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Hints for the Household by Edgar Wilson Bill 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,” however.

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 unhappy.

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.

[Illustration: 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)

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 wrong.

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! 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 own soul?


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