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That’s because she knew how to trim her table in style. Her base was a cream-color tablecloth topped with an autumn-hue floral centerpiece and my personal favorite: Edible turkey place card holders handmade with fudge-dipped cookies, candy corn, and other yummy tidbits. Her table was traditional, yet it certainly wasn’t stuffy. You could call it formal yet festive. And that’s the look I want when I host Thanksgiving someday.
If you’re in charge of Thanksgiving this year, chances are you’ve made a few trips to the grocery store and whipped up a few make-ahead items. But have you thought about how to top your table? Worry not—you can wow your guests with these ideas for topping a terrific Turkey Day table in little time:
Centerpieces. Your centerpiece may be the crowning touch atop your Thanksgiving table (aside from the turkey, of course), but that doesn’t mean you have to spend hours creating it. If you think the only time you’ll have to create a dazzling centerpiece is the mere minutes between when you pop the rolls in the oven and when notoriously early Aunt Mabel rings your doorbell, then you’ll definitely want to check out Real Simple’s 60-Second Centerpieces. After all, what could be more simple—and more stunning—than clustering different-size candles together? (Taking necessary fire precautions, of course.) Even better, if you’ve got a few extra minutes to spare, hollow out those gourds you used for fall decorating and insert tea lights. Voila—instant, nature-inspired candleholders. Or gather up those gourds and arrange them in a pretty basket. Heck, I personally love the look of scattering pumpkins and gourds atop a basic orange table runner. Or purchase a dozen autumn-hue roses and plop them in a round vase for an elegant look.
Place cards. Hosting a crowd? Designate seating arrangements with spiffy place cards worthy of the holiday. Making place cards can be as easy as folding and decorating pieces of cardstock or printing pre-made place tags such as these from Ben & Jerry’s or these from American Greetings. Or see how Martha Stewart makes rustic place card displays with wine corks and a basic template.
Speaking of seating assignments, part of the challenge tabletop decorating lies in figuring out where to seat everyone. The key is to seat people based on personalities. For example, if your dear cousin Debbie is somewhat of a gossip monger, you’re probably better off seating her next to a new guest—whether it’s your son’s girlfriend or college roommate—who might not mind the constant chit-chat. Get the scoop on strategic personality-based seating arrangements from Real Simple.
Placemats. If you think your table needs placemats, but nothing you have seems suitable, enlist your kids’ help. These downloadable placemats from Better Homes & Gardens will keep the kids busy for hours—and they’ll add instant personality to your table.
See? I told you it was easy. Now, just breathe.
Happy early Turkey Day,
The Home Know-It-All
He’s a know-it-all with many names: the James Bond of Home Improvement, Mr. Fix-It, and Ace Hardware’s Helpful Hardware Man are just a few. Have you figured out who it is yet?
It’s Lou Manfredini, a nationally recognized DIY expert who’s a master of giving tips on gardening, lawn maintenance, and home improvement safety.
If his name sounds familiar, that’s probably because he has authored five DIY Books, has a call-in radio show with WGN Radio in Chicago called “The Mr. Fix-It Show,” and hosts a nationally syndicated TV program called “House Smarts.”
But today, he’s adding a new moniker to the list: Mr. Home Know-It-All. And he’s here to help you get your home ready for winter. So, without further ado, let’s get the Helpful Hardware Man talking.
Q: In a lot of the country, it's getting to be crunch time-if homeowners don't tackle outdoor maintenance soon, it might be too late to beat the snow. What should homeowners' top priorities be for outdoor maintenance right now?
A: Clean up all the clutter around the outside of the home. Those areas where firewood or junk may be piled up against the house can be a safe haven for rodents. And they want to get it! Other priorities should be to rake up the lawn one last time and apply some winterizing fertilizer, you have until about one week after Thanksgiving to do this for most of the country. Also, change any outdoor lighting especially those up high to make sure you are not up on a ladder in the freezing cold for some of you.
