Home Comforts

The study of bees

The study of bees

Back…. Way back: I learned a lesson from my Mother and Father. It was to care for ones belongings. In this day of furniture with an expiration dates due to poor quality of home designed items, I found it necessary for refresher course on caring for a wood collection of well designed furniture in an organic and natural way. 

Immediately, what comes to mind is a piece of furniture from my youth that my parents had positioned stately near our front door. A roll top Scandinavian designed desk.  A great place for keys, hiding mail, and unloading our daily pockets. Mind you, my bother and I were never to take advantage of its many drawers, mechanics, and storage possibilities for our childlike collections, for this was a cherished piece of importance in my parent’s eyes. It’s location and structure I will remember forever. 

I was always intrigued by the way the solid bowed curved door came to a close as well as all of the secret compartments that held mementos, movie tickets, photos and postal stamps. Along with a few miscellaneous keys, to this day I have no idea what they unlocked. 

Hard at work

Hard at work

The color was a blondish Teak Wood, complete with a beautiful grain that ran through all of the drawers with decorative minimalistic carvings. --- Getting off the beaten path here with all of my reminiscing, we had to care for this piece with it seasonal cleaning, maintaining and polishing.  Oh, how I dreaded those days when my Mother would say “Cleaning Day” for I would much rather spend my time out of doors exploring and challenging my youth with all of death defying feats I could dream up. 

She wins as always. And so we begin the process, not scheduled, but any time it was needed in her eyes. Understanding the process of mechanics and engineering behind the products today they knew how to properly care for their belongings, a process many people write about today. I now realize how my parents were before their time or I perhaps I wasn’t listening at the time… I prefer the prior. 

In any case, we always started this ritual the same way. Clean with soapy water, dry, finishing with turpentine, today we call it terpeniod combined with linseed oil. The mix was one part terpeniod, with two parts oil. More or less depending on sun damage, watermarks, wear or tear or the like. 

A study in watercolor and gauche  

A study in watercolor and gauche

 

After a day of drying and care, it was time to buff and wax. My mother somehow concocted a mix of bees’ wax and essential oils that smelled a bit like herb garden at the time. I’m not sure how she came up with the mix today. It must have been something passed on by her family. 

Today, I use a concoction made by my friend William Varney, and organic gardener that knows just about everything for gardening, cooking, entertaining to just giving great advise concerning the home. In our talks, I was thrilled he knew exactly what I was speaking of not only for the preservation and care of items but the renewals of sprit that my parents had instilled within me for the care of home.  He has come up with a signature paste wax of pure bees wax, scented with lemongrass and sage. Described in one word, heaven. If you have a chore as big as this, it might as well be enjoyable.

William Varney's love: An organic lifestyle. Jump with a click of his logo to learn more

William Varney's love: An organic lifestyle. Jump with a click of his logo to learn more

A must have for the new homeowner as well as the old. Jump with a click to learn more. 

A must have for the new homeowner as well as the old. Jump with a click to learn more. 

 

What initially brought my attention to this subject; yes, quite boring to some; of polishing and caring for wooden items of furniture was a snippet of an article I had found in country living UK. “Something to Make” scented wax polish, gifts from the garden by Deborah Robertson. Along with a few pages torn out of a 2010 Martha Stewart magazine entitled “Furniture First Aid” and my personal copy of a book everyone should have, as a go to for the care of everything “home” entitled Home comforts, the Art and Science of Keeping a Home by Cheryl Mendelsom published 1999.  A great reference for the care and joys of home care.  Today, You’ll find me in the midst of late summer tasks thanks to William and all of the mentioned above, including my parents… 

To my parents, thanks for keeping me indoors for a few moments to learn a lesson or two and for never letting me know where the keys were kept for that desk… 

Water

 

As the Summer season approaches its peak, and the news concerning safe water in our schools, homes as well as our beaches are becoming more relevant than ever. Here in Chicago, quite a few of our schools have had the drinking fountains shut off until they can bring down the lead levels; Our lakefront, at times also has had high levels of bacteria forcing them to close until they reach safety requirements for swimming; Our older homes often fall victim to hazardous minerals due to older pipes…  

This dilemma is just not only in my neck of the woods—Flint Michigan has been front-page news for some time, as well as several developing countries seeking safe drinking water. Just the other day I had turned on the television and caught “Trouble in the Water” an HBO documentary that really got me thinking, “How safe is our water?” 

Martha Stweart July:August2016.jpg

In addition, an article by Virginia Sole-Smith in the latest Martha Stewart Magazine addresses this issue in Healthy Living. She suggests, becoming your own inspector of the home alongside sharing a neighborhood-activist level of involvement with members of the community to prevent, conserve and become proactive. The excerpt is below.

Take the Test:

“If you want to be more assured, there are loads of easy at home kits that will analyze the amount of minerals (including lead) and bacteria in your water… They are readily available through your local hardware store… You can also request one from the nonprofit alliance for Healthy Babies Bright Future (hbbf.org) its fee based on what you can afford to pay.” 

 

During this Sumer we all know how water plays an important role in the season and in our lives. Take the time to ensure the safety of your water. I have requested the test and hope you’ll do the same. It’s better to know and take action.