Braided Rugs, History In The Making
Crafting a quality braided rug is an art form and a uniquely American one at that. The tradition of handmade braided rugs started in New England during the Colonial period and continues today with family-owned Rhody Rug, Inc. in Providence, Rhode Island.
Rhody Rug President Ronnie Agrela is a first generation Portuguese immigrant, who came to America at age 14. Owner of Rhody Rug since 1987, Ronnie has been in the rug-making business for 47 years, and he has a combined 75 years experience with his company’s CFO, brother-in-law Manny Martins.
Both Ronnie and Manny are involved in all levels of the family business. Their enthusiasm for rug making and lifelong dedication to the craft are evident in all aspects from design, manufacturing and quality control to inventory management and fulfillment.
Rhody Rug and Plow & Hearth have a long history of solid partnership, dating back to the 1990s. Rhody Rug creates unique designs and color combinations exclusively for Plow & Hearth and is a recipient of our Vendor of the Year Award.
It’s What’s Inside That Counts: Hallmarks Of A Quality Braid
“All stuff and no fluff” is Ronnie’s motto. When it comes to braided rugs, Rhody Rug true flat braids are superior to their flimsy tubular counterparts, which often feature shoddy fibers, paper cores and more filler than surface yarns.
Rhody Rug true flat braids feature a knit tube inner that forms a cushion within the braid, offering longevity, softness underfoot and flexibility without distortion. The rugs lay flat and don’t curl. Their seamless construction ensures no weak spots.
Rhody Rug hand-stitches their rugs together with Clearlon
® T-50, a high-quality nylon monofilament thread that exceeds industry standards and offers exceptional strength and durability.
Rhody Rug braids have a real heft and fullness to them. You can see and feel the difference in their quality construction and materials.
Made in America, Down To The Last Thread
Every Rhody Rug is 100% American made. All materials – every thread and fiber – are sourced from American suppliers and manufacturers. Each braided rug is quality-crafted in the Rhode Island facility. With just 20 employees in the family-run business, Ronnie and Manny are often seen crafting the rugs themselves.
Rhody Rug is truly a hands-on company and a real American success story. Ronnie, Manny and their entire team take great pride in the tradition of braided rugs and it’s evident in every rug they make.
Find the perfect Rhody Rug for your home – shop our collection of
Braided Rugs and coordinating Chair Pads and Stair Treads.
Learn why you can’t go wrong with a Rhody Rug – watch our
video to see why these rugs are so great!
Rising energy costs have you worrying about your utility bills this winter? With a “whole house” approach to heating, you can save money and stay warm. Here are some ideas for keeping your bill low while you keep your house toasty:
Keep Heat From Sneaking Out Your Windows And Doors
Did you know that the average household spends 40% of energy related costs on heating and cooling their home? Sure, windows and doors add the value and pleasure of fresh air and sunlight, but they come at a cost of trading home heat with the cold outdoors through air leaks and radiant heat lost through window glass. Here are some products designed to pay for themselves by keeping the cold air out and the warm air in your house:
A 1/32"gap around a 36" x 60" window is the same as having a 6" hole open to the outside. Hang double-layer insulated curtains and you’ll feel the difference immediately. Reduce heat loss by as much as 44% by blocking air drafts and stopping radiant heat loss through windows.
Curtains are available in tab-top or grommet-top with a wide variety of colors and patterns to choose from.
Door Bottom Draftstoppers
A 1/8" gap at the bottom of a 36" door is the same as having a 4 1/2" hole at the bottom of your door. You can imagine how much cold air that lets in! A simple insulated Draftstopper is an easy way to keep the cold air out and reduce your heating bill.
Draftstoppers come in several different styles, ranging from balsam needle filled for solid, aromatic insulation to sturdy foam and polyester fill that stops drafts cold. They also come in solid colors that blend into your décor, whimsical designs and even holiday themes to add to your seasonal décor. Double-sided draftstoppers stay with the door as it opens and closes, and is especially effective on interior doors to stop air movement from room to room when zone heating.
Chimneys–Use Them Or Lose Them
A lot of low-cost heat can be generated through burning wood in a fireplace or wood stove, but some of that heat is lost up the chimney, and the warm air often needs to be moved into cooler rooms. When you’re not using your fireplace, keep the damper closed — this will stop up to 8% of furnace-heated air from going up the chimney. Fireplaces that are seldom used should be blocked.
