To Plaster a Wall, How Plastering A Wall

May 27 2014 - HOUSE

Working as a mason in our house makes us feel a creator of something new for ourselves and overall this is a beautiful feeling.

Talking about works for house improvement DIY, among the various works that give great satisfaction, there is the work on the walls like to plastering a wall.

We have already talked about beautiful type of wall finishing, like the Venetian Plaster, but let us say that there are also plasters more modest, but equally valid and pleasant.

THE PLASTER, HOW TO PLASTER A WALL

In order to well plaster a wall it is necessary first of all making a good preparation of the wall surface, whether we have a surface of normal plaster or a surface of rustic plaster .

The plaster is a layer of mortar or other plastic material used to cover a rough wall. That work does not have only the function of giving a better appearance, but also is made to protect gthe integrity of the wall from atmospheric agents .

The work of plastering with cement mortar can be a bit difficult for a DIY beginner, especially if the surface to be covered is quite wide.

However, for DIY lovers, on the market there are many products easy to apply, such as plastic plasters ready-to-use that are much more workable and very simple to use (these products are readily available in shopping Centers specialized in home improvement and articles for the house and garden or even in stores that sell products and construction equipments).

To get a good job there are some simple rules to keep well in mind in order to have the plaster well fitting to the wall, specifically:

  1. the wall does not have to be recently built. In fact it is better to wait at least 30-40 days before working on a new wall, otherwise you will always see the signs of underlying bricks (and this means that the wall was not was not completely dry when it was plastered).
  2. the wall surface should be well wet and, if it’s made of stone, it would be better to hammer adequately the surface to ensure a better grip.

The two general rules above mentioned have just one exception, when the wall is made of concrete. In this case, in fact, it should be more appropriate (and so advisable) to apply the plaster immediately taking advantage of the gripping effect of the damp concrete .

Going back to the generality, we must say that the composition of the mortar should be related to the type of wall that you have to plaster, type of plaster and the general context (geographical area , altitude, average level of humidity, etc.).

Among the various types of plasters, two are the most popular:

  • Ordinary Plaster which is applied with two coats of mortar (2 parts hydraulic lime, 3 parts fine sand. Mingle first then dry and add water gradually until dough is firm)
  • Roughcast (Rustic Plaster) that is applied with only one coat of mortar and that it is suitable for exterior walls or uninhabited rooms (such as basements, attics, garages, etc. )

Over the years, several types of internal plaster have been used for the walls. The basic types were plaster on timber framework, plasterboard or dry lining plaster on masonry wall,

It should be said that a repair of an internal plaster wall must be done with the same materials and used to build the original wall. In fact, for instance, the traditional lime putty plaster of the old buildings is often far softer and pleasant than recent  gypsum plasters and it is unappropriate to mix the two techniques.

If the surface to be covered is very extensive, to obtain an homogeneous plaster’s thickness it is necessary to have two reference lines that can be obtained by making vertical strips of mortar for approximately ten inches wide and 1/2 inch thick and then, with the trowel, we throw a small quantity of mortar between one strip and the other and then level them off with a clapboard by sliding it downwards resting it on the two guides with the movements to the right and left.

For the first times you do this work, instead of making mortar stripes, you can use strips of wood ½ inch thick to be nailed temporarily to the wall as ‘ guides, over time and with practice you may go to the method indicated before, which allows you to proceed much more quickly.

For the leveling work (also said smoothing) you may use a flat plastering trowel and, after having duly wet the plaster with a brush, proceeding with a twisting motion until the surface becomes very well smooth.

In the case of a rustic plaster roughcast, the work can be here considered ended.

Instead if we want to obtain a fine and smooth plaster (for the internal walls) we must make a second coat of plaster and then give the eventual plaster finish. In this case, the plastering trowel should be used with an inclination of 45° with respect to the wall, using a plaster’s dough rather liquid (remember to prepare only small quantity of it, because it’s a product that becomes dry very soon) and spread it from the bottom upwards.

For the final touch you may use a sandpaper to obtain a perfect smooth surface of the plaster wall.

At this point it is preferable waiting at least 40-45 days before paint the wall to prevent that permanent stains of humidity appear.

 

Build Understairs Storage, How To Make An Under Stairs Closet

April 24 2014 - HOUSE, HOW TO

There are various methods to take advantage of the space under the stairs in a rational way . Often in the understairs space we are used to leave, temporarily various things, from the bucket mop for washing floors on a chair that becomes a table top for anything that you do not know where to put , but also for paint cans, children’s toys, vacuum cleaner and more you have more you put there.

Result: the word ‘ temporarily ‘ often becomes ‘ permanent ‘ and the space under the stairs becomes , in effect, a space difficult to keep clean and no nice to see.

