Hints for the Household
by Edgar Wilson Nye
There are a great many pleasures to which we may treat ourselves very
economically if we go at it right. In this way we can, at a slight
expense, have those comforts, and even luxuries, for which we should
otherwise pay a great price.
Costly rugs and carpets, though beautiful and rich in appearance,
involve such an outlay of money that many hesitate about buying them;
but a very tasty method of treating floors inexpensively consists in
staining the edge for several feet in width, leaving the center of the
room to be covered by a large rug. Staining for the floor maybe easily
made, by boiling maple bark, twenty parts; pokeberry juice,
twenty-five parts; hazel brush, thirty parts, and sour milk, twenty-five
parts, until it becomes about the consistency of the theory of infant
damnation. Let it stand a few weeks, until the rich flavor has died
down, so that you can look at it for quite a while without nausea; then
add vinegar and copperas to suit the taste, and apply by means of a
whisk broom. When dry, help yourself to some more of it. This gives the
floor a rich pauper's coffin shade, over which shellac or cod liver oil
should be applied.
Rugs may be made of coffee sacking or Turkish gunny-rest sacks, inlaid
with rich designs in red yarn, and a handsome fringe can be added by
raveling the edges.
A beautiful receptacle for soiled collars and cuffs may be made by
putting a cardboard bottom in a discarded and shattered coal scuttle,
gilding the whole and tying a pale blue ribbon on the bail.
A cheap and very handsome easy-chair can be constructed by sawing into a
flour barrel and removing less than half the length of staves for
one-third the distance around, then fasten inside a canvas or duck seat,
below which the barrel is filled with bran.
A neat little mackerel tub makes a most appropriate foot-stool for this
chair, and looks so unconventional and rustic that it wins every one at
once. Such a chair should also have a limited number of tidies on its
surface. Otherwise it might give too much satisfaction. A good style of
inexpensive tidy is made by poking holes in some heavy, strong goods,
and then darning up these holes with something else. The darned tidy
holds its place better, I think, and is more frequently worn away on the
back of the last guest than any other.
This list might be prolonged almost indefinitely, and I should be glad
to write my own experience in the line of experiment, if it were not for
the danger of appearing egotistical. For instance, I once economized in
the matter of paper-hanging, deciding that I would save the
paper-hanger's bill and put the money into preferred trotting stock.
So I read a recipe in a household hint, which went on to state how one
should make and apply paste to wall paper, how to begin, how to apply
the paper, and all that. The paste was made by uniting flour, water and
glue in such a way as to secure the paper to the wall and yet leave it
smooth, according to the recipe. First the walls had to be "sized,"
My idea was to apply it to the wall mostly, but the
chair tipped, and so I papered the piano and my wife on the way down (Page 36)
I took a tape-measure and sized the walls.
Next I began to prepare the paste and cook some in a large milk-pan. It
looked very repulsive indeed, but it looked so much better than it
smelled, that I did not mind. Then I put about five cents' worth of it
on one roll of paper, and got up on a chair to begin. My idea was to
apply it to the wall mostly, but the chair tipped, and so I papered the
piano and my wife on the way down. My wife gasped for breath, but soon
tore a hole through the paper so she could breathe, and then she laughed
at me. That is the reason I took another end of the paper and repapered
her face. I can not bear to have any one laugh at me when I am myself
It was good paste, if you merely desired to disfigure a piano or a wife,
but otherwise it would not stick at all. I did not like it. I was mad
about it. But my wife seemed quite stuck on it. She hasn't got it all
out of her hair yet.
Then a man dropped in to see me about some money that I had hoped to pay
him that morning, and he said the paste needed more glue and a quart of
molasses. I put in some more glue and the last drop of molasses we had
in the house. It made a mass which looked like unbaked ginger snaps, and
smelled as I imagine the deluge did at low tide.
I next proceeded to paper the room. Sometimes the paper would adhere,
and then again it would refrain from adhering. When I got around the
room I had gained ground so fast at the top and lost so much time at the
bottom of the walls, that I had to put in a wedge of paper two feet wide
at the bottom, and tapering to a point at the top, in order to cover the
space. This gave the room the appearance of having been toyed with by an
impatient cyclone, or an air of inebriety not in keeping with my poor
but honest character.
I went to bed very weary, and abraded in places. I had paste in my
pockets, and bronze up my nose. In the night I could hear the paper
crack. Just as I would get almost to sleep, it would pop. That was
because the paper was contracting and trying to bring the dimensions of
the room I own to fit it.
In the morning the room had shrunken so that the carpet did not fit, and
the paper hung in large molasses-covered welts on the walls. It looked
real grotesque. I got a paper-hanger to come and look at it. He did so.
"And what would you advise me to do with it, sir?" I asked, with a
degree of deference which I had never before shown to a paper-hanger.
"Well, I can hardly say at first. It is a very bad case. You see, the
glue and stuff have made the paper and wrinkles so hard now, that it
would cost a great deal to blast it off. Do you own the house?"
"Yes, sir. That is, I have paid one-half the purchase-price, and there
is a mortgage for the balance."
"Oh. Well, then you are all right," said the paper-hanger, with a gleam
of hope in his eye. "Let it go on the mortgage."
Then I had to economize again, so I next resorted to the home method of
administering the Turkish bath. You can get a Turkish bath in that way
at a cost of four and one-half to five cents, which is fully as good as
one that will cost you a dollar or more in some places.
I read the directions in a paper. There are two methods of administering
the low-price Turkish bath at home. One consists in placing the person
to be treated in a cane-seat chair, and then putting a pan of hot water
beneath this chair. Ever and anon a hot stone or hot flat-iron is
dropped into the water by means of tongs, and thus the water is kept
boiling, the steam rising in thick masses about the person in the chair,
who is carefully concealed in a large blanket. Every time a hot
flat-iron or stone is dropped into the pan it spatters the boiling water
on the bare limbs of the person who is being operated upon, and if you
are living in the same country with him, you will hear him loudly
wrecking his chances beyond the grave by stating things that are really
The other method, and the one I adopted, is better than this. You apply
the heat by means of a spirit lamp, and no one, to look at a little
fifteen cent spirit lamp, would believe that it had so much heat in it
till he has had one under him as he sits in a wicker chair.
A wicker chair does not interfere with the lamp at all, or cut off the
heat, and one is so swathed in blankets and rubber overcoats that he
can't help himself.
I seated myself in that way, and then the torch was applied. Did the
reader ever get out of a bath and sit down on a wire brush in order to
put on his shoes, and feel a sort of startled thrill pervade his whole
being? Well, that is good enough as far as it goes, but it does not
really count as a sensation, when you have been through the Home
Treatment Turkish Bath.
My wife was in another room reading a new book in which she was greatly
interested. While she was thus storing her mind with information, she
thought she smelled something burning. She went all around over the
house trying to find out what it was. Finally she found out.
It was her husband. I called to her, of course, but she wanted me to
wait until she had discovered what was on fire. I tried to tell her to
come and search my neighborhood, but I presume I did not make myself
understood, because I was excited, and my personal epidermis was being
singed off in a way that may seem funny to others, but was not so to one
who had to pass through it.
It bored me quite a deal. Once the wicker seat of the chair caught fire.
"Oh, heavens," I cried, with a sudden pang of horror, "am I to be thus
devoured by the fire fiend? And is there no one to help? Help! Help!
I also made use of other expressions but they did not add to the sense
of the above.
I perspired very much, indeed, and so the bath was, in a measure, a
success, but oh, what doth it profit a man to gain a bath if he lose his