Here are some construction-free ideas for maximizing fireplace and wood stove heat:
The fireplace damper can’t be closed until the fire is completely out. This results in warm air escaping through the chimney. Solid panels (like our folding steel Night Guard) can placed in front of a fireplace opening to keep some of this warm air from being pulled up the chimney.
Steel Fireplace Night Gaurds
Reflectors are a great way to maximize heat from your fireplace, preventing heat from escaping through the chimney and reflecting it back into your home. Stainless steel reflectors stand behind the fireplace grate and reflect up to 80% more radiant heat into the room. They continue to work even if discolored by flames or soot. Use them with gas logs as well to raise the overall heat output of any fireplace.
Cast iron fire backs are a traditional way of throwing more radiant heat out of the fireplace and into the room. They also serve to protect the bricks in heavily used fireplaces and add a nice decorative touch to the look of the fireplace when not in use.
Moving Warm Air From Room To Room
Help even out the heat through your whole house by using a fan to keep the warm air circulating.
Stove Powered Ecofans are a high tech solution to an age-old challenge. The heat from the top of the wood stove is turned into electricity that powers these safe and quiet fans. The hotter the stove top the faster the fan runs, up to 150 cfm, helping to de-stratify the warm air and get it moving around the house.
Caframo Heat-Circulating Stove Powered Ecofans
The corner doorway fan is one of the most useful tools for effective heating with wood. Mount it in the corner of a door or hallway and it will move 100 cfm of warm air quietly and efficiently from room to room around the house.
Heat The Whole House Or The Room You Are In?
Zone heating is an increasingly popular method of staying as warm as you like without heating unused space. According to the
Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, zonal heating can provide energy savings of 20-40%. Use an electric stove, fireplace or space heater to heat the room you are using rather than turning up the thermostat to heat the whole house. Choices range from portable, space saving heaters to full sized electric fireplace mantels. Back to Top
Our article on how to be a good host offers you some great tips on how to make your guests feel comfortable and ensure they have a good time. But how about when you’re the guest? To ensure your hosts will be glad they invited you, follow these handy tips:
The #1 Rule
In our other article, we mentioned that the key to being a great host is to make your guests feel at home. To ensure a repeat invitation, however, a good guest never, ever forgets that he or she is not at home. Behave too freely in your hosts’ home and, instead of asking you back, they’ll breathe a sigh of relief as they close the door behind you!
Here are some good points of etiquette to remember when visiting someone’s home:
Don't arrive empty-handed.
It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive, but to enter a home bearing
gifts is a great way to show your appreciation for your host’s willingness to take you into her home. If you’re only attending a day or evening event, some homemade or store-bought goody that can be shared with your host’s family and other guests right away is a good choice, like a bottle of wine, or a side dish or dessert. Another good option is a bouquet of flowers or a plant, preferably one that comes in its own container (that way your host won’t have to stop what she’s doing in order to find a vase).
Home décor items, particularly those with a holiday theme, also make excellent host gifts. Unique centerpieces, ornaments or serve ware are all items that will be greatly appreciated. Or bring along a game that can accommodate the number of people and the ages of those who will be present during your visit so you can provide instant entertainment.
Keep and eye on the kids.
It can be tempting for parents of young children to take a break from refereeing the youngsters in order to catch up with the adults. Your brother may not have kids of his own, or your aunt’s kids may have been out of the nest for so long she’s no longer used to having children. Bring toys, games, books, or videos with which to entertain your children so they won’t be bored if your hosts didn’t think of providing any entertainment for them. Encourage your older kids to bring along their favorite portable pastimes. If your children are small, take a quick look around for anything dangerous that your childless hosts might not have thought of putting away or barricading. Older kids should be warned before you arrive not to go “exploring” – bedrooms other than the one designated as theirs are off-limits, and closed doors need to be respected (this is for their own safety as well as courtesy to your hosts). Kids of all ages need to keep to the rooms and floors in which your hosts make it clear they are welcome.
During the holidays, hosts and guests alike tend to congregate in the kitchen while meals are being prepared, and so children subsequently tend to wander in and out of that area. Discourage this, or at least keep an eye on them – hot dishes being passed around can prove hazardous. And remember, your hosts aren’t built-in babysitters. Even at a doting Grandma’s house, your kids are still your responsibility.
Show a healthy respect for property.