UNDERSTAIRS CLOSET

We are all aware that today’s homes are getting smaller and smaller and that there is often no space to store tools, toys or things that you do not use every day, and therefore, why not make space under the stairs more functional and usable by building an understairs storage?

To achieve this we can build a cabinet under the stairs, making a shelf or a drawer to fit the space under stairs. We will have the advantage of using rationally that space and at the same time to make that area aesthetically pleasing.

 

WHAT TO DO TO BUILD AN UNDERSTAIRS WARDROBE

Let’s say that, basically, there are two solutions that also depend on the shape of the space under the stairs.

  • Understairs closet with side access.

Basically you create a walk in wardrobe by applying a wooden wall or plasterboard that closes the triangle under the stairs providing access from the top of the scale below (you can tell from the vertical side of the triangle) with front access , i.e. with a set of drawers or shelves placed in front , xxx that you can open or that are sliding on tracks or wheels.

In the first case, the job is just to install the wall and the gateway to the walking closet .

Inside the cabinet , then we can prepare, depending on the size of the compartment obtained , shelves or a bar for hanging coat rack .

In the second case , once you’ve decided what you prefer, library – type shelving , drawers under the stairs or removable modules ( such as those USED for kitchens) , you will have to proceed step by step.

  • Understairs Closet in shelving or drawers.

Do not dwell too much on building a shelf as it is all too obvious how you should proceed , we limit ourselves only to say that we will have to cut the boards (thickness 1.5-2.0 inches and a maximum depth equal to the size of the steps ) to be placed vertically and horizontally to create spaces of cubic or parallelepiped that will be used to store books or ornaments, but also music records , CDs, DVDs etc. .

The way to fix each element of shelving as ‘ hive ‘ is left to the imagination , so that, as an alternative to the classic office shelving, it will be possible to create asymmetric spaces giving a special and personalized effect.

You have to start by building a frame with wooden slats smooth 1.3 / 4 -2.0 inches x 2 inches and then realize 1/4-3.0 individual drawers.

In any DIY Center you can find spare parts as well as several unit components and various solutions that can adapted to your needs.

UNDERSTAIRS CUPBOARD DRAWER

Construction of an understairs drawer or cupboard with pull-outs from is an interesting and valid alternative to understairs drawer and it is represented by extractable elements, similar to those used for kitchens.

These are components that run on wheels or tracks and allow easier access to the contents of the drawers (which is not always so easy, especially when the width of the staircase is remarkable).

As a first thing, as mentioned above, we must begin by constructing three or more frames that go to divide the space into parts of equal width and which serve a bit ‘as a guide for the sliding of the columns.

Also for the construction of these frames can use wooden planks finished smooth section of 1.3 / 4 inches x 2 -2.0 1/4-3.0 inches.

The frames must be made of depth slightly less than that of the steps of the ladder to leave those 1 or 2 inches necessary to make an abutment to the front doors so that then these remain flush with the edge of the stairs.

On the wooden slats of the lower sashes will mount the wheels or you can think a method of sliding on rails laid on the floor.

In both cases, both for the drawers as well for the sliding elements, you can go to stores that sell DIY stuff  to buy front doors for the cabinets, the type used for modular kitchens, that are perfect for we need.

It will only be necessary to cut obliquely the upper part of the doors in order to give the appropriate shape to fit to the inclination of the stairs.

 

There is a wide range of choice for these front panels, in terms of material and also for the type and quality of the finish. In fact it goes from the enamel, resin, chipboard, wood in different colors or, if you prefer, you can choose rough wooden doors and then give a coat of the color you think more appropriate.

Also in the mentioned Do-it-yourself Centers you may find several handles of various shapes and sizes suitable to be installed on your understairs drawer or cabinet, making it a very personalized and exclusive part of your house.

 

How To Furnish A Terrace, Solutions Decorate a Terrace or a Deck

March 28 2014 - HOUSE, HOW TO

Having a terrace, perhaps on the roof of the property (what now everyone calls an attic) it means for you to have the chance to enjoy an outdoor space that, despite having the features of the garden, is much more easily manageable.

You can create a comfortable and elegant environment where you can invite friends or relatives in absolute freedom and pleasantly entertain and relax with them.

The advantage of a beautiful terrace is also increased if the building is located in the middle of a crowded and busy city giving to you that sense of freedom, calm and quiet for which you should otherwise drive for many miles.

However, each type of environment has its own strengths. Imagine a terrace of a penthouse overlooking the sea with a chance to enjoy a drink with your friends in the evening, perhaps looking at a gorgeous sunset. Almost the same emotions will be those offered by a dinner on the terrace in a beautiful summer evening with behind the skyline of the mountain landscape with snow-capped mountains.

