Country Traditions

October 30, 2010

Interiors: Get the distressed look | Life and style | The Guardian

Filed under: decorating, farming, furniture, painting, weather, wisdom — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 8:44 pm
Antique French Bamboo washtand - black pink an...

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Interiors: Get the distressed look | Life and style | The Guardian.

via Interiors: Get the distressed look | Life and style | The Guardian.

Style tips for the distressed home

1 Avoid the overly ornate. A curling French bed looks great in a sparse room with white painted floorboards, but straight-edged, blocky shapes work better under distressed paint as there’s less to distract the eye.

2 Colder, neutral tones work best – from dark to pale grey to blue-whites. Avoid creamy and yellow tones that will tip you towards Scotts of Stowterritory. If you’re brave and have an artistic eye, experiment with strong colours such as turquoise (très Provençal) or pea green (rather Bloomsbury set). But be warned – most of us don’t have an eye. For a safer strong colour, dark grey is always a winner – check out Downpipefrom Farrow & Ball.

3 Pay attention to handles – anything shiny or attention-seeking is out. Safest is to paint-in round wooden handles, which makes them disappear: the distressed ethos is about quiet elegance, not shouty dingly-dangly bits. Another alternative are half-moon handles, which are often sold in an aged patina.

4 Be inspired. If you’re commissioning built-in distressed furniture, collect pictures of the desired look to show your carpenter. Think about structure first. If you want blocky, Shaker styling, draw up trad panel doors. Bevelling, or perhaps mirror panels, on bedroom wardrobes? Colour and the level of distressing comes later.

5 Never underestimate the importance of the tester pot.

The basic technique

1 Remove all handles and other hardware.

2 Sand the piece thoroughly – boring, yes, but vital to the finished product. Don’t lose interest yet.

3 Apply a coat of primer. White is fine, but if you want to vary the look, use a toning undercoat (grey under white, say), which will show through at the distressing stage.

4 Apply two thin coats of matt eggshell. The more matt, the better. Farrow & Ball has a woodwork paint called Dead Flat. Say no more.

5 Once dry, sand it down again to expose tasteful glints of raw wood or primer. Go hard on edges, crevices and curves for that beaten-up look.

6 Wipe it all clean, then coat with a wax paste to seal the deal.

Make it age, and fast…

1 Cheap picture frames can be instantly antiqued using Rub ‘n Buff (in silver leaf or pewter) – try Amazon and online craft sites. Dab a small amount along the raised ridges for that Miss Havisham glint.

2 To age a modern mirror, brush flecks of grey paint into the corners where it meets the frame, especially if there are cracks or indentations. But do this sparingly and carefully. “It’s quite a delicate job,” warns interior designer Gill Richardson.

3 Painted floorboards scuff up all by themselves – as long as you don’t varnish them. Several coats of floor paint is enough to protect boards but malleable enough to scuff quite quickly. For perfection, varnish over the top coat. Lighter shades will age more quickly than dark floors.

4 Don’t forget the garden. Railway sleepers make great raised garden beds. Paint them with live yoghurt and you’ll get a beautiful patina of growing lichen – within hours.


Interiors: Brick by brick | Life and style | The Guardian

Filed under: farming — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 8:40 pm
A brick (stretcher bond)

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Interiors: Brick by brick | Life and style | The Guardian.

via Interiors: Brick by brick | Life and style | The Guardian.

Bare brick: a basic DIY guide

How do I know if I’ve got a brick wall underneath my plaster?
If your home is pre-1950s, brick was probably used. As a rule, the earlier it was built, the better the brick (some advise pre-1920 to be sure). To check, chisel plaster from a hidden corner, or look through openings already in the wall, behind radiators or by unscrewing a socket (turn off the power first).

How do I remove plaster? Is it a messy job?
Yes, and a time-consuming one, too. If there’s any loose plaster, gently scrape off, then chip away at the rest with a putty knife or chipping hammer. If it’s stuck fast, you could try muriatic acid, but this is extremely harsh and not recommended. When you’re done, clean the brick using a stiff wire brush and a mix of equal parts powdered soap and salt, and enough water to make a paste. Wash down with water and seal with one part PVA to five parts water. This will trap dust and protect the brick while allowing it to breathe, and won’t look shiny. Don’t be too perfectionist: splashes of plaster add an elegant roughness.

If I expose a brick wall, will it affect sound and heat insulation?
If it’s an external wall in particular, you may experience more draughts. And reduced sound insulation.

My house doesn’t have brick walls. Can I fake one?
Faux-brick cladding can look remarkably real, and is mess-free – has a selection of interlocking panels, the surface made from stone particles designed to look like brick (nicer than it sounds). Or has a range of thin stone claddings and veneers.

