Annie Payne column Aug. 15, 2009

Annie Payne looks back at a year of Home and Garden

Annie Payne shows a friend how to decorate a table.

I’ve been writing articles for the Home and Garden section of The Daily Sentinel for a year, plus some. I can’t tell you how much satisfaction it has brought me. I appreciate all the feedback from my fellow “Homies” (Home and Garden enthusiasts) via letters, e-mails or being stopped for a chat in the mall.

One Homie even sent me a book on how to “restore my soul.” I didn’t know it needed restoring, but, I’m open to the possibility. Everyone could use some fresh paint and spackle on their soul every now and then, right?

I clip and save every article I write. Sitting down the other day to catch up on my scrapbook, I decided that some of my articles deserved a re-run.

Here are a few excerpts from some of my favorites:

• This first is from my first article and addresses my personal philosophy on what a home should be like.

Annie Payne offers her advice on making your house a home,” Saturday, May 17, 2008.
The best thing I have done as a homemaker is to heed the good counsel of others.

Erma Bombeck’s advice took the sting out of not having everything perfect all the time with this clever quip,

“Cleaning the house while kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk while it’s still snowing.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve repeated that mantra in my head. As much as I would love to have my home look like the cover of a magazine, the reality is a home doesn’t have to be picture perfect.

I believe a home should be a haven for all who live there. It should be orderly, functional and comfortable. It should be a place that you look forward to returning to each day.

• My sister, Lori, a wardrobe consultant, loves dressing a table as much as she loves dressing her clients. She shared with me some of her tips for the use and care of table linens.

“Tablecloths, place mats, and napkins,” Saturday, Aug. 2, 2008.

• is a Web site that has instructions and pictures on how to fold cloth napkins.

• Use a rod in your walk-in pantry or hall closet to hold hangers filled with tablecloths. This keeps tablecloths from getting wrinkled.

• If your collection of napkins is small, keep them rolled up and upright in a basket on the counter near the table. They will be decorative as well as close at hand.

• Keep napkin rings in drawers with dividers, much like how you would store jewelry.

• Don’t be intimidated by table linens. If you have never collected linens, start with one set of at least four place settings of coordinating mats, napkins, and napkin rings that can be easily maintained by laundering or wiping clean. They are widely available at many price points.

Lori adds, “I want to present my home in the best light possible. Just like the perfect outfit can make a great first impression, table linens can make your family and guests feel like you were expecting them, and their presence makes every day a special occasion.”

•A few pop-in visits inspired me to share my tools for getting the house ship-shape in a hurry.

“Spiffy in a jiffy: Favorite cleaning tools for quick results,” Saturday, June 21, 2008.

•“The Dyson” — To call it just a vacuum would be insulting. You have to refer to it by its proper name. For instance, if you own a Mercedes, you don’t call it “the car,” you refer to it as “The Mercedes.”

• I’ve owned “The Dyson” for five years. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to see all the dust and debris swirling around in the bag-less container. Dyson needs to send me a big fat commission check, because I have personally sold over a dozen friends and family on “The Dyson.”

• Telescoping Feather Duster — I bought my Telescoping Feather Duster at The Container Store in Denver, although they are widely available. It’s great for ceiling fans, chandeliers, plant shelves, and vaulted ceilings. With my arm extended over my head, this 5-foot-3-inch homemaker (I know I look taller in my picture) can reach up to 14 feet.

• Microfiber Mop — The biggest selling point about a microfiber mop is the removable pads. I just toss the soiled pads in the washing machine when I’m done. The mop is long and narrow and swivels on its handle, which makes quick work of mopping large spaces and, also, makes it easy to mop small spaces, like around and behind toilets.

• Microfiber Dusting Gloves and Cleaning Cloths — Microfiber clothes are easier on your furniture and pick up more lint and hair than rags or paper towels. Microfiber is also great on chrome and can be used with or without cleaner.

I use the microfiber gloves to clean my blinds. My fingers slide easily between the slats and the gloves protect my hands from the dusty mess. This is also a good job to hand over to the children. When the job is finished, just toss them into the washer (the gloves not the kids).

• Sprayway Glass Cleaner — Windex is considered the grandmammy of all glass cleaners, but my favorite glass cleaner is Sprayway. It comes out as a foam and smells great. Sprayway is available at Target and Ace Hardware.

When my friend’s family spent 10 days without electricity after Hurricane Ike, I began thinking about my own family’s preparedness for an emergency. Here is an excerpt from my article on food storage.

“On a mission to be prepared,” Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008.

A little here, a little there

You can start your family on the path to preparedness by buying one or two extra items at the store each week. Buying extra cans of soup or pancake mix each time you go shopping is an easy way to start storing food without breaking the family budget.

You can do it with canning

My parents have a single peach tree in their backyard. We call them “Molly’s Peaches” after the faithful family dog that is buried next to the tree.

Each September, the women in our family get together to can “Molly’s Peaches.” I found myself relishing in the process: the picking, the blanching, the pitting, the slicing, the boiling, and the sealing.

I love knowing that if I want to make peach cobbler in January, the jars will be waiting for me in the pantry.

I can’t see into the future. I don’t know if the economy will get better or worse, but I do know that whatever happens…we’ll have peaches.

• After my dad received two live lobsters for his birthday, I shared the do’s and don’ts of how to get them from tank to table.

“Lobster Gram makes dad’s birthday a memorable one,” Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008.

• The lobsters come with wide rubber bands on the claws. Do keep these on until the lobster is ready to serve.

• Do take pictures. The instructions that come with the lobsters suggested rubbing the lobsters belly to put them in a trance before boiling. Lobster charming would be an excellent addition to any family album.

• Do wear protective eyewear. Remember you will be dealing with boiling water and potentially irritated and jet-lagged lobsters. And the protective eyewear looks funny in the pictures.

• Don’t name the lobsters and don’t talk about what they must be thinking. It takes some of the joy out of eating them.

• Don’t put the lobsters in the pot and go for a walk. It only takes about 10 minutes to boil a lobster. Stay close to the pot and watch the lobsters turn bright red. It’s part of the show.

• Don’t forget the melted butter to dip that delicious, salty white meat in. Just like you can’t have a birthday cake without candles, you can’t have lobster without melted butter.

My scrapbook is all caught up, now. I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. Keep the feedback coming, write a letter, send an e-mail, or stop me in the mall. Here’s to another year of Home and Gardening and here’s to your soul, new spackle and all.

For more on an unpredictable variety of topics, visit Annie Payne’s blog at “” or follow her on Twitter,


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