Q: The idea of weatherproofing can be intimidating-it seems like it will be time-consuming and challenging to many busy homeowners! Why is it worth doing-and what are the basics homeowners should make sure they take the time to do?
A: By applying weather stripping and or a window film to a drafty window or door you can increase the energy efficiency of that opening by 70%! We all have time for that kind of savings. Most of the products use double-sided tape so if you can wrap a present you can weather strip a door.
Q: All the leaves in our yard right now are the bane of my existence. Any tips for getting them out of the way as quickly and easily as possible before my neighbors run me out of town?
A: Rake up as much as you can but then feel free to run the mower over what's left to create a mulch. If you add winterizing fertilizer you will actually help that mulch to break down and help feed the lawn.
Q: Maybe this is a no-no, but I'm going to ask anyway: What typical fall maintenance chores could homeowners get away with skipping if they run out of time?
A: Pruning trees and bushes and applying winterizing fertilizer to the lawn (although in the spring you will need to wait a little longer for it to green up).
Q: Now that we're stuck indoors more, what are easy maintenance projects to tackle indoors this time of year?
A: Vacuum all of the HVAC registers to improve the indoor air quality in your home. You can also upgrade the furnace filters to pleated types that will catch more airborne particulates. Another great project is to bring your kitchen cabinets back to life with a product called Howards-Restore-A-Finish and #0000 steel wool. It's like a face peel for your cabinets.
Q: Are there any great tools or products that can make fall maintenance easier for homeowners?
A: How about 66,000 of them—that's what we have access to at Ace! But there are all new lines of eco-friendly tools for outdoors that I would recommend investing in. Cordless lawn mowers, propane-fired weed trimmers, natural fertilizers and good old-fashioned outdoor tools to let you work up a sweat as you get your home ready for the winter all will help you be more environmentally friendly while working in the great outdoors!
That’s it from Lou—for now. Thanks for sharing your expertise with readers, Lou. We look forward to chatting again soon!
The Home Know-It-All
Thanksgiving is almost here and I already have visions of my aunt’s traditional holiday feast dancing around in my head. It’s true. I am seriously craving green bean casserole as I type this.
But before your guests make a mad dash to the table, they’ll have to walk through your front door. And that’s where you can set the stage for a warm, welcome gathering. Greet guests in style with festive door decor that celebrates the season with nature’s bounty—acorns, leaves, mums, seeds, you name it. The options are endless and you’re only limited by your imagination.
Need a little inspiration? I suggest you browse this Better Homes & Gardens slideshow. It features 19 nature-inspired ideas for fall wreaths and door decorations. My favorite wreath by far is the first one, made from beautiful berry blossoms that will set your front door ablaze with autumn color. It’s simple, yet it’s gorgeous.
Have kids eager to help out with Thanksgiving prep? Put them to work making this friendly homemade sign with cardboard squares adorned with acorns, cinnamon sticks, and twigs. (If you want another kid-friendly option, you should definitely check out this version from National Geographic Kids.)
I love the look of fresh flowers any time of year, so it’s no surprise that I was attracted to Southern Living’s Thanksgiving door wreath. This stunner features chrysanthemums and pheasant feathers that make a bold statement. And it has a longer shelf life than you may think: When the flowers wilt, you can replace them with new blooms or with leaves.
Do you have any handmade wreaths that you’re particularly proud of? Send pictures of them to us here at The Home Know-It-All—you’ll inspire us and other readers.
The Home Know-It-All
We wrote about wood-burning fireplace maintenance quite a while ago, and we taught you how to build a better fire even longer ago. So if you go au naturel in your hearth, you’ve been doing it safely and brilliantly ever since.
But we haven’t forgotten those gas fireplace devotees out there. We’re with you on that whole I-hate-chopping-firewood thing, and we want you to be safe too. Here’s the scoop on gas fireplace maintenance.