PAVING THE TERRACE

If our terrace has already a finished floor, we could keep that as it is and avoid further expenses, or maybe we can think of a new floor with wooden interlocking tiles that can be easily installed by ourselves and that are available at any warehouse or DIY store where you can find several kind of types and sizes. (12×12 24×24 12×24) or planks of wood to cut and fix. The prices are not high and the result is fantastic.

HOW TO DECORATE OUR TERRACE

In order to benefit most of having a nice and beautiful terrace or a deck , it is mandatory to furnish the terrace and decor it in the right way to make it a pleasant and comfortable ambience. There are many solutions to decorate a terrace or a deck, from the installation of awnings or curtains.

An important part in making a pleasant terrace it is certainly represented by the plants. Well selected, according to the context, the climate and the style of our terrace and expertly placed will give a touch of personality.

As we said above, many and differents can be the environmental and contexts of the terrace and it should be taken into account when designing the furniture to decorate our terrace. Obviously, these aspects must then be reconciled with our personal tastes in order to create a setting adequate, but that matches our way of being.

A minimalist décor, perhaps in light colors like white or blue in combination with accessories or draperies contrasting white or yellow for a terrace with a touch of marine style .

Beautiful are the sofas and armchairs in lacquered wood, beach type. Maybe with pillows coordinated with the curtains fluttering by a white gazebo. The furniture must of course be made of materials resistant to the elements.

Also, having enough space, you may think to install on your terrace a small pool or a hot tub, around which we could have some loungers or chairs to create our own private solarium.

Since, as we allways say, we are environmentally conscious, therefore it would not hurt to make the entire terrace power need supplied by a small photovoltaic system to run pumps, lighting and everything else (grill music etc.).

The plants, as we have said before, are very well suited to create a lush setting, but also, especially if there are others around the building of the same height, to create a barrier to protect your privacy on your terrace.

The use of climbing plants can give a very trendy look to your terrace, perhaps you can make them growing close to the walls, climbing on the gazebo’s poles or along the railings .

We have talked of a gazebo, but it could very well be used even a simple garden parasol, those with lateral support and the opening by handle. Both are available in almost all department stores in shopping or DIY centers.

Since the terrace of a penthouse is the ideal venue for fine luncheons or or for an intimate dinner with friends, a nice table, preferably extensible, complete with chairs, preferably folding chairs, is undoubtedly something necessary.

An alternative, certainly less expensive, but that can produce its good effect could be to build some chests (made of wood or also with bricks) to be put along the deck sides, covered with a soft and colored cloth with nice cushions scattered on it, that works very well as a sofa and will surely be appreciated by your friends. In addition you may use the inside of the chests as storage from the weather for the pillows and other accessories)

LIGHTING THE TERRACE

Another important aspect to be taken into account is without any doubt the lighting. In fact, in order to benefit the terrace after dark, in addition to the romantic candles (usefull only to create a sweet atmosphere, but that provide a poor light … ) we should design an electrical system, simple and effective.

If we opted for the gazebo, we can install wall sconces on it : there are of every type and price at any DIY store or Brico Center. Otherwise we can install spot lights for external use or for the garden, having fun to create special effects by placing spotlights exterior close to the plants , facing upwards , possibly also with colored lamps , to increase the decorative effect. And don’t forget to put the sockets, because when you need one, are never enough!

 

 

HOW TO BUILD A FIREPLACE, MY DIY FIREPLACE

February 17 2014 - HOUSE, HOW TO

Fireplaces are something that always capture the imagination of each of us, they are nice, they change the look of the house and there is not doubt that create a sweet and relaxed  atmosphere. But how to build a fireplace it is a good job that you can afford only with caution and due diligence.

FIREPLACES , HOW TO BUILD A FIREPLACE

Build a stone fireplace can really give character adding value to the entire house. Obviously the design of the fireplace must be in harmony with the style and decor of the rest of the house.

If you are working on planning construction or remodeling of your house, you might be pleased to figure out and see, through a simulation, perhaps using a cardboard fireplace model, how your room will look with a built in fireplace. You can play with it, making changes of location, style, shape, size and color of your fireplace, and all of this without doing any work and without spend a cent.

When you are watching at a stone fireplace it is almost impossible not to feel a strong and intense emotion, whic is probably partly due to ancestral invocations that come to us from the past, handed down over centuries an centuries.

The same heating we are watching is substantially the same heating system that was used in the first human gatherings age prehistoric. At those times, but also until a few decades ago, in the castles and houses, especially in rural areas and towns, the fireplace was the center of the house and it was built in the most important room of the house, the meeting room, the room were the family could interact and socialize with its community exchanging opinions and experiences.