Take it with a grain of salt when your host says, “My home is your home,” or “help yourself.” She may really mean it, but it’s always better to be safe. Poking into cabinets, closets or dressers without asking is bad enough – using what you find is even worse! Hopefully your host will have thought of providing what you need, but if she hasn’t, ask to borrow an extra blanket or hair dryer. Ask also before taking a closer look at something that interests you (e.g. “I see you have a copy of War And Peace on your bookshelf…would it be all right if I took a look at it?”). Same goes for food – if your host tells you to help yourself to “whatever’s in the fridge,” be cognizant if you see a homemade pie that hasn’t been cut into yet – your host may have forgotten it was there, but was planning on serving it at dinner the next day!
Treat your host’s belongings as though they’re the most valuable items in the world, even if they appear to have no value. That tattered old afghan may have been stitched by your host’s great-aunt Martha (so don’t leave it on the floor); that battered old book may be a first edition (so use a bookmark to save your place). And always put whatever you use back where you found it. Your hosts will appreciate your handling their things respectfully.
Respect the rules of the house.
When in Rome, it’s always a good idea to do as the Romans do. The way you run your household may be light years away from how your hosts run theirs, and you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes – be observant of how they do things, and if you’re not sure, ask. Here are some good tips to keep in mind from the start:
Don’t leave a footprint. Some homeowners make a point of not wearing shoes inside the house – if you’re not sure, ask. You may even want to bring along a pair of your favorite (clean) slippers; that way, your hosts will see that you’re making yourself comfortable and you won’t have to worry about tracking dirt onto their carpets.
Eat and drink in designated areas. Where the food and drinks are being served is generally where they should stay – there and the areas where the socializing is taking place. Don’t take food into other rooms or areas without a go-ahead from your hosts; make sure the kids do the same.
Pick up after yourself. Your hosts likely went to some trouble to make sure you were welcomed into a clean, neat home – help them keep it that way by straightening up after yourself. Keep your things in your room when you’re not using them, and put your hosts’ things (like the TV remote or the newspaper) back where you found them when you’re finished them, both to maintain a tidy appearance and so they’re easy to find again.
Make the bed. Many guests strip their beds on their last morning, thinking (correctly) that their hosts will want to change them and that by stripping the bed for them they’re saving their hosts an extra step. This is a good thought, and you should certainly do it if your hosts ask, but a better idea is simply to make it up – that way the room will look neat and presentable in case there’s some reason your hosts can’t get to the bed right away.
Say thank you.
Heartfelt thanks on your way out the door is a must, but don’t forget to send a thank you note. Just a short note in your own handwriting, reiterating how much you appreciated the invitation and the effort your hosts made to make you comfortable will go far toward making them feel happy they invited you, and eager to ask you back at a later time.
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The holidays are fast approaching, which means you may find yourself with a houseful of guests. The number one goal of every host should be to make their guests feel as at home as possible, and these do-in-advance tips can help you offer the warmest welcome possible.
Get a head’s up on likes/dislikes and other special requests. Find out ahead of time what your guests like to eat or drink and stock up on those items. Do they prefer coffee or tea? Fat-free milk or 2%? If kids are coming, what breakfast cereals do they prefer? Any special dietary needs (diabetic, vegan, lactose- or gluten-intolerant)? Be sure to ask about any allergies (that includes food, pets, scents and cleaning products).