As with any gas appliance, you should get your gas fireplace inspected annually by a licensed gas technician to maintain low-energy costs and ensure well-being. (Ask the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association for a list of professionals in your area.) When the technician shows up at your door, he or she should be ready to:
What can you be doing in the meantime? Clean the glass front of your fireplace often—but never when it’s warm. (The pores in the glass enlarge, letting cleaner seep in and causing cloudiness over time.) Wash gas logs once a month during heavy use with a soft bristle brush, never leave the fire unattended, and call a technician promptly if you notice anything fishy.
And make it snappy—it’s starting to get pretty cold ’round these parts.
The Home Know-It-All
Whenever I whip up a cake, cookies, brownies, bars, or any other sweet treat, I proudly flaunt the results on the footed clear glass cake stand that rests atop my wine bar/sideboard. (Heck, even if I cheat and bring home store-bought bakery goods, I still show them off.)
If my kitchen/dining room/living space were large enough to corral multiple cake stands, you can bet I’d have a collection in different colors and styles. Until that day comes, however, I just have to put the one I already own to good use, make a mental wish list, and ooh and aah over my favorites.
Simply sophisticated. I’m in love with the Flirt Ruffle Cake Stands from Potluck Studios (available in three sizes; prices vary) because they exude quiet elegance. The white finish works well with most decor, and the scalloped edges add instant flair. I think these stands are the perfect backdrop for a fancy dessert.
If you like the look of ruffled edges but want to spice up your decor with a bold hue, try the Emile Henry Ruffled Cake Stand in red from Williams-Sonoma ($70).
Birthday bonanza. Blowing out birthday candles has never been more fun. The Singing Cake Plate from Lenox ($69.95) rises to the occasion—literally—with its brilliant birthday-inspired design. It’s the epitome of fun. And should you feel so inclined, Lenox also makes a personalized one for just a few bucks more.
Petite treat display. Sure, it’s easy enough to arrange cupcakes on a basic cake stand. But it’s much more enjoyable to display them in style on a stand made just for small goodies: The Cupcakes ’N More Mini Dessert Stand by Wilton ($15.79, [photo top left Courtesy of Wilton] for a stand that holds 24 cupcakes; you can also buy different sizes). The stand boasts a towering design with wire spirals to corral your cupcakes; the wire spirals have a non-toxic, non-chip silver-finish. Another feature to celebrate: The stand easily collapses for easy storage when it’s not in use.
Basically there are cake stands for every interest. Case in point: If you love elephants, here’s a stand just for you. Or if you’re a nature lover, make a statement with this one, which is bedecked with hand-polished aluminum butterflies around the base. Want something whimsical? Don’t pass up this one, complete with ceramic high heel shoes that forms the base. (Would you expect anything less from a footed cake stand? Bad pun intended.)
But there’s always something special about a custom creation—why not take a Plain Jane cake stand and jazz it up? Get inspired by Martha Stewart’s jeweled cake stands. Or give old plates, vases, and candlesticks a second life with this cool idea from Design Sponge. I had a friend make several cake stands for her wedding last autumn (to showcase the luscious cheesecakes her talented mother made for each table) and the results were nothing short of stellar. Check out antiques stores and flea markets for vintage plates, vases, and candlesticks.
The Home Know-It-Al
Way back in May when I moved into my new apartment, my favorite green reading chair suffered a tragedy. It got snagged on a railing while it was being carried up three flights of stairs, and a small hole ripped in the front cushion. “No problem, you can make a slipcover,” my mom was quick to say, which sounded like a plan at the time. But now it’s almost December, and I’ve yet to do it.
Quite frankly, I think it’s because I’m scared. Despite a year of home economics in middle school, I know next to nothing about sewing. Luckily, after doing some research, I’ve found that I don’t need a needle and thread after all. (Not to say it’s impossible to create a sewn slipcover. Apartment Therapy explains the process in steps that I could even follow—that is, if I owned a sewing machine.)
