Tag Archives: Sustainability

Pretty Pictures: Orchids

19 Sep

This orchid room was on display at this year’s county fair. Isn’t it just gorgeous? I’m kind of torn—I’m a reverent supporter of xeriscaping and hope to one day convert my front and back yard into a water-conserving paradise. Growing orchids in our climate is kind of the equivalent of buying oranges from Chile in the off-season. I love orchids but I just don’t think that they were meant to live everywhere and since it takes so much time and trouble to grow them here I have to wonder if it’s worth it. If you’re an orchid aficionado and that’s your passion, that’s one thing. But the casual gardener like myself can’t really justify the time, energy and money it takes to sustain plants that abhor my climate.

I mean, I tried. After I graduated high school I had enough disposable income to spend on exotic flowers yet not enough to move out and support myself so I filled my bathroom at my mom’s house with orchids. I learned a lot about orchids in that time, namely that you shouldn’t try to grow them if you live in a hot, dry, savannah-like climate. They did okay in the bathroom, which received lots of light and was constantly a bit humid from the showers my sister and I took, but removing them from that room was practically a death sentence. When I finally moved away from home I ended up returning the orchids to my parents’ bathroom. They were unhappy anywhere else.

I could never get them to bloom after their initial flowering, but I could get them to grow and look happy as long as they stayed in the bathroom. Whenever I see orchids in the store I’m tempted to try again but I can’t justify spending twenty bucks on a project I don’t have the time and energy for.

Aren’t they lovely though?

Thrifted Home Tour

23 Jul

A few weeks back my MIL Olivia watched Isobel for an afternoon while I tackled a project that just seemed too daunting with a baby around: photographing my house. I want to create a series of posts that featured thrifted goods throughout my home, some of them purchased for the shop and some of them that are mine. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve pretty much decorated my whole house with things found while thrifting and yardsaling and nothing would make me happier than to inspire people to do the same.

Right out of high school I had an awful roommate for about two years. Even though she reached out and asked me to live with her, she made it clear from the moment I unpacked my bags that I was not welcome in her house. I even heard her complain about me to her boyfriend when she thought I wasn’t around, saying, “She’s going to make this place look like a thrift store.” At the time I was totally caught off guard and I found it very hurtful, but you know what? Today I’m proud to have decorated my house from a thrift store. Damn straight. I think more people should decorate their home with thrifted goods. Here’s why:

CHARM & PERSONALITY: There is nothing cookie-cutter about the inside of my tract home even though most of our furniture came from Ikea. A thrifted home truly has some individuality; it’s not something that looks like came straight from the shelves of Target. I’m saying this as someone who has nothing against Target. In fact I like Target a little too much for my budget so I try not to visit very often. As much as I like Target there is something to be said about mixing up your design with less common items. I’m sure you’ve had the experience of being in someone’s home and seeing something that you saw in a store somewhere before, or maybe you’ve gone to somebody’s house and found the very same you bought on their mantel on display. Yeah. That.

FRUGALITY & VALUE: Not everything I find at a thrift store or yard sale is always cheap, and some times I pay a nice chunk of change for something vintage, but it’s often much cheaper than finding a comparable item new. And many times you can get great deals second hand and save a whole bunch of money. Case in point? Second hand frames. Have you checked the price of a custom frame job for artwork? Insane. If you have something that doesn’t fit nicely into a standard frame striaght from the store you are looking into paying a whole lot for buying a custom frame for that bad boy. Even if it does fit into a typical poster frame you then have all the drawbacks of a typical poster frame: it being cheap and ugly. Fortunately I have been able to find solid wood and glass frames secondhand. Sure sometimes I have to buy whatever crap work of art is already in the frame, but for five dollars I can have something I’m proud to hang in my living room. Also, don’t overlook the value of something. Vintage may not be the cheapest, but when you consider the fact that you are getting something gorgeous that you love that you can’t just find anywhere, it more than justifies the purchase.

ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY: Buying second hand is recycling at its most basic form: what could be greener than reusing an item that has already lived a useful life? How many times can you reuse an item to save resources? What is more sustainable than looking around you at items that already exist and choosing to purchase that item as opposed to one made by child labor at some big box store? Exactly. I knew you were the responsible sort.

SUPPORT A SMALL BUSINESS: Here’s where I post a shameless plug for my Etsy store and other purveyors of second hand goods. Often I shop at yard sales and estate sales but most often I go straight for thrift stores. All the second hand shops in my area support local causes: hospice care, the homeless, youth camps. My favorite thrift store forever and ever is run by the Catholic church and supports their charity. I’m not Catholic but I see the difference their outreach makes in the community. The stores I frequent are volunteer-run by the nicest people. I feel good about giving them my money because I know it is used to help others and keep the secondhand cycle going. And, *ahem* running my vintage shop through Etsy is a dream come true. Last month I bought some groceries with my Etsy earnings and I thought to myself, I did it! I’m a small business! That feels awesome. I’m not going to lie: every time I make a sale and I package that item up I think to myself, I can’t believe I’m letting this go. I truly love each and every item I find for my store, and I’m thrilled that you do, too.

Over a series of posts I’m going to be featuring a tour of my house and I’ll highlight all the thrifted goods and items to hopefully inspire others to look to second hand sources for their decorating projects. I’ll also be featuring some stuff in the photos that will end up in the Little Big Shop so you can see ideas of how they can be used. I hope it inspires you to reuse items in your design.