How do I paint a brick wall?
Clean the brick as above, dry for 12 hours and give it a quick vacuum. Apply a primer (try Earthborn’s silicate primer), dry and paint – masonry paint works best. Farrow & Ball has around 100 different colours.

How to grow squash – Telegraph

Filed under: farming, gardening, recipes, weather — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 8:31 pm
Spaghetti squash cleaned

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How to grow squash – Telegraph.

via How to grow squash – Telegraph.

There are four others the Longlys grow every year and have stood the test of time: ‘Celebration’, ‘Yellow Patty Pan’, ‘Little Gem Rolet’ and the spaghetti squash.

‘Celebration’ is pretty, a mix of green, cream and orange; it’s a fantastic cropper and stores better than any other variety they’ve grown, but the flesh is pale.

The colour of squash flesh seems to correspond overall with the flavour – the deeper the colour, the richer the taste.

‘Yellow Patty Pan’, ‘Little Gem Rolet’ and the spaghetti squash are summer and autumn producers. Like courgettes, you can crop these lightly over months, starting to pick in August, and the more you harvest, the more the plants produce. That’s handy for any vegetable grower and I’ve added these to my sowing list next year.

‘Little Gem Rolet’ is a very heavy cropper and easy to cook well. Just roast it or boil it whole until it’s soft to the tip of a knife (about 40 minutes at 175C/350F/gas 4, or 30 at a gentle rolling boil), slice off the top and eat with a spoon, seasoned with salt and pepper, like a boiled egg.

I also love these stuffed with pork mince and pine nuts flavoured with chilli, rosemary and sesame oil. The Patty Pans are similar – lovely in stir-fries when small in summer and excellent for soups and mash in autumn.

Spaghetti squash is better not thought of as a squash at all. Its texture and flavour is much gentler and softer, but still delicious.

Boil for 30 minutes, slice in half and remove the seeds and douse liberally with fruity olive oil or butter, salt and pepper and mix this in the flesh.

I thought I would find these too watery and boring, but they’re perfect – served on their own – for a simple midweek supper.

Tough love

The final piece of advice from the Longlys – sow your squash in the usual way, the seed pushed in vertically, direct into the soil, or in a pot to grow on a bit before planting outside into very organic-rich soil.

Then – the absolute key to a good harvest – pinch out the growing tips of all the plant shoots in mid-August and keep doing so.

This stops plants putting on triffid-like, leafy growth and forces them to conserve energy for flower and fruit production.

Without pinching out, the quick growers often just drop their flowers in favour of shooting out like a giant squid. Keep them contained and you’ll have many more fruit to harvest.


Roast pumpkin seeds

These are good to serve with a glass of wine and less fattening than crisps or peanuts.

2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Good pinch of flaky salt

½ tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3.

Put the pumpkin seeds in a roasting tin, add a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of water, a pinch of flaky salt and the cayenne.

Toss together and roast for 5-10 minutes. As the water evaporates, it crunches up the seeds and leaves them coated in oil, cayenne and salt.

October 26, 2010

Petunias Seeds to Save – iVillage

Filed under: farming, gardening, weather — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 7:46 am
A container garden of petunias, daisies, marig...

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Petunias Seeds to Save – iVillage.

via Petunias Seeds to Save – iVillage. Click link for list of 10


“Be careful not to cull from common petunia hybrids,” warns Milliken. (Hybrid offspring are either sterile or will not resemble the parent.) “But otherwise gathering the seed is very straightforward.”

October 25, 2010

A ploughing lesson for beginners | Life and style |

Filed under: animals, farming, gardening, tools — Tags: — dmacc502 @ 9:30 am
Rudolf Koller 001

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A ploughing lesson for beginners | Life and style |

via A ploughing lesson for beginners | Life and style |

First I held the plough and Walsh controlled the horses. Then we switched roles. Other than a jolt when the horses set off, it was surprisingly easy. Doing it all day would be a different matter, though …

October 19, 2010

Plants by Type: herb

Filed under: gardening, herbs — Tags: , , , , — dmacc502 @ 6:53 am
Mentha x piperita var. citrata 'Eau de Cologne...

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We’ve chosen North America’s most popular garden plants and provided “how to” gardening information to help you prepare, plant, and care for them.

For each plant, we’ve identified the hardiness zone, sun exposure, soil type, soil pH, pests and problems, harvest tips, recommended varieties, and special features. You’ll also find recipes, free e-cards, and a dose of wit & wisdom. Just click on an image below to view that plant’s growing guide.