Clean. Welcoming your guests into a clean, neat home is more about showing them respect and ensuring they’re comfortable than it is about trying to impress. Make sure your entire home is clean and tidy, paying special attention to the guest bedroom and bathroom, kitchen, and any areas where your guests will spend time. If you have pets, limit their access to your guest room ahead of time in case your visitors are sensitive to pet dander. Consider leaving a bouquet of flowers in your guest bedroom or refreshing it and the guest bath with a citrus spray or essential oils (inquire about allergies first). • If there’s anything you don’t want your guests to see or touch, put it away before they arrive. (It’s a good idea to remove breakable items from the guest bedroom, particularly if children are staying in them. This isn’t about a lack of trust so much as providing a stress-free environment!) • Close off rooms or areas that you want to remain off-limits, and lock them if possible. Prepare the guest room. One of the best ways to gauge the comfort of your guest room is to spend the night in it. That way, you’ll experience for yourself how comfortable the bed is, whether or not there’s a draft, and if the window needs a blackout curtain to keep the morning sun from waking sleepers prematurely. Insulated Curtains • Empty a drawer or two in the guest room dresser, and leave space in the closet along with plenty of extra hangers. If you have a rack for a suitcase, set it up in a convenient spot. Clear off the top of the dresser, nightstands or desk so your guests will have room to set things down. • Make sure the bed is cozy and inviting, with clean sheets and plenty of bedding. Many people sleep “warm,” so a good rule of thumb when it comes to temperature is to set the thermostat a little lower at night and “layer” the bed with lighter blankets instead of providing a single, heavy cover that only allows a guest the choice of being either too hot or too cold. Stow an extra blanket or two on the closet shelf in your guest room, and be sure to let your guests know they are there. Extra pillows (plan on two per person) are a good idea, too. • Adequate lighting is important. Whether or not you have an overhead light, do provide a bedside lamp (headboard lamps are a great option if you don’t have room for a nightstand). And if there’s going to be more than one person staying in the room, put one on each side of the bed. Be sure the bulbs work. • Include a small wastebasket with a liner in it, along with a box of tissues. • Bare floors can be chilly in the mornings, so you might want to consider putting an accent rug on the floor next to the bed so your guests won’t get cold feet first thing. • Many people like having a fan for background noise even during the winter, so if you don’t have a ceiling fan, put a small tabletop fan on the dresser. Your guests might also appreciate a working alarm clock and a telephone. Prepare the guest bathroom. The guest bathroom should be clean, with a well-lit vanity, pretty shower curtain and a bath mat. • Leave out clean bath towels, hand towels and washcloths for each guest, and be sure to let them know where they can find extras easily (in an accessible linen closet or in the guest bedroom closet). • Just as in the guest bedroom, a wastebasket with a liner will be much appreciated, as will a rug in front of the vanity to protect feet from a cold floor. An absorbent bath mat in front of the tub or shower stall is also a good idea. • Protect guests from a slip in the tub or shower with a mat or some other non-slip surface. • Make sure there’s room on the vanity for your guests’ toiletries, but do leave out a box of tissues, a toothbrush holder and a soap dish. A paper cup dispenser loaded with cups is also a good idea. • Stock up the medicine chest with soap, toothpaste, shampoo and body lotion in case your guests may have forgotten to bring these things. A bottle of pain reliever, comb and brush and an extra hair dryer are also great if you have room. (Be sure to let your guests know these things are available for them when you show them the bathroom.) • Finding your way around a strange house at night can be a challenge. Leave a nightlight in the guest bath to help guests looking for a light switch. Nightlights Stock up the pantry. Plan meals ahead of time, and make sure to have ingredients and tableware on hand in case your guests stay longer than you planned. • Make sure to have plenty of drinks, including coffee, tea, soda and juice. If you don’t have room for cold drinks in your refrigerator, get a bag or two of ice. • Plan to make breakfast for your guests at least once. French toast or scrambled eggs with sausage are easy to make for a crowd. Breakfast cereal, bagels, bread for toast, jellies and jam, milk and juice will do for most mornings. • For afternoons and evenings, have snacks and savories ready, including chips with dip, cheese and pepperoni, and cold vegetables sliced ahead of time.
Make sure your guests know when you expect them, and greet them cheerfully when they arrive. Say hello to each person individually (this includes kids and pets) rather than just saying a general “hi” to the entire group.
• Immediately take your guests’ coats and hang them up, being sure they know where to find them again. If you prefer your guests to remove their shoes, have a place to safely stow them so they are not piled untidily in a corner. Rooster Coat Rack • Right away, give guests a brief tour of your home so they can find the important rooms (such as the bathroom) for themselves. Show them where they will be sleeping so they can put their luggage down. • Keep pets out of the way during the arrival. Once the tour is completed, introduce your guests to your pets (this is especially important for dogs, who may see your guests as intruders). If any of your pets need to be left alone, now is the time to make that clear. • Invite your guests to sit down, and offer them something to drink. This is a great time to catch up! Now that you’re all ready for the big arrival, check out our tips for ensuring your visit goes smoothly and your guests have a good time! Back to Top
You put clean sheets on the guest bed and stocked up the pantry – now the guests are about to arrive, and it’s time to show you’re the host with the most! Keep these tips in mind to ensure your overnight guests enjoy their stay.