What you’ll need:
1. Break out your tape measure. Remove the seat cushion, and secure the tape measure at the front base of your chair. Wrap the tape across the seat area, up the back, and over the top to the floor. Add the length of your cushion plus 18 inches to this measurement, and that’s the length of fabric you need. The bolt you buy will largely determine your width. (Upholstery fabric is typically 54 inches wide.) But quickly measure the widest part of your chair—that may be the backrest or seat area depending on your chair type—to make sure it’s wide enough.
2. Drape the fabric over the chair. Tuck, pull, and push the fabric until it looks smooth and slips nicely into the chair’s crevices. Start with the seat and move to the back, ignoring the armrests for now. Try making a box pleat by hand at the back to fasten the fabric tightly. Use a t-pin or safety pin to keep everything in place, but leave the bottom edges open. Next, drape fabric over the armrests and secure with upholstery pins.
3. Flip the chair over. Use upholstery pins to fasten the bottom edges of the fabric to the base of your chair. Pull tightly but allow a little give so the fabric won’t tear when someone sits down.
4. Wrap the cushion like a present. Lay the cushion face down on a smaller piece of fabric, bring the edges up, and attach with t-pins. Finally, place the cushion back in the seat and admire your work.
Want to deck your pillows in a matching fabric? Check out this stylish and super simple cover.
And if even these easy projects seem like too much work, go the ready-made route. Try Bemz.com, Todoes.com, or Potatoskins.com for slipcovers in every decorating style. For chairs and sofas in unusual shapes and sizes, consider hiring a seamstress who can create a custom slipcover for your piece of furniture.
The Home Know-It-All
Identity thieves beware: I’ve got a paper shredder and I know how to use it. Ever since I got mine last winter, I’ve put it to very good use, shredding anything and everything with personal information (and even papers that don’t—including that stack of annoying junk mail that tends to quickly accumulate on my desk).
If you don’t own a personal paper shredder, I highly recommend investing in one. You can find them in many prices and sizes (some fit neatly under your desk, while others, as you’ll soon see, even fit in a drawer). Here are a few of the ones worth checking out:
Heavy Duty. If you work from home, you might need a more hardworking machine. And that’s where models like The Staples 30-Sheet Strip Cut Shredder ($169.99) come in. As its name says, it has a 30-sheet capacity and it can withstand constant use—up to 100 daily. The shredder’s blades cut your papers to ¼” strips, while its 8.14-gallon bin stores a lot of paper. In addition to shredding credit cards and staples, you can also shred CDs and DVDs too. Another bonus: This model comes with a warranty.
Stylish and Safe. The Powershred DS-1 from Fellowes ($209.98) allows you to feed 11 sheets at a time. This lean, mean shredding machine has the power to shred as many as 130 sheets per minute—as well as credit cards, staples, and small paper clips—with its cross-cutting steel blades. Another feature I like? The step-can wastebasket. And even though this paper shredder will slice ‘n’ dice all of your confidential paperwork, you can rest assured it won’t harm you. There’s an important safety feature that stops the shredder when your hands get too close to the paper opening. Another thing this model has going for it: It got a good rating from the Good Housekeeping Research Institute.
Pint-Size Pick. Short on space? The handheld Personal Shredder from InnoDesk ($14.99) fits perfectly in a desk drawer—or you can also easily bring it with you on a business trip. This petite, battery-operated model boasts a 3-sheet capacity that’s ideal for receipts and envelopes.
The Home Know-It-All
I’ve never had a landline to call my own, but I’m not alone. According to a Harris Interactive survey conducted in April 2008, one in five adults does not have a landline, and of those adults, 49 percent are between the ages 18 and 29.
So like many of my fellow Millennials, I’m living life off the grid, on the wild side, by the seat of my pants, relying solely on my cell phone. But because I’m also a slight worrywart, I have to ask myself: Do I need a landline? And that’s an ongoing debate. It seems many folks like myself are living fine and dandy with just a cell phone, but going wireless isn’t for everyone. Before you cut the cord, ask yourself these questions.