So today, the original heating function of the fireplace become less important with respect to the decorative value and, let’s face it, the sentimental aspect.

In short we can say that it is out of the question that a fireplace creates a romantic atmosphere. This is the reason why today the orientation is more addressed to the search of the artistic or even just aesthetic aspect, even at the cost of neglecting the more rational effectiveness and efficiency of the heating caloric leaving the task to really heat up to other heating systems.

Years ago I happened to see in a Nice Resort in California a very nice fireplace, but at a better watch I realized that it was completely artificial, it means with fake wood logs made in plastic, with a pipe connection to the gas system which provided the necessary fuel for the little flame that, of course, was having a decorative function only. And the best of all was that it was only necessary to switch on to get the firplace to light on. Greit efficiency and poor sentiment!

By contrast, in the country homes, mostly in Europe, it is not infrequent to find beautiful typical fireplaces built in the center of the room of these ancient and characteristic homes, surrounded by wooden or stone benches where once the family members were used to sit to warm up during the cold winters.

STONE FIREPLACES

It is interesting to understand how the fireplace construction techniques depends on many variables often, especially for those not luxury, from the materials available on site.

Therefore you may find fireplaces built in granite or stone with inlaid wood , with small rounded boulders or coarse portions of volcanic rock. It was only a matter of style, taste and preferences.

It should first be said that if you are going to build a barbecue or an outdoor fireplace this is a demanding job but it is that it is doable even by those who are not an experienced builder, a diy, the construction of an indoor fireplace requires a knowledge of building techniques and it is not definitely recommend to lovers of amateur or DIY, instead it is better to revert to professionals. This is in order to avoid danger and damage to your home as well to injury to people.

When you start to design a fireplace, especially if it is a stone fireplace, you should keep in mind that, for example, with a low ceiling it is not good using large stones that would make the result as stuffy and cramped room.

In addiction it is a good advice is to use durable and resistant stones, without cracks or veins. Limestone, granite and metamorphic rocks are suitable and durable, while the soft rocks should be avoided like the slate and those that crumble easily as dolomite.

To build ad indoor fireplace, it is very important to use appropriate materials and particularly the refractory bricks to be fixed with specific refractory mortar. This is to be recommended especially for the furnace inside the fireplace, to avoid breakages because this is the part where the temperatures rich highest levels. Care being taken to increase the density of the dough in relation to its proximity to the fire. A helpful tip would be to make sure that the joints between bricks is thin in order to avoid the crumbling also because doing so the strenght is increased by the progressive vitrification of the joints at each switch.

Another useful suggestion may also be to go to an hardware store or in a DIY shop for building and carefully observe the patterns and characteristics of fireplaces exposed to get some ideas.

Alternatively you can buy the structure of the fireplace in prefabricated, it is easy to find several types of construction kit, and once assembled, provide to give the coating that is something that will give you plein satisfaction due to the wide offer of possibilities granted by the market.

Frankly is up to you, is just a matter of imagination and you are having a really rewarding job and to great effect.

BUILD A FIREPLACE

In this regard it should be noted that an important part of the work of installing a fireplace is definetely represented by the chimney. This element is of primary importance and we would say that this is certainly a job reserved for professionals, therefore it is inadvisable to attempt any different, unless you are very very expert.

Even the use of a pre-existing chimney can be dangerous if it is not a chimney suitable for this use, if it is not completely clean and free and if it was not built in a workmanlike. In fact, in the case of non perfect execution we can have a fire hazard .

 

 

HOW TO CLEAN METALS, HOW REMOVE RUST AND OXIDATION FROM METAL OBJECTS

February 9 2014 - TIPS

Almost all metals are attacked by the oxygen in the air.

The reaction that this gas, in a humid environment, may cause to some metals is called oxidation.

The oxides ruin the appearance of metal objects and often also affect the mechanical strength of them.

Typical in this regard is the rusting of iron.

In some metals the oxidation process stops at the surface as the oxide creates a sort of protective film. In others instead, such as iron , the oxidation process continues even in depth .

In all cases, however, a treatment which is always effective is the use of abrasives. However abrasives (such as sandpaper) may cause a suface incision surface of the metal and you can not insist too much. If it is necessary to proceed deeply, it will be better to use specific chemicals.

HOW TO CLEAN THE METALS : ALUMINUM

For object in aluminum we must make a distinction when it comes to items that are used for food or not.

  • In the case of pots and pans for cooking, due to frequent usage, the pots do not have time enaugh to be covered with oxide and then you probably need to do just a normal cleaning with soap and water and then proceed with a good rinse .
  • For items destined to other purposes, they should be cleaned with a cloth soaked in ammonia (remember to use gloves and keep the window open to avoid the poisonous fumes).