To ensure everything goes smoothly and everyone has a relaxed and happy time, keep a few things in mind:
• Always make sure your guests know what’s expected of them. Be considerate but clear about what areas are off limits, designated eating areas, and mealtimes. Flexibility is fine, but guests will appreciate knowing the rules of the house ahead of time. • When gathering for a meal, be clear about where everyone is to sit. Place cards put out in advance are helpful, or just direct everyone (do it before you serve the meal so people aren’t milling around in confusion). Keep parents next to small children so they can help them if necessary. Always serve guests first. • Give your guests an idea of what time you generally get up in the morning and, if planning a sit-down breakfast, what time you expect to eat. Make sure to leave out the fixings for coffee and tea in case your guests get up before you. (Tip: have non-caloric sweetener on hand as well as sugar or honey.) • Give your full attention to your guests. Don’t take phone calls that can wait or engage in activities that exclude others (reading, watching TV, projects). • If your guests are bringing children with them, it’s a good idea to set aside an area just for them. If it’s in an area apart from where the adults are gathering, a TV with videos is fine. In any case, have items ready that the kids can entertain themselves with, such as toys, games, puzzles, or crayons and paper (no paints or other messy items!). Outdoor games are good, too, if the weather permits and you live in a safe area. • Have activities in mind, but be open and flexible to changes. Company comes first, so never say, “Now we’re going to do such and such;” instead, ask your guests, “Would you like to…?”
Be clear ahead of time when the visit is to end. If your guests need to leave at a certain time, be cognizant of that when planning meals or other activities on that day.
As they are leaving, show your guests to the door, thank them individually for coming, and express how much you loved having them. If they brought gifts, thank them again for the gift as they leave. Follow this up a few days later with a quick, informal note (handwritten is good, but an email is also fine) thanking them again for coming, and telling them how glad you were to see them.
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Curtains are the crowning touch in home decorating projects. Although window treatments definitely shouldn't be installed until all the messy work is done, you need to decide early in the planning stages what you want to accomplish by dressing your windows. You may want to make a room look larger or cozier or maybe you need to disguise some awful architectural feature or a wall-mounted air conditioner. Many of us simply want to let in light and minimize the neighbors' view. A well-chosen, properly installed window treatment is the answer!
What Style Is Your Room?
Window treatments define a room's style. Formal windows often include a combination of elements like pleated headers, sheers layered with heavier lined drapery, swags and jabots or valences. Complicated hardware can require professional installation and demanding fabrics may need dry cleaning.
In contrast, country windows tend to be simpler. Curtains may have casings, grommets or tab tops for the rods to slip through. With casings, you might have fancy finials on the ends of the rod, or the mount might include a narrow plate shelf above it. With tab tops, you generally see the entire length of the rod (even when the curtains are drawn), so consider the choices in metal, painted, and natural rods - they can recede into the woodwork or steal the show.
Curtain Rod Collection
The Choice Is Yours
When choosing your curtain length, it's all a matter of taste. Sill and apron lengths are less formal than floor length – you can hang them just skimming the floor (by about 1 1/2 - 2") or “puddle” them for a more elegant look.
Caught between the desire for more privacy and more light? Café Curtains are often the solution, with lots of possibilities in top valance treatments. You can raise the rod above the window to increase glass space or use two rods to hang a second valance in the same or a contrasting fabric. Include a graphic on how a valance looks.
Insulated Curtains offer a stylish and functional solution to window decorating. Insulated curtains work equally well in the winter and summer to reduce energy costs. Curtains lined with Thermalogic™ material reduce energy consumption by minimizing drafts and adding an additional layer of insulation.
Click here to view insulated curtains.
Insulated Curtains also keep out most sunlight, so you rest easier and sleep longer. In addition, they cut the glare on TV and computer screens, and reduce fading on carpets caused by direct sunlight.
For windows or glass doors, Window Shades offer a clean and fitted look. Covering just the glass portion, shades leave the trim and walls around the windows uncovered. Easy to raise and lower without cords, they’re a simple and functional solution to managing privacy and light at any window. Blackout shades completely prevent light from entering the room.
Cordless Roman Shades
Outdoor Curtains help keep your outdoor living spaces cool, shaded and private. Our collection includes outdoor panels made from durable, easy- to-clean and fade-resistant Olefin material that will block 85% of UV rays. Air can still flow through the material reducing temperatures by 30%. Tension rods are available for outdoor installations.
Measure Once…Then Do It Again!
Proper measuring is essential for a good fit. Use the below chart as a guide to get the measurements you need. Remember, the total area needs to be considered in terms of open and closed coverage.