How often do you use your landline? Do you spend more than a few hours a day chatting on the old-school telephone? If so, consider how many more minutes you’d need to add to your cell phone plan to cover it. Would that increase your bill more than the cost of your landline? Better stick with both services.
Does everyone in your household own a cell phone? Although you may own a cell phone, your daughter, son, spouse, or great-grandma who lives in the attic may not. If you don’t want to receive their personal calls on your device, it makes the most sense to keep a shared landline.
Do you use your landline to connect to the Internet? If you use a dial-up connection to check your email and browse the World Wide Web, you’ll need a landline. (Unless you can live without the Internet, which is simply unfathomable!)
Do you get reception in every room of your house? Before kicking your landline to the curb, check reception throughout your home. Your cell phone will be the only way to dial 911 in an emergency situation. If you live in a 700-square-foot apartment like someone I know, this shouldn’t be a problem.
So what have you decided? I’m always up for a good debate.
The Home Know-It-All
Who says you have to give up gardening when the temperatures drop? Bring the gardening fun inside this winter. Indoor herb gardening is a fun way to satisfy your green thumb, chase away the winter blues, and enjoy robust garden-grown flavors year-round. (Other bonuses: It’s inexpensive, perfect for small spaces, and easy.)
If you’ve been growing herbs outdoors, you can simply divide your bounty and bring it indoors. (Another option: gather cut herbs from the grocery store.)
If you’re starting from scratch, visit your local nursery for seeds and a lightweight soilless mixture. Be sure to pick herb varieties that don’t grow too wide or too tall. (Try chives, basil, lavender, parsley, mint, and thyme.) Then you’ll want to round up several small containers with drainage holes (adding an inch of gravel at the bottom of the pot also aids drainage)—opt for clay, wood, or ceramic pots at least 6 inches deep. If the pots are too large for starting seeds, you first can plant them in a peat pot and then transfer them to the larger container. Once you plant your seeds, HTGV recommends sliding a clear plastic baggie around the pot to retain moisture and encourage growth. Read up on how to start herb seeds here.
For best growing conditions, place your plants on a sunny windowsill—a south-facing window is best (just be sure that your plants don’t actually touch the cold glass). Don’t have a sunny window? Try a grow light instead. Regularly snipping your herbs encourages growth. Just be sure not to trim more than 1/3 of the foliage. You’ll know it’s time to water when the potting mix feels dry to the touch (you don’t want to over-water, or you may encourage root rot).
The Home Know-It-All
When you have a baby, you spend more time in the nursery than all the rooms in your house combined. So when planning how to decorate that space, don’t just think of your baby—keep yourself in mind as well. The way I see it, there are four essentials for any infant’s abode. So if you’re expecting, take note, and let me know how the decorating goes!
Bright colors can stimulate your baby’s mind, so pick colors that are vibrant but not too overwhelming. (Remember you’ll be staring at them as well, so don’t choose a color that’ll give you a headache in a matter of minutes.) Consider making the most vivid hue an accent in the bedding or curtains. If you get stuck, check out this article. It explains the difference between warm and cool colors in the nursery and examines the emotions associated with each.
Need a painting refresher course? Read this post from awhile ago.
No doubt about, durability is key here. It’ll keep you from worrying after every spell or mishap. Go with stain-resistant carpet or hardwood floors if possible. Already have wall-to-wall carpeting? No problem. Purchase a resilient area rug to cover heavily trafficked spots. Rosenberry Rooms has oodles of adorable rugs for both boys and girls, and they’re capable of withstanding anything you—or your baby—throws at them. I think this one is my favorite, but this is a close second. And this is a solid third.
In addition to baby furniture, you also need a rocking chair for yourself. Find one with plenty of back and neck support, and spend time sitting in one before buying it. This one ($1,200), also from Piccolini, looks pretty comfortable, and I love the lime green color.
What else do you need? Here’s a checklist from the Expectant Mothers Guide so you’re sure to remember everything.
Good luck and congratulations!