Or, click the links below to browse by plant type:


October 18, 2010

Home Accessories: Dish Towels as Curtains

Filed under: decorating, family, wisdom — Tags: , , , , — dmacc502 @ 2:31 pm
A country farmyard of chickens, decorative tea...

Image by Decorative Towels by Cath. via Flickr

Home Accessories: Dish Towels as Curtains

Always a good idea: linen tea towels serving as curtains. They look natural and airy, and we love decorating with things we already own. Here’s a roundup of some recently admired tea towel installations.

Above: Photo via the kitchn.

Above: Photo via Verhext.

Above: Here’s a clever idea for creating a casual window covering: tea towels stitched together to make an airy kitchen curtain (especially if you stick to like-colored towels). Photo by Polly Wreford.

Above: For the less motivated among us; an instant curtain idea (via photographer Simon Brown) involving an impromptu curtain rod, a square of linen (doesn’t even need to be hemmed), and a pack of wooden clothespins

Natural Remedies: Hair and Skin

Hair Style.

Image by Magdalene Sun via Flickr


  • Use lemon juice as a rinse over freshly washed hair to induce natural highlights, especially if you’re a blond. It’s instant sunshine for your hair, in a fruit.
  • Beer has long been used—even by professionals—as a setting lotion and conditioner. Pour straight from the can or bottle, comb through and rinse.
  • Mayonnaise, straight from the jar, will make hair soft and shiny. The egg nourishes brittle hair with protein, while the vinegar gives it body and bounce.
  • Try this mixture to regain supple hair: Mix one teaspoon powdered brewers’ yeast with four ounces of apple cider vinegar to create an after wash rinse. Pour it over wet hair and let stand at least a minute before rinsing.

Problem: Oily hair and skin


  • Add one teaspoon baking soda to two ounces of your shampoo. This works as an alkali to absorb excess oil.
  • Baking soda works the same way with skin, it will absorb oil and also neutralize excess acid in your skin. Make a paste with baking soda and water.
  • Try lemon juice as an astringent facial cleanser.

Problem: Dry skin


  • For a homemade scrub, mix ground oats and honey. Rub all over your face—especially your nose. The abrasive will remove dry, scaly skin while the honey seeps in as a moisturizer. Rinse completely off and pat dry, and your skin will be glowing and baby soft. Only use this remedy once a week.
  • Plain honey is an excellent remedy for chapped lips. Leave on overnight—it makes for sweet dreams!
  • For superdry skin, use olive oil. Rub it in prior to a bath or shower. You may substitute peanut, sesame or sunflower oil.
  • A quart of milk in a hot bath is a luxury as well as a skin toner. It’s a trick nearly as old as time.

Problem: Puffy, tired-looking eyes


  • Used teabags make excellent eye cosmetics. After dunked, drain it and place it over your closed eye (one for each) and hold it there for a few minutes. Redness, soreness, swelling and irritation will disappear like magic.

Things Mother Use To Say

Filed under: family, wisdom — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 4:11 am
Ludwig Richter – The Housewife

Image via Wikipedia

I was born and raised in the north by a Mother from the south. She was as southern as it gets. Old wives tales and sayings unheard of were common in my house. Here are just a few.

“Don’t whistle  at the table” It conjures up the devil.

“Never open an umbrella in the house” It will bring death to someone in the family.

“Don’t sew on Sunday” God is watching you.

“Don’t bite your fingernails” They will puncture your intestines.

“Never swallow gum” It will harden and block something.

“Don’t make fun of anyone” You will reap bad luck.

“Plan on being a good housewife” Only girls who can’t find a husband work.

“Always cook more than you need” You never know who will come by hungry.

“Always iron your sheets” You will sleep sounder.

“Clean your kitchen first” People always look at your kitchen.

“Don’t swear” It shows your lack of the English language.

“Try not to get to friendly with the neighbors” They will always want something.

“Take a covered dish to the new people moving in” Let them keep the dish for good luck.

“Let the baby cry” He needs to strengthen his lungs.

There are so many, I still don’t sew on Sundays.


October 15, 2010

The Last Beekeeper: Conversation Starter : Planet Green – On TV

Filed under: farming, gardening, wisdom — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 6:42 am
Honey bee on blue flower

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The Last Beekeeper: Conversation Starter : Planet Green – On TV.

via The Last Beekeeper: Conversation Starter : Planet Green – On TV.

Beekeeping for Beginners: Get Prepared Mentally

By now everybody knows how important it is to help the honey bees. Whether you are planting honey bee friendly plants or supporting your local backyard beekeeper, you are doing a vital service to our planet, and to our own well-being. Without bees, our diet would be pretty darned boring.

10 good articles on Bee keeping.

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