Measure the length from the rod, but keep in mind that a casing may be several inches from the actual top of a ruffled curtain, and tab tops and grommet tops hang directly from the rod.
If you intend to pull curtains back with ties of some kind, you need to plan on more length so that the inner edge of the curtain still falls gracefully.
What To Do With Tiny, Dark Windows?
If you want to make a window look wider, attach wood blocks to the wall outside the upper corners of the molding, paint to match the walls, and mount the hardware on these blocks. You might gain as much as 6 inches on each side of a window, allowing more light to enter the room if the open curtains expose the entire glass area when they are entirely open.
For more height, mount the blocks above the corners of the molding and consider curtain styles with wide, ruffled rod casings to hide them. Also consider mounting rods inside the frame if you want to show off interesting antique woodwork or a specialty paint job.
Be sure to note the cleaning instructions for any curtains or drapery you buy, especially those for bathrooms or kitchens, which usually require more frequent cleaning. Look for easy-care fabrics that can be laundered at home, even if you want lined or insulated styles. After all, just because you want to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer, you don't need to sacrifice washability!
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Want to add a traditional touch to your home? Nothing says "classic Americana" like a braided rug. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they are old fashioned – they may have been around awhile, but they’ve always been practical, economical and environmentally friendly. And nowadays, they’re easy-care, too.
A Handmade Twist On American History
There was a time in this country when housewives not only made their family's clothing, they spun the yarn and wove the cloth, too! Every scrap of fabric was precious and nothing was thrown away. When clothing was torn, faded or no longer fit, the fabric was recycled into quilts and rugs.
Woven and hooked rugs are found worldwide, but braided rugs are uniquely American. The tradition, dependent on the availability of fabric, started in New England, which was also the birthplace of the American textile industry. Braiding was a craft that all women learned as girls, caring for their hair. It required almost no equipment and could be done with minimal lighting so it became a pleasant evening pastime in the days before electric lighting and evening television. The rugs provided early New Englanders with color, softness and warmth in their austere homes.
Bear Creek Wool Braids
In the mid 1900’s there was a huge resurgence of interest in rug making, and mills throughout the northeast sold fabric remnants by the pound for that purpose. Because both braiding and hooking use the same fabric scraps, there was often an overlap of techniques; hooked rugs were often finished with sturdy braided borders.
New Englanders are practical people, and “waste not, want not” and durability are well illustrated in their rugs. Braided rugs are extremely sturdy, longwearing, comfortable to walk on and easy to care for. Tightly braided and laced together, these rugs only required sweeping with a stiff straw broom and regular turning over to reverse the wear. Braided rugs are also very economical: most are reversible, which is like having two rugs in one! Removing gritty dirt is easy and prolongs the life of any rug. Rough shaking or beating on a line puts too much strain on the lacing that binds the braids together but they can be vacuumed - and should periodically be vacuumed on both sides. Depending on what fabric is used to make the rug, stains can be sponged away with soapy water, hosed off or professionally dry-cleaned. If your rugs are subject to heavy traffic, you can further equalize the wear by rotating them end-to-end. Braided rugs are tough.
Thanks to Polypropylene fiber, traditional-style braided rugs are now going outside on the porch, patio and deck. A country-style porch looks great with a long-lasting, low-maintenance braided rug. Woven from weatherproof polypropylene, these modern braids are soft, comfortable and durable. They dry fast so they won’t mildew and are UV-treated to resist sun-damage and fading. And best of all, they’re easy to clean – just hose them off!
Outdoor Braided Rugs
What To Look For In A Braided Rug
When deciding on a braided rug, fabric is the first thing to consider. Wool is a great choice because it’s durable, resists staining, molding and mildewing, and prevents spills from soaking through to the floor. Wool fibers can also withstand high temperatures, which make them ideal for fireside or hearthrugs. Wool rugs tend to keep their shapes very well, too.
Another popular choice for braided rugs is cotton. Soft and lightweight, cotton braided rugs soak up moisture and dry quickly. The non-elastic fibers can be woven very tightly, too, so cotton braided rugs hold their shape very well.
Braided rugs made from synthetic fibers are an excellent choice as well. Polypropylene fibers resist fading and can be hosed clean, which make them ideal for the deck or patio. Polyester rugs share some of the indoor/outdoor qualities of polypropylene rugs and are economical, too. Both materials resist mold and mildew.