After that, to polishing objects you may use a 10% solution of ammonia chloride in distilled water.

CLEAN METALS: IRON

To remove rust from iron, you can use many preparations but after a while the rust come back if the treatment is not repeated with some frequency.

To remove the rust you must wet first the object (if possible by immersing) with a solution of stannous chloride diluted to 8% in hot water. After a while by using a brush you must clean away the residue of rust, then brush it with ammonia to stop the action of stannous chloride and finally rinse and dry it.

Today, however, there are available special anti-rust enamel paints that can be spread directly onto rust and they have already a finished aspect.

HOW TO CLEAN THE METALS FROM RUST AND OXIDATION

  • CLEAN SILVER
    • If the object is scrubbable, prepare a paste with 60% chalk, 25% cream of tartar (more technically known as potassium hydrogen tartrate) and 15% of sodium borate, add a bit of water and rub the object with a cloth.
    • If the object can not be rubbed, boil it in a solution of sodium thiosulphate .
  • CLEAN COPPER
    • You can wipe with a dry mixture of tartaric acid and diatomaceous earth (siliceous sedimentary rock )in equal parts.
  • CLEAN BRASS
    • For brass and other materials subject to blacken (as gas burners), rub them with a cloth soaked in vinegar.

 

 

CHOOSING KITCHEN COLORS, KITCHEN PAINT COLORS

January 31 2014 - HOUSE

We will never stop to repete that the kitchen is an important room of the house and it is the place where you meet your children in the morning when you wake up, it is the place where you dine and where after dinner, before going to bed,  go for the last sip of water or tisane and say good night to our children. Statistically, the kitchen is also the room where discussions and quarrels take place the most (perhaps after the bedroom), where people meet to chat pleasantly maybe looking for a bit of privacy.

In short, as we said, it is an important room! .. and like the other rooms, can be dressed with colours, shades and tonalities giving to it its own personality.

Whitewash the kitchen does not mean just take a brush and start working with it, instead we should understand what we want from it …and from ourself, to feel confortable in our home.

If we are tired of our old kitchen because of its neutral  and sad color, if we want to give a breath of novelty, trendy and fun, it may be enough changing the colors of the walls or the cabinets’ doors, by using a bit of fantasy and you will get a good result.

COLOR TREND FOR THE KITCHEN

It is nice that to think that in our times to be fashionable you do not have necessarily to follow straight directions, there is not a diktat that laying down strict rules to be followed, in fact as of today you may be fashion and trendy even just doing what you like because everyone can have his own concept of what is fashion and wath is not. Is only a question of taste (possibly good taste!).

However, today everybody is constantly looking for something and when they reach it, that target is not anymore important to them and they must address their attention to something else. The result of this life’s philosophy is that many are dissatisfaid.

As we said, we all are continuously looking for something different and also the kitchen interior and the home’s furnitures follow these rules.

Therefore we should talk about sentiment and emotions instead of trend.

If we do not go crazy for kitchens with all the walls of the same color, maybe beige or pale pink, we may try to change choosing kitchen color, for example, givig a first coat painting with a sober, normal, light color like ocher or light green, then combine some cheerful color that will bring a much more personal touch to your kitchen.

Always talking about kitchen paint colors, excellent results can be also obtained with a beautiful yellow gold or an orange tint, maybe put across or beside to the light green above mentioned or, also, some nice neon colors that will help you in the morning to wake you up while you are sipping your hot coffee.

We may also try to coordinate the colors of the cabinets’ doors with the color of the walls of your kitchen, looking for the best combinations or even with shades in contrast. On the other hand, it must be said that traditional furnishings can easily be livened up thanks to walls pain ted with bright and lit colors.

colors kitchen

KITCHEN COLORS AND CHROMOTHERAPY

Today all of us we pay attention to what concerns the health in all its forms and no exception is made to the effect that colors have on our mood. In fact recently becomes more and more important choosing colors for the house where you live and this is not only for aesthetic reasons.

It seems that the blue in its various shades and tones can have a relaxing effect but, when it is paired with light colors, such as yellow or white, it reminds the colors of the marine seashore and gives a lively and cheerful feeling.

The light pink is another color that alone c ould be considered ‘old fashion’, but that definetely has a different effect when combined, for instance, with a pearl gray.

But the effects of the colors combinations, as you can imagine, are almost unlimited, from orange with electric blue, green with purple, not forgetting the classic black and white, fuchsia and black or silver grey and burgundy.

At every possible combination must also be added the matt polished version that does nothing but add more unsuspected color effects, without mention of any wood trim, maybe on a laminate kitchen furniture.

If we lack imagination, a considerable help we can get from the Ikea experience, in fact thanks to its software service you may project your own kitchen and this gives you the possibility to preview the effects that the combination of colors may have on your kitchen and you can create custom and original compositions.

