HOUSEHOLD HINTS

SOME CRAFTY TIPS THAT MIGHT COME IN HANDY
NO MORE TANGLED JEWELRY
1) THE CRAFT METHOD:  Take a wooden clothes hanger, decorate with Contact Paper or glue on pretty fabric, or wrap with something silky (tie this off in a bow on the "hanger" part).  Let your imagination go as wild as your decorating scheme.  Get your hammer and stud with pushpins (use clear, or match colour). Hangs either on the wall or in the closet with your necklaces all pretty in a row (Empirical observation: Works best against wall).

2) NOT QUITE SO CRAFTY:  Find wallspace for a corkboard.  Apply pushpins, hang your jewelry.

2a) CRAFTY AGAIN:  If your corkboard has a frame, you can decorate to match the rest of the room.  Or cover an unframed corkboard with pretty fabric ... the possibilities are endless!

3) THE LAZY METHOD:  Hammer the pushpins directly into the wall.

4) ANOTHER LAZY METHOD:  You can buy plastic "Jewelry Hangers" ready made.  They usually have pegs for necklaces and braceles and holes for earrings.

NOTE:  I've used Method 3 in a bedroom-decorating scheme, and Methods 1 and 4 for for the "overflow".
TANGLEFREE LONG-TERM STORAGE OF JEWELRY CHAINS (OR:  ALL PACKED UP FOR TRAVEL)
When you need to pack up your necklaces and bracelets for moving or to take them on a trip, this is a surefire method to keep them tangle-free:  For each piece of jewelry, take a paper tissue, lay chain across and roll up.  You can fold this in two or three.  Make sure the clasp is secure if there is a medallion or something on the chain.  For delicate chains, close the clasp, then pull tissue through the resulting "loop" before rolling it up so there is no chance of knotting.
To take on a trip, you might place these packets into plastic sandwich baggies.  For storage, layer them in a box or decorative tin.  This is great for keeping rarely-used pieces clean and dust-free.
DISCOLOURED OR MIS-MATCHED PICTURE FRAMES
We all got some of them ... inexpensive little frames that were once gold or silver-coloured but have become quite unsightly with time.  Or we can't find quite the right colour we need, at least not at a reasonable price (I once needed a dark shiny blue and a metallic green).  The solution?  Very simple ... and very inexpensive.  Go through your collection of nail varnish, or purchase an inexpensive bottle in the shade you want (they do come in all kinds of shades these days, and often under 2 dollars).  Might take several coats (make sure they're thoroughly dry before applying another coat), but it will be beautiful.
ANOTHER INEXPENSIVE "SHELVE"
If space is at a premium, keep small necessities close by with little baskets (these were 75 cents each, on clearance), hung on the wall with 2 picture hooks each.  Note that the small white container holding short eye- and lipliner pencils and makeup brushes (front) is the upside-down lid of a hairspray can (the kind that has an extra "ring" inside to fit over the spray nozzle).  There aren't many throw-away items that don't get pressed into long-term service at my house.
SIMPLE LITTLE SHELVES
EASY FIX FOR FURNITURE WOBBLE
This works great with shelves or chests of drawers, especially if they sit on carpet:  Take apart a wooden clothes pin and shove under the front ends (skinny side first, flat side up).  Totally discrete and just about foolproof!
WALLPAPERING -- MADE SIMPLE
Comes a time when your walls are screaming for attention.  Either they're all dingy and discoloured, or the decor's grown old and tired and you just can't stand to look at it anymore.  Such was the case recently around here (the old building's had a bit of a soot problem).  I wanted a fix that was quick, easy, reasonably priced, and I wanted the results to be 100 percent washable.  Paint?  Oh my, what a mess!  Not to speak of the effort involved.  Wallpaper?  In a rented flat?  But I thought, what the heck ... and found exactly what I thought I was looking for.  But have you checked the prices on wallpaper and borders lately?  Fortunately, I remembered that a long time ago, as my daughter and I lived in a huge new flat where the bathroom had been a very boring white with dark woodwork, we had done the walls in newspaper-print Contact(TM) Paper (black on white), hung a matching shower curtain, and accented the room with bright-red rugs.  The kitchen had gotten a facelift with sunny yellow and white checks.

As shown in the picture above, the bathroom was very simple this time when I came across this Contact Paper which perfectly complimented the light-blue fixtures.  The room is teensy, so I left some white wallspaces as not to overwhelm.  A new set of light-blue rugs (on clearance), and the bathroom was back in business ... for less than 25 Dollars!

The living room was another matter.  After my wallpaper idea proved too costly ($27 per roll through a clearance house, and $80/roll for a lovely border, for crying out loud!!!), I decided to wait and see if something else would come up.  And sure enough ... on my very next trip to Super Target, I found the loveliest black and white marbled Contact Paper, and in the bin next to it was the same thing ... in shiny black, with the marbling such a light blue as to look almost white.

