child on their lunch napkin.
Headaches - Eat plenty of fish. Fish oil helps prevent headaches. So does ginger, which reduces inflammation and pain.
Hay Fever - Eat lots of yogurt before pollen season.
To Prevent Strokes - Prevent buildup of fatty deposits on artery walls with regular doses of tea.
Insomnia - Use honey as a tranquilizer and sedative.
Asthma - Eating onions helps ease constriction of bronchial tubes.
Arthritis - Salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines actually prevent arthritis.
Upset Stomach - Bananas will settle an upset stomach. Ginger will cure morning sickness and nausea.
Bladder Infection - High-acid cranberry juice controls harmful bacteria.
Bone Problems - Bone fractures and osteoporosis can be prevented by the manganese in pineapple.
PMS - Women can ward off the effects of PMS with cornflakes, which help reduce depression, anxiety and fatigue. (Hey, what about chocolate? LOL!)
Memory Problems - Oysters help improve your mental functioning by supplying much-needed zinc. (Oh yuck ... I'll stay stoopid. ;-) )
Colds - Clear up that stuffy head with garlic.
Coughing - A substance similar to that found in cough syrups is found in hot red pepper.
Breast Cancer - Wheat, bran, cabbage. Bran and cabbage help maintain estrogen at healthy levels.
Lung Cancer - A good antidote is beta carotene, a form of Vitamin A found in dark green and orange vegetables.
Ulcers - Cabbage contains chemicals that help heal both gastric and duodena ulcers.
Diarrhea - Grate an apple with its skin, let it turn brown and eat it to cure this condition.
Clogged Arteries - Mono unsaturated fat in avocados lowers cholesterol.
High Blood Pressure - Olive oil has been shown to lower blood pressure. Celery contains a chemical that lowers pressure, too.
Blood Sugar Imbalance - The chromium in broccoli and peanuts help regulate insulin and blood sugar.