CHOOSING KITCHEN COLORS

The colors and especially their combination, due to an optical effect, have the chance to reduce or expand spaces. The knoledge of this peculiarity could be very usefull when choosing kitchen colors.

Therefore, opposite walls light colors painted with a darker back wall, will give you the impression of having a kitchen very deep.

If we have instead a kitchen with a low ceiling, it is better to avoid dark color for the ceiling, in fact, instead, a light paint will give you the impression of a higher ceiling. For a small kitchen, to give the illusion of width it would be better using light colors on the walls. And so on.

As in many occasions, also in this field we can have a good help from the large retailers such as Ashley Furniture Home Stores, Walmart, Ikea, just to name some.

In fact the Furniture Stores in their showrooms reproduce home corners where they set up their products to promote the sale. Very often these spaces are wisely set up and can be a good source of ideas for you, so take a ride there, it might be instructive and ‘enlightening’.

About the fluorescent or gaudy colors that we appreciate so much, we must say that they are often the ones of which we get tired sooner, so our suggestions is to never exceed. Eventough as we changed once, we can do everytime we want, renewing from time to time with a little cost and a lot of satisfaction our kitchen, that corner of the house that is so important for us.

 

HOW TO PREPARE A CHRISTMAS TABLE, CHRISTMAS’ TABLE DECORATIONS

November 23 2013 - HOW TO

Christmas is the season of love, peace and family. Preparing and decorating our home for the Christmas holidays is a way to involve the whole family, a reason to gather and joy for all.

If you have decided to spend the Christmas holidays at home, a very important part of these holidays certainly is the Christmas’ Eve dinner .

A house full of love and warmth, a beautiful decorated Christmas tree, a lovely crib, are all things that fill the mind with peace and serenity.

A well laid table and prepared with flair , just adds to the festive atmosphere even a touch of elegance and class and will be something that everyone will appreciate is that you consume Christmas Dinner with your family, whether you have guests ..

Obviously to properly set the Christmas table must be well organized in advance.

THE TRADITION OF THE CHRISTMAS’ LUNCH, CHRISTMAS’ EVE DINNER

We do not intend repeat what everybody already know about Christmas, in fact all over the world there are different customs and traditions on how to celebrate Christmas Holydays.

  • Someone is used to have the big dinner on the evening of Christmas’ Eve, often based on fish dishes, reserving for lunch, on December 25, only a lighter meal .
  • Others, however, are traditionally used to have a light snack after midnight Holy Mass and then the great Christmas Lunch on the next day.

What definetely they all have in common is the preparation of a special table and an extensive delicious menu.

HOW TO PREPARE THE TABLE FOR CHRISTMAS

Whether it’s Christmas’ Eve dinner or Christmas luncheon, the care of the table, the decorations, the way you set the table, the choice of dishes, glasses and all the rest are of particular importance to time and we think we must put our best attention to that if we want to try to impress our guests, counting that reciprocate in a future occasions.

A minimum of programming certainly is essential to have a good result. It may be helpful to take a few notes to make sure you do not forget anything.

As always, on important occasions like this, is best to set the table in advance, for example, early in the morning for the Luncheon or in the early afternoon in case you will have a Christmas’ Eve Dinner.

The tablecloth can be white, embroidered tablecloth or the classic Christmas red tablecloth, but the important is that it is of the right size to hang from the table at least 10 inches on each side.

About the napkins, although those of tissue are obviously always the most suitable, if the situation allows it, you could replace them with paper napkins duly folded as triangle, possibly matching the tablecloth. But, please, never use the current white fastfood type napkins!

To mark the places at the table, find some placeholders, they are very useful so you will immediately know if your table is sufficient or if you need to provide several extensions.

There are several types of placeholders, from the simple stiker-holder to small trinkets, perhaps as a edible figurines of bread dough or almond (very nice! After identifying your place, you can eat it!). Another just as cute idea would be to use as markers, small anphoras in which put two-three teaspoons of cream and two cherry mozzarella with a little fork or a toothpick. Guests will love them!

Of course the etiquette tells us how they should be positioned cutlery. Although we are not too formal, proper disposal as well as functional satisfies the taste of the more refined connoisseurs of good taste. Therefore:

  • The right to spoon and knife,
  • Left for Forks,
  • Fruit and dessert cutlery above

glasses slightly to the right front of the plate, next to the placeholder.

The dishes style should be appropriate to the type of interior decoration and the house’s style, without exceeding, but also without running out (and take also into account for some emergency, especially if there are children!)

Another not secondary element is the centerpiece (one or more, depending from the length of the table). A beautiful composition of dried or fresh flowers or fresh, made by yourself would definitely be of a great effect .. and it is nothing difficult.