The Home Know-It-All
I love reading about all the fantastic environmentally friendly materials on the market and am constantly updating a list of “dream” green improvements I’d like to make to my own home. But sometimes it can be tricky to imagine such eco-friendly options in my house because most of the green homes I see in magazines and online are the sort that are way out of my price range. That’s why I find these peeks at real-life green design so refreshing. See for yourself:
Where else do you go for real-life green design ideas? Let me know—I’d love to post them here!
The Home Know-It-All
If you’re like me, you use your home office—or desk in the corner of your bedroom—to read your favorite blogs and online shop. But if you’re like Julie, one of the fine contributors to this blog, you use your home office to telecommute to work everyday. Either way, the room has the potential to gobble up more energy and paper than any other spot in your house. Make it more environmentally friendly with these tips.
Buy the right supplies. Fill your office with recycled, biodegradable, or third party certified materials. Check out TheGreenOffice.com to see what’s available. I’d really like this non-toxic pen, but maybe that’s just the little girl in me who loved getting new school supplies.
Use a smart strip. Don’t let the phantom load claim your peripherals. Even when scanners and printers aren’t in use electricity is still flowing through them. Rather than let energy—and money—go to waste, plug your computer accessories into a “smart” power strip that senses when appliances aren’t in use and shuts power off completely.
Power down. Turn your computer off when you’re not using it, despite those rumors that you’ll waste more electricity. Though there’s a small surge of electricity every time you switch a computer on, it doesn’t compare to the amount flowing through it over an extended period of no use. For the most energy savings, turn your computer off when possible.
Go for a laptop. Buying a new computer? Opt for a laptop. It consumes only 15 watts of electricity, while a desktop uses nearly 130 watts. If your work requires a desktop, look for the ENERGY STAR® label.
Turn off overhead lights. Switch on table and floor lamps with compact fluorescent lights to illuminate your workspace, rather than unnecessary overhead lights. With task lighting, you’ll brighten essential work areas and save some dough.
Reduce. Think twice before doodling on another note pad or printing a sappy email from your significant other to keep paper use to a minimum. Write on both sides of a sheet of paper, jot reminders in a planner rather than sticky notes, and store paper slightly out of reach to keep you from using it as often.
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle. Last but not least, keep a recycle bin close by to toss used paper and other recyclable materials.
I think that’s it for my list. Do you have any other tips for going green in the office? I’m always up for more suggestions!
The Home Know-It-All
Be forewarned—I’m on an organization kick again. This time around I’m dead set on cleaning up underneath my bed. And it’s not only because it’ll make spotting the boogey man a little easier. (Though I do like to peek under my bed every time I get home to check for him.)
Mainly, I want a spot for more storage. My apartment doesn’t have much of it, so I like to squeeze every inch of usable space out of it. Underneath my bed is an ideal spot, but cramming too much under there can make locating items difficult. With a few select tools, however, I’ve developed an under-bed organization system that suits my knack—some would say, obsession—with order. Give it a try. I bet you’ll sing with glee as well.
First, I cleared everything out from under my bed and bought these bed risers ($9.99) from Target. They hold up to 300 pounds each and lift the bed five inches to make room for larger boxes.
Then I bought a couple of these rolling under-bed baskets ($37.83) from Amazon.com to hold smaller items that I regularly use, like art supplies, scarves, and mittens. Because the baskets roll, I no longer have to shimmy myself under my bed to locate that missing pad of paper or long-lost sweater.
Once those were filled to the brim, I grabbed all the items I use less often and placed them in colorful storage boxes, similar to these from the Container Store. Their bright colors make it a little cheerier under my bed, and the label cards on the front make locating specific items a snap. Plus, having everything in containers automatically makes the space more organized, causing my heart to go pitter-patter.
But if all this still doesn’t get you organized, consider buying a bed with built-in storage, like one of these featured on Apartment Therapy or one of these shown on Jeri’s Organizing & Decluttering News.
Still not able to wrangle in the clutter? Check out Miller Organizing’s tips and tricks for tidying a small space.
