Tuscan Style Decorating IdeasWritten by Jill Kane
Earthy colors and natural materials are two basics for “old world” style of decorating. To get an idea of colors we’re talking about, go for a walk outside and take notice of beautiful colors around you, blue sky, golden sun, even chocolate brown of mud in springtime. Ok, so you don’t have a view of blue/green Mediterranean Sea but you’ve seen pictures of it haven’t you? On that walk, stroll through produce department of your local grocery store and note dark purple eggplants, red peppers, yellow lemons, green olives. These are some of colors you’ll want to consider for your Tuscany decorating. Natural materials will include wood (think rustic, sturdy type furniture), tile (colorful ceramic for wall accents) natural stone for flooring and unpolished metals such as copper, tin, or pewter for accents.
You probably already have some Tuscan influences in your home. Iron scrollwork brackets, terra cotta planters (more about these later), fruit themed artwork, colorful pottery, copper, tin, pewter items, tapestry wall hangings – what was old is new again! Check your garage, attic or flea markets for some of these items.
What could be simpler than lining a sunny windowsill with some pretty little terra cotta pots with Italian herbs (oregano, basil, sage, etc.)? Do you have a section of old wrought iron railing that once graced your front porch? Bring it in, clean it up and get creative. Maybe you could use it for a pot hanger in kitchen or hang it on wall for a decorative accent in family room. How about that old leather trimmed trunk? It may make a great coffee table or storage area. Since colorful tile work is essential for Tuscan style, how about making your own mosaic masterpiece? Just break up a few pieces of old china, (use safety goggles), apply it with tile adhesive to a terra cotta planter, old vase or whatever you choose, let it dry for 24 hours, grout it and wipe down with a damp sponge.
Spring Chores at the CabinWritten by Elly Kendall
Whether you live in your cabin year round or it's been closed up for winter, it's time for spring cleaning. It's hard to get motivated. We'd all rather be out playing in sun and enjoying spring after long cold winter. I thought I would share my "to do" list and some helpful tips to get you started so we can both get chores done.
I like to start with my fireplace. Hiring a local chimney sweep is not always possible in very rural areas such as we live. I have a heavy 25' chain that works very well. From roof I remove spark arrester then slowly drop one end of chain down chimney, holding onto other end. Slowly rotate chain so it rubs firmly against inside of chimney. Keep swirling chain for several minutes, pull out chain, clean spark arrester with a soft brush and replace arrester. Keep in mind 2 things: 1. make sure pitch of your roof is safe to stand on and 2. Your chimney must be straight with no elbows for this technique to work. If pipe has an elbow use chain technique then disconnect pipe at elbow to clean it with a wire brush and remove ash and pitch. Reattach pipe. All that's left is to clean inside of fireplace or wood stove, remove all ash and pitch residue that has dropped from chimney cleaning. I use oven cleaner, a Teflon scrubby then window cleaner on heat tempered glass when pitch has built up that awful amber film. My wood stove gets a new coat of black stove polish too.
Now that fireplace and wood stove are clean and all ash has settled I dust and vacuum entire cabin thoroughly. I use lemon oil on my log walls and a small pan of water stays on my wood stove to put some moisture back into dry air from wood heat. Next I tackle windows.
Okay, so everyone knows how to clean windows but don't forget window runners, check for any leaking that may have occurred during winter and clean all window treatments. Drapes, curtains, louvered blinds, cornices, screens and sunscreens all get a thorough cleaning. It's a good days work just on windows but it's worth it as I love to open my blinds and enjoy beautiful spring sunshine and blooming flowers.