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The Everyday Home
Page 2

"The Craft Room"

Plunder the Pantry for Pleasing Pots

When it comes to containers for dried flowers and herbs, try looking in an unthought of place for some unusual containers - your pantry. That's right. After all the pepper has been emptied from the pepper can, or the beans or corn have been poured from their cans, rinse them out and recycle them into attractive containers that will fit right into any kitchen.

In the picture above, I have combined dried oregano, sweet annie and silver artemsia to make this charming arrangement. A few bay leaves have been tucked in as well. The finishing touch is a homespun bow tied around the can.

In the picture below, a raspberry can was recycled and put to good use holding an array of dried flowers and herbs like statice, roses, artemsia and nigella pods, to name a few. Moss softens the edges.

Some basic design ideas....
Any number of dried florals can be used. Holiday versions of the above can be made by substituting evergreens, holly berries and cinnamon sticks. Also, a cute embellishment for a kitchen window seal is to plant some herbs in various vegetable containers. Simply pour 1-2" of small drainage pebbles into the bottom of the can to help with drainage, add potting soil and herbs. Place the planted herbs in a sunny window, and clip often to promote growth.

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What is "French Country?"
French Country is a mix of bold colors and patterns combined to create a look and feel unique to the Provencal area of France. Bold yellows, blues and reds are the most well-known colors. Rooms decorated in French Country use an eclectic mix of items such as raw pine furniture, wrought iron candlesticks and chandeliers - and of course, decorative items taken right from the gardens such as bottles of herbed olive oils, braids of garlic and red peppers and baskets of colorful vegetables. The picture below, taken from the catalog of Calico Corners showcases how French Country inspired fabrics can create this new and popular look.

More Design Ideas to Create a French Country Look
1) Hang a pot rack and fill with either wrought iron or copper pots, bundles of fresh herbs and braids of garlic.
2) Make your own decorative-only bottles of herb vinegars and oils. (See the recipe below.)
3) Preserve beautiful long, crusty baguettes or round loaves by placing in an oven on lowest setting and baking until the loaves are extra hard. Coat with a matte finish shellac. Place loaves in a large wicker basket with a fabric liner made from bright French Country fabrics.
4) Create a work of art overhead by changing an ordinary light fixture into a Provencal delight. Buy a second-hand chandelier, spray paint it black to simulate wrought iron. Buy inexpensive clip-on shades and cover with French Country fabrics using Super 77 spray adhesive. Wrap garlands of faux grapevines in and throughout the fixture.
5) Add instant "age" to the walls by rolling on a stucco using wall mud and a roller brush. Paint with a sunny yellow basecoat, add a wash with a red sienna glaze and finally wash with a buttercream yellow.
6) Roosters! For some reason - roosters seem to echo French Country. You can find inexpensive ones at large craft and decorating stores like Kirklands.
7) Potted flowers and crocks of fresh cut flowers: sunflowers, red gerbera daisies, red geraniums - the brighter and sunnier the better!

Love the French Country Colors but your home is more traditional?
Then try the look featured below. Combine traditional furniture pieces upholstered in a rich blue and accented with pillows made from bold French Country style fabrics. Use the same fabric as the pillows to slipcover a side chair and make window treatments. Note how the dining room chairs feature two different complimentary prints. I guess you could call this French Country "American Style."
Pictures compliments of Calico Corners catalog. Visit Calico Corners to see all the beautiful fabrics, trims and furniture they offer.

French Country Style Herbed Oils, Vinegars and Vegetables

Create these beautiful bottles using ingredients from your own garden, or purchase necessary quantities from your local grocer. I highly stress that these homemade herbed vinegars and oils be for decorative purposes only because of botulism concerns. To read more about this, click here.

Herbed Olive Oils and Vinegars

Provencal Oil
In a decorative only bottle, place sprigs of rosemary, thyme, and basil. Add peeled cloves of garlic and whole red and black peppercorns. Pour vegetable oil in bottle, seal tightly with cork.

Mediterranean Oil
In a decorative only bottle, place sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Add mandarin oranges. Pour vegetable oil in bottle and seal with cork.

Mexican Oil
In a decorative only bottle, place sprigs of cilantro and parsley. Add whole red peppers and cloves of peeled garlic. Add whole jalapenos for color. Pour vegetable oil into bottle and seal with cork.

Herbed Red Wine Vinegar
In a decorative only bottle, add rosemary, bay and thyme. Pour red wine vinegar or wine colored water in bottle and seal with cork.

These bottles are pretty if you dip the corked ends into colored wax. To do this, simply melt a few ounces of kitchen parafin wax that you can purchase at any grocery store. Melt the wax in a clean soup can placed in a boiling saucepan of water. Use oven mits to prevent burning yourself. When the wax has melted, add a few drops of red food coloring, and stir with a wooden skewer or popsicle stick. Carefully dip the corked end of the bottle a few inches into the wax. Run under cool water to immediately harden.
Add a bow of natural raffia and a handprinted card noting the "flavor" of your oils or vinegars.

** Note - if you give these as gifts, please write on the card that they are for decorative purposes only.**