Even some Christmas decoration placed here and there on the table would help to add a touch of cheer to the Christmas table denoting the care of the hostess to detail.

THE MENU OF CHRISTMAS, HOW TO PREPARE A CHRISTMAS MENU

Technically this is not part of the preparation of the Christmas’ table we are talking in this post, however the menu is an important part of the Christmas celebrations  and it must be prepared according to the above tips in order to have a very well laid table.

Obviously we are not talking about the contents of the menu, for which we refer to other articles with the relevant recipes and ingredients, but specifically to the menu’s paper itself.

The menu is just an ‘accessory’ but it could come useful, especially if there are many guests and visitors and if some are vips. The writing of a particular menu, in any case, can be nice even among friends.

We may divide the type of Menu depending on the context of which we discussed above, you can then prepare

  1. a witty menu
  2. a more formal menu

In both cases, you can set the list of the courses on a normal white or colored paper, folded in half and placed in a horizontal direction, listing on the left the appetizers, main courses and to the right the desserts, drinks and coffee. And everything cheerfully decorated throughout.

To give more consistency you can also use some sort of thick paper, like a cover of a book, in which will be inserted the menu’s sheet. To keep nicely the two together you can use a piece of red ribbon.

Another possibility is to use a sheet on which we can try to imitate an ancient parchment and then roll up and fix with the usual red ribbon.

The Menus should be prepared one for every two guests. Very chic and humorous effect may be to make a copy of it in a bigger size to be placed on a coffee table next to the dinner table or, if you have it, on an easel or something similar, that you may put at the room entrance.

These are steps that can be very nice for a beautiful Christmas Table, however everything is still to be assessed at your own discretion , according to the confidence with the guests and the kind of atmosphere of the event, in order not to be ridicule, but rather to pleasantly surprise guests so they may keep a nice memory of Christmas past from you.

 

HOW TO MAKE SALT DOUGH, TO PREPARE SALT DOUGH

November 22 2013 - TIPS

The SALT DOUGH is a material that can be easily used for many small craft projects, like to make an unusual Christmas brig.

But, what is the Sald Dough exactly? and how do you prepare it?

TO MAKE THE SALT DOUGH is not difficult. It is a material that, although its origins date back to the dawn of time , IT can be considered as timely as ever.

OBJECTS MADE WITH SALT DOUGH

To mold various kind of figurines and objects, normally are used materials considered more ‘noble’, like Das, terracotta, clay, plasticine or chalk, but perhaps, not everyone knows that one of the most popular materials used as today is just the salt dough which is the same ‘poor’ material used by our grandparents in the past. The reason of the choice of this type of material is to be found in its low cost and easy production.

In fact, to prepare the salt dough for the creation of figurines, characters or gifts is pretty simple, just need to make sure that the mixture has the right consistency.

PREPARATION OF SALT DOUGH

It should mix the ingredients in an accurate manner, following the guidelines below, you can change the quantity, but the proportions must be observed, and so:

  • 1 pound and 16 onces of flour type ’00′
  • 14 ounces of fine salt (or marine salt)
  • 14 ounces of fresh water
  • 1 tablespoon of white glue (or vinavil glue)
  • 1 tablespoon of oil

To prepare the mixture to make the dough Salt you should mix all the ingredients, making sure to dissolve completely the salt into the water and then add to it, little by little, the flour to make the mixture homogeneous (same your mom does when she prepares a cake), at the end add the glue and the oil (the latter is not strictly necessary, but many suggest it, in order to make more workable the dough).

Mix, knead and knead and mix and knead again with patience and making sure that your hands are always wet, keep it up until you obtain a homogeneous mixture.

At this point it would be preferable to divide the dough into loaves of 7 to 12 ounces each and then wrap them in plastic wrap so to preserve the material from drying out. With this you can use the dough also at a later time.

HOW TO PAINT YOUR OBJECTYS OF SALT DOUGH

As a technique the painting can be done in two ways:

  1. first paint the paste of salt and then held divided the various quantities of different color to be used for modeling the parts of the figurine according to the colors you need.
  2. first you may mold the figurines or objects and paint them in a second time.

Once the work is finished the objects can be cooked in a microwave at 122-140.00 ° F, ensuring that reaches the right consistency without going overboard to avoid the formation of cracks.

 

 

CHRISTMAS CRIB WITH SALT DOUGH, AN ORIGINAL NATIVITY

November 20 2013 - HOW TO

THE NATIVITY OF SALT DOUGH, AN ORIGINAL CHRISTMAS CRIB

For Christmas time, especially among the peoples of the Mediterranean basin, but not only them, it is very common to prepare the Crib, the representation of the Holy Nativity of Jesus.