I really didn't have a plan when I started, but the patterns of white and black fell into place naturally, dictated by architectural features as well as furniture and decoration.  The living room went so well, I decided to do the whole flat.  Even the library, which I used to hate because it was cold and without character (especially since it's turned into a bit of a storage room), is now a place to spend time in rather than just choose a book or a video tape.  An oversized beanbag was just the right thing here ... except that the cat claimed it as a preferred napping spot!

For the Kitchen and Library, easy-to-make curtains sewn from bedsheets found at a second-hand store completed the transformation.

So that's how I spent my summer vacation.  Great exercise, by the way, and without paint splatters or gluey mess.  Also, Contact Paper peels off real easy should I grow tired of the marble or decide to move someday.  Best, of course, is the transformation from ordinary dingy-walled flat into "Roman Bath Meets Early Bordello" ... all for less than  200 Dollars!!  (Click
HERE for a peek at a corner of the living room.)
CANDLES
Jar Candles ... there's always too much coloured wax left in the bottom.  Here's a simple way to not only get the jar clean for re-use, it uses up the wax and makes a pretty new candle.  There's two ways I've found that will easily get the residual wax melted:  On your electric stove, turn a burner to the LOWEST setting.  Put the jar on the burner and soon the wax will be melted (NOTE: So far, I haven't had any accidents with this method).  You can also use your microwave, but make sure that little metal thingie that holds the wick in place has been removed.  Then put the jar on a microwave-safe plate and nuke (again, at a low setting) until the wax has melted.  In the meantime, find a pretty little glass or jar and place an inexpensive votive candle inside.  The glass should not be too much taller than this candle.  Using your oven mitts(!!!!) remove the old jar with the now-melted wax from burner or microwave and pour the wax around the votive candle.  The layers that form as you keep adding wax from different jars look very pretty.  I've used crystal stemware (acquired cheaply at charity shops) with red wax, they make beautiful decorations for your holiday table.

NOTES: You can pour the wax around fresh wicks from a candle making kit, but I never seem to have a candle making kit handy, while there's always gadzillions of little glasses and jars, and cheap votive candles from the supermarket.
Cleaning the jars:  As soon as you have poured out the wax, grab some paper towels and wipe the inside of the jar -- carefully, as it's still hot, but it will come clean pretty easily this way.
Also melt the "stumps" from regular candles that have gotten too small for further burning.
SO NO-ONE IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD KNOWS HOW TO REPLACE THE TOILET PAPER ON THE EMPTY ROLL?
My solution:  A little shelve over the tank where spare rolls can be kept ... along with a paperback or two :)  See below for directions to make a simple shelve.

RE the bars of soap in the little basket:  Did  you know that your bars of soap will last a heck of a lot longer when unwrapped right after you bring them home from the store and left to dry out before use?  Smells nice, too.  The old Onion Basket to the right makes great storage for cotton balls.

These walls used to be dingy-white, btw., the pretty design is simply contact paper.
You'll need:  Scrap pieces of lumber -- wood or plywood (the ones I've used are between 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, from 2-1/2 to 4 inches deep depending on where or for what they'll be used, and anywhere from about 12 to 20 inches in length).  Sturdy white string or any kind of braided rope (check your craft- or fabric store for inexpensive rest pieces -- I just found 50 ft of white, light-weight boat-tying rope for $1.30 that works like a charm), Contact Paper, or fabric and white glue.  Nails or tacks and 2 (not too flimsy) picture hooks.

If using plain string:  Tie the end to something (a doorknob perhaps), pull across room, cut off from its roll.  Start twirling it between your fingers until it's tight and will twist itself into a nice rope when folded in half (you'll have to push and pull it a bit to help it along).  Cut loose, tie off ends.  You need two pieces of this, each about 20 in. long and (securely!*) tied into a loop.  Cords can also be braided from strips of fabric.

Decorate wood, then lay a piece of string about 1/4 inch from the ends of the shelve on the underside; cover this with another piece of contact paper or fabric (hide the tied ends under this).  Secure string with a nail or stud in the front and back of the shelve.  The nail heads or studs can be painted to match (Liquid Paper works great for white, or nail varnish for other colours).  A staple gun can also be used.  Hang with picture hooks.  The hooks can be painted to match the rest of your decor.  Great for all kinds of things (examples: 
CDs, Knick Knacks--pictures taken before above-described wallpapering endeavors).  The edges of the  shelves in the picture are finished with lacy seam binding (held in place by double-stick tape).

*To securely tie your rope or string into a loop, tie a knot very close to each end, then double-knot both pieces together right behind those first knots.  Hide this knotty mess in the back and under another strip of whatever you use to cover the wood.
Unless otherwise noted,
all recipes/text copyright
Valkyrie Grant
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