How tightly a rug is assembled is a prime indicator of the rug’s quality. After all, it doesn’t matter how good the fabric or tight the braid if the lacing is weak. When you purchase a braided rug, look for tight braiding and tight stitching. Tightly braided rugs are heavier and firmer. They are thicker and softer to walk on and repel dirt better.
Finding The Fit
The size rug you buy depends on how much surrounding floor you want showing or covered. Furniture is usually placed entirely on or off an area rug, but traffic patterns and your furniture might dictate differently. Allow rugs to extend 30-36" beyond the chairs at a dining or kitchen table so that the chairs don’t catch as they pull in and out. Braided rugs do not need thick padding, but they do benefit from a simple non-skid pad to keep them in place.
Try Making Your Own!
If you enjoy crafts, you might want to consider braiding a rug. The equipment is minimal: sharp scissors, clothespins, needles, threads, strips of good quality fabric and a C-clamp to hook the braid onto as you work. Fabric doesn't have to be new, but it should be free of moth holes, tears and stains and still have enough life left in it to be worthy of your efforts. You'll need to cut strips about 1-3/4" wide, join them with bias seams and roll the strips into three balls to braid from.
You'll braid the strips the same way you braid hair - but much tighter and you need to fold the torn or cut edges of the fabric to the inside as you work. If a rug seems like a huge project, think about doing chair pads, stair treads or a tote bag. Braiding isn’t difficult and like many crafts, can be learned from a book. If you prefer to take classes, check your local craft center or adult education program.
Whether your old winter coat ends up underfoot or you purchase a ready-made rug, you’ll find that braided rugs offer the perfect foundation for a country or antique decorating scheme. With our tendency to throw things away and buy new, there is something reassuring (and contemporary) about a folk art that recycles. Nostalgia and charm are important to country decorating and braided rugs rank high in both!
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A useful skill to know when the power goes out from a winter storm, cooking on the woodstove or in the fireplace is also just plain fun. Wood fire dishes range from roasted hot dogs to whole meals—including bread.
Long Handles: A Must
Although the Dutch Oven, which we will discuss later, is the most versatile of fireplace cooking utensils, there are several specialty items for fun fireplace cooking. Each serves a different purpose, but they all have long handles to keep your food just the right distance from the fire.
The most basic implement is the Roasting Fork. Just skewer a hot dog or marshmallows on the fork and you'll be ready for a cookout indoors. They are available in a variety of styles from simple to ornate wrought iron.
Corn Poppers and Chestnut Roasters have wire or sheet metal baskets at the business end of the handles. Just fill the basket, hold it over a bed of coals, and you'll have a delicious warm snack in minutes. Long-handled baskets are also great for cooking kebobs or s’mores over the hearth coals.
Pie Irons are used for grilling sandwiches. Each of their two handles has a steel or aluminum plate at the end. The plates hinge together, allowing you press a sandwich and hold it over the fire until it is toasted. In addition, the irons can be used for light baking or the plates can be used separately like small skillets. A bit of butter or cooking spray will help keep your food from sticking to the iron.
Use a Portable Grill to cook anything from steaks to vegetables over the coals in the fireplace, just like you would on a charcoal grill. Vary the height of the grill and rake coals around under the grill to control the heat. Remember to let the fire die down to a bed of hot coals to achieve an even temperature for grilling or baking.
The Dutch Oven
For meal preparation, the cast iron Dutch Oven has held the place of honor on the hearth for centuries. Cast iron has the ability to absorb and distribute heat evenly across its surface. This feature makes it less likely to develop hot spots that can burn your meal.
Dutch Ovens are divided into "kitchen" and "camp" styles. Both are available in many different sizes and include a cast iron lid and a heavy wire bail for lifting or hanging the oven above a fire. The camp style has three legs that make it more stable when set on coals and a flatter lid with a rim to hold coals. Using coals on top and underneath lets you bake breads and pies in your oven.
If you become serious about Dutch Oven cooking, consider installing a fireplace crane. This hinged hook bolts to your fireplace wall, and the arm lets you swing the Dutch Oven easily into and out of the fire.
Basic Fire Tips
Learning to judge the readiness of a fire takes a bit of practice. Wait 30-45 minutes after starting it for the fire to reach the point suitable for cooking. The early stage of a fire, with its leaping flames, has widely varying temperatures that can burn your food or leave it uncooked. You have to wait for the flames to die down and a bed of coals to develop to get the even heat needed to cook.