The Home Know-It-All
I consider myself to be pretty darn fortunate when winter rolls around. When the temperature drops—er, plummets—I can throw on my coziest sweatshirt, grab my favorite fleece throw, and curl up on the sofa with a mug of hot tea. But all those shrubs outside my apartment aren’t so lucky—they have to tackle winter weather head on. That’s why it’s important to protect them before the cold season truly hits.
How? First remove broken or diseased branches. Then water the soil surrounding your shrubs thoroughly until the ground freezes. At that point, pile mulch around the base to retain moisture. Learn more about the benefits of mulch here.
Dealing with hungry rodents and deer? Protect your precious shrubs from these pests by removing excess vegetation near the plants and creating a chicken-wire fence around them. You may also want to sprinkle red pepper powder on leaves or garlic cloves around the plants too, as many garden pests are not fond of these tastes.
And if you want to save your shrubs from winter dryness caused by wind and sun, create a windscreen by placing stakes around each plant and wrapping burlap around the perimeter. It’s not the most attractive method, but it’s tried and true. Another option? Spray your shrub with an anti-desiccant, which creates a waxy coating on leaves and needles to seal in moisture. Chances are, you’ll need to reapply the spray later on during the winter.
The Home Know-It-All
I rely on my appliances to wash and cook at the drop of a hat. (I don’t think I’d survive without a dishwasher!) But when one goes on the fritz, I have an awful time deciding whether I should fix it or nix it. It doesn’t make any sense to plug more money into the microwave or dryer if it’s only going to call it quits in a couple of months. The thing is, how am I supposed to know if the cost of fixing it is more or less than a new appliance?
With so many things to consider, deciding what to do with your broken appliance can be rough. Here are three questions to ask yourself before making a decision.
If you want to get into specifics, Popular Mechanics has good advice. The article examines common problems with computers, electric ranges, dishwashers, and even smaller appliances—like blenders, vacuum cleaners, and electric shavers—to help you make an informed decision. And be sure to check with appliance stores in your area. The technicians there can also point you in the right direction.
The Home Know-It-All
The other day I was searching the Internet for decorating ideas when I happened upon this Real Simple story about decorating with linens. I was instantly hooked, because the ideas were easy, practical, and they allowed me to use materials I already had in my apartment.
For example, if you’ve got an oversize dishtowel lying around, why not transform it into a cute apron? That’s what I did this weekend, and it totally came in handy last night when I made a yummy but very messy three-cheese penne chicken bake. Another cool idea? Recycling a tablecloth into a punchy seat cover. With the right fabric, this project would work amazingly on my dining room chairs. As for those old pillow shams taking up precious space in my dresser, I think I might just turn them into colorful place mats.
But the decorating opportunities don’t end there. If it seems like your linen closet is bursting at the seams, why not put some of your seldom-used linens to work by making pillowcases, tablecloths, shower curtains, you name it? I’ve got a vintage linen table runner draped across my dresser at home. And while it’s not the most innovative decorating idea by any means, it adds just the right touch of femininity.
Other uses for those older linens? Martha Stewart suggests hanging lengths of linen from bookshelves to protect your favorite novels from collecting dust or creating a clever window shade with raw linen.
These ideas, of course, barely scratch the surface of possibilities. What ideas do you have for decorating with linen?
And, because it’s Election Day, I can’t leave you without reminding you to do your civic duty: Get out and vote.
Happy Election Day!
The Home Know-It-All
Not surprisingly, with the current state of the economy, this isn’t the best time for major home remodels or new home purchases. But it is a terrific time to tackle low-cost, do-it-yourself improvements around the house.
The benefits? When you decide to save cash by taking a staycation rather than a vacation, your time at home will be more enjoyable because your house looks so darn good. And once the economy is on the upswing again, should you choose to put your home on the market, it will be in great shape to sell.
Here are some of the easiest, least expensive to-dos to add to your list:
What easy around-the-house improvements do you plan to make soon? Share here!
The Home Know-It-All