For the construction of this small picture of the world of over 2,000 years ago the tradition would suggest the use of various typical materials. These materials range from traditional products such as cork, wood, paper-mache, cardboard, etc., to get to more modern and innovative materials such as plexiglas and polycarbonate or even few as ancient as ….. bread dough!

Indeed, among the various materials with which you can model your crib, few would probably have thought of using …. salt and flour.

An excellent result with little expense to create a nice crib that remains over time and that, year after year can be also enriched with new elements and characters: the crib of salt dough.

To realize a very uncommun crib, you just must have a little bit of fantasy and a certain manuality for this kinf of DIY work .

Now you may start to make your own original crib version of

THE NATIVITY MADE WITH SALT DOUGH

The base material to build your crib is obviously represented by the salt dough paste, a compound that is obtained by mixing flour and salt chopped the most end as possible with the addition of water and a few teaspoons of wallpaper paste or vinavil glue to obtain an easily workable paste. In addition to the salt dough we will also need some materials that will be useful to build statues of the Nativity’s scene and the various objects, such as sticks, straw, wire, and so on.

The tools needed to work the salt dough are the same used to work Das or clay and, ultimately, also to prepare homemade pasta:

  • spatulas,
  • rolling pin,
  • pliers,
  • scrapers,
  • spoons,
  • boxcutter,
  • scissors,
  • the wheel for the ravioli,
  • the garlic press.

STEP BY STEP HOW TO PROCEED TO BUILD THE CRIB IN SALT DOUGH

In order to mold the Nativity’s figurines usually they begin by forming a kind of cone or pear for the body and a small ball for the head. For the characters’ hair you can use the garlic-press that produces a kind of vermicelli of pasta suitable for this purpose. Then we take a little well-stretched dough with a rolling pin and form a kind of canvas on which cut off with a boxcutter as a atelier’s fashion designer in a cloak, a scarf, a collar, sleeves, and even a girdle, shoes, caps, etc.

Then you will assemble the parts to form the shapes of various characters. Similarly a layer knead a little thicker to build the hut and houses, cutting rectangles for walls and roofs which then you will join with the touch of your fingers, maybe helped by two drops of glue.

REFINISHING OF OUR CRIB MADE WITH SALT DOUGH

At this point it is possible to leave the natural color as it is, which has an all its own charm, to do this you have to put the statues to bake in the oven after having brushed them with a little egg yolk to give the typical amber color.

The alternative is to color each figurine. In this case you may follow two ways:

  1. coloring small amounts of salt dough with various colors depending on what you want to build , or
  2. after the figurines and other objects (houses, palms, etc) have been duly shaped, you will paint them, one at a time, by using a brush.

Now after the work, beside your beautiful Christmas tree you will also have your own, unique and very special Christmas Crib.

 

HOW TO MAKE AN ORIGINAL CHRISTMAS TREE DECORATION, CHRISTMAS ORANGE SLICES

November 20 2013 - HOW TO

ORIGINAL CHRISTMAS TREE DECORATION

Christmas is just around the corner and everyone is struggling with the preparations for the most important and beautiful holiday of the year.

As the time is running fast it is definitely our deep desire to make our home full of a cheerful and comfortable atmosphere with characteristic made ​​of scents, colors and flavors that we carry in our heart since childhood. On the other hand, as usual, we should always deal with the portfolio and therefore with the the need to save money, without renounce to things we like .

ORIGINAL CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

Here are some simple tips that might come in handy to decorate our Christmas tree in an original way, without spending a fortune .

Take some oranges and lemons, possibly beautiful, firm and without blemishes.

On a kitchen cutting board, using a sharp knife, slice them to get several thin medallions, avoiding to make them too fragile.

Then we will put all the slices so obtained, well arched and spread out on a plate, on a cutting board or a wooden board that will be placed over a stove, a heater or any other heating surface, even the floor of the fireplace it would be fine as long as the heat does not burn.

Let the slices on this heating surface for a sufficient time to disidratarle very well the slices.

At this point we already get a first result by filling the house with a pleasant aroma of citrus fruits that begin to create the Christmas atmosphere of which we talked about earlier.

Once the slices are well dried, we make a small hole on each of them with a little nail, a needle or the scissor’s tip, through which we pass a golden thread or a ribbon to hang the slices on our Christmas tree getting an astonishing effect, with very little expenses and with a job that surely will leave excited your friends so that they appreciate a beautiful ecological and fragrant Christmas Tree.

It also must be said that the orange slices that you do not have used for the Christmas tree decoration are not useless. In fact you may use said slices to prepare a lot of lovely home decorations like a beautiful Christmas Wreath or centerpiece for the Christmas Eve’s Table.

 

 

 

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