Once you have a good bed of coals, you can use a fireplace shovel or rake to distribute the coals. Not surprisingly, the more coals you put under (and on top of the camp Dutch Oven's lid) the hotter the interior will be. With experience you'll be able to judge how many coals are needed for anything from a simmer to a full boil. Don't forget you need to add more coals occasionally to keep the temperature constant.
Ready to try your hand at wood fire cooking? Here are a few recipes to get you started.
Pie Iron Instructions And Recipes
Place a buttered slice of bread, butter side down, on lower half of cooker. Spoon fruit, meat, or other filling on center of bread (see recipes). Place a second slice of bread, butter side up, on top of fillings. Latch handles and trim off excess bread, if necessary. Toast over campfire, stove, fireplace or charcoal until golden brown on both sides. You'll have a delicious hot meal in just 3 to 6 minutes.
Reuben Sandwich - Between pumpernickel bread slices, place cooked corn beef, canned sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. Grill over low heat until bread is toasted.
Sloppy Joes - Use canned, pre-cooked sloppy joe mix or make your own mix with hamburger, barbecue sauce and onion. (Meat must be precooked.) Place mix between buttered bread and cook over low heat until hot and toasty. Try with ground turkey for a healthier taste treat.
Bacon and Tomato Special - Fill whole wheat bread with sliced tomatoes, crisp bacon, lettuce and mayonnaise. Toast sandwich for 3 to 4 minutes in pie iron.
Eggs - Open cooker and use as two skillets, placing one egg in each side of cooker. Or use cooker in closed position for scrambled eggs; just add onion, cheese, pepper, and mushrooms for omelettes.
Cornbread - Prepare cornbread mix according to direction on package. Into a well-greased cooker, fill cavity about one third with mix. Close, latch handles and bake over very low heat until done.
Fruit Pie - Use any canned pie filling; apple, cherry, and peach are delicious. Place filling between your choice of bread as per our basic directions. Grill until golden brown. Sprinkle with sugar and serve.
Dutch Oven Recipes
Lemon Fried Chicken
Using a 12" Dutch oven on top of 14 charcoal briquets or the equivalent amount of wood coals, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in oven. Mince 2 cloves of garlic, add and brown.
Rinse and drain on paper towels 6 chicken breasts and 6 thighs. When garlic is lightly browned, add chicken. Fry until golden. Add 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon peel, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook 25 minutes or until tender. Remove chicken from oven and set aside.
Stir 2 10-oz. cans of chicken broth into Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Mix 1/4 cup of cornstarch with 1 cup of water and add to broth and lemon mixture. Stir and cook until thickened. Serve chicken over hot rice and spoon lemon sauce over both.
Tasty Tangy Vegetables & Rice
Use a 12" Dutch oven, greased. Provide bottom heat with 9 or 10 briquets. In a large bowl mix 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper and 1 teaspoon of hot sauce. Add and mix gently until coated: 1 peeled and diced eggplant, 1 peeled and diced potato, 1 diced green pepper, 1 diced red pepper, 1 diced zucchini squash, 2 peeled and sliced carrots, 1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms, 1 chopped onion and 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley.
Chop 4 large tomatoes. Layer the tomatoes in the oven and cover with half of the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with 2/3 cup of uncooked white rice. Add the remaining vegetables.
Mix 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup of water. Pour over the top of the vegetables and place oven over heat. Steam on low heat, without stirring, for 1/2 hour or until vegetables and rice are tender.
Fireplace Fruit Cobbler
For this recipe, use a 12" foil-lined camp Dutch oven and both top and bottom heat (coals or briquets both below and piled on lid). Mix and place into foil-lined oven: 2 29-oz. cans of sliced peaches with juice, 1 cup of crushed pineapple with juice and 1/2 cup of instant tapioca. Sprinkle over the top of fruit mixture 1 yellow or white cake mix. Top cake mix with 1cup brown sugar and 8 tablespoons of butter, thinly sliced. Do not stir.
Bake for 20 minutes with top and bottom heat. Then remove from bottom heat and continue cooking with top heat for 5-10 minutes until fruit is bubbling and crust is golden. Serve hot straight from Dutch oven or garnish with ice cream or whipped cream.
The preceding recipes were provided courtesy of Rome Industries and Lodge Manufacturing companies. Back to Top