For those who love gardens and are passionate about gardening, the winter season may seem to drag on with no end in sight. The frozen ground may make it impossible to plant anything and the blistery air, snow, and ice would kill anything that somehow magically sprouted through.
Luckily there’s something for every gardener – even the light gardener – to get his or her fix this winter.
Wear Your Garden
Carry your garden wherever you go with this little eco-system that is not only cool, it’s fashionable. Each tiny terrarium comes with pebbles, dirt, and mosses from a North Carolina garden.
Enjoy Minimum Care
Air plant terrariums are home to small, exotic gardens that do not require too much care. Air plants do not need soil to grow and only require indirect light and a mist of water every few days.
Wreaths aren’t just for Christmas. They can be used to decorate the home throughout the winter season. Living wreaths provide gorgeous décor and a living garden right on your door or wall. Woven with air plants, the wreaths only require indirect sunlight and a few spritzes of water two to three times per week.
With a Rainy Pot, you’ll bring a garden inside and the natural way plant’s get fed. The pot mimics raindrops and provides a gentler watering process than just pouring water into the pot. Plus it allows plants to hang on the walls, creating adorable décor.
Living Moss Wall
We fell in love with the living moss wall when we first found it for our blog post on bathroom design inspiration. In that post, we learned that you can cover an entire wall in flora and it looks fabulous.
Grow Your Own Veggies
You’ve heard of growing your own herbs indoors, but have you heard of growing your own avocado tree or celery stalk indoors? By keeping the seed from an avocado and suspending it over a water-filled glass (covering about an inch of the seed), you can grow your own avocado plant. If you place the heart from your celery bunch in water and provide it with good sunlight, you can grow a new stalk, which can be harvested at eight inches (after you transfer it to soil when it is two inches tall).
The bathroom may not be the first room your guests see when they walk into your home, but it is one of the first rooms you see when you wake up in the morning and prepare for the day ahead of you. It’s the place you go to cleanse your body and, with the right décor, it could be the place you go to cleanse your mind and soul. Here are a few of our favorite bathrooms that had decorators who understood the importance of an exquisitely decorated bathroom.
The porcelain pieces in this room pop – and it isn’t just because of their bright color in an otherwise all-wood interior. It’s also because of their contemporary design in a traditional barn setting. We also love the soft lighting that pairs well with the warm interior and the just-enough-sunlight popping through the small window above the bathtub.
We can’t get enough of that wood accent wall, which stands in grandeur amongst a gorgeous marble interior. The terracotta statue is an intriguing addition that enhances tranquility and matches the color scheme perfectly.
All we can say is, that wall! This custom living wall comes covered with herbs, geraniums, and mosses and adds textural and natural elements to the room. The freestanding, soaking bathtub below the wall provides the perfect fit for Natural Wood Decor’s teak bath bar.
We fell in love with this gorgeous makeshift outdoor escape the second we saw it. From the palm tree and big plants to the wood stepping stones and natural light pouring through the ceiling, this bathroom is the perfect example of an oasis hidden in the middle of a home.
The various textures – soft curtains, stone, wood, and even antlers – coexist beautifully in this rustic bathroom because the colors all meld together very well. The deep bathtub and large windows allow bathers to curl up in a warm soak while peering out into a wintry scene. Natural Wood Decor’s teak bath decor would also go great with this bathroom design.
The décor really plays up the length of this bathroom, which features a number of vintage elements that give off an incredibly elegant vibe. The tub fits perfectly in its little nook to keep from taking space in this narrow, transitional bathroom.
Whether you are shopping for gifts or yourself, check out our sister sites Natural Wood Decor and Natural Rug Co, they are having a 30% off sale today through Cyber Monday! (Natural Wood Decor’s sale is site wide and Natural Rug Co’s is on select bamboo rugs.)
You’ll find great kitchen and dining products like the Root Wood Party Platter below at Natural Wood Decor and stylish and easy to clean bamboo rugs that are perfect for the entryway at Natural Rug Co.
Throwing a party can sound like a great idea – until it’s the day of and your stress limit is through the roof while you run around crafting cocktails and entrees and making sure everything is in place. While it may feel like your stress won’t leave until the last guest does, there are various steps you can take to enjoy stress free entertaining. Here, we list our top 7 ways to entertain your guests without feeling the stress and pressure of hosting.
Keep Up with Your Calendar
Plan ahead and do as much as you can before the day of the party. Organize your rooms and give your home a deep cleaning a week in advance. Then you’ll only have to do light cleaning one or two days before. Shop for your party a few days in advance – buy any produce or things that need to be fresh (like flowers) the day before or the day of. The day before your guests arrive, set the table and prepare any cold appetizers and entrées or ones that taste just as good when they are reheated. Plan what you need to do each day leading up to the big day and stay on track with those errands.
Lists will help you stay sane and organized. A shopping list will help you know what’s been purchased already and what you still need to get. It keeps you from over spending and over shopping – as long as you stick to it. In the same way, a to do list keeps you on track – especially if your attention span is limited. It will show you what’s been done and what you still need to do. And it just feels so good when you cross something off; you may feel a sense of relief with each task that’s completed. To keep from crafting a lengthy, intimidating list, break each list down by the day you can complete each task. That way, each day will have a smaller list.
Keep it Simple
While those spectacular cocktails may look simple on Pinterest, believe us, they’re not. Making really complex cocktails may wow the crowd, but trying to master it could eat up precious planning time and it could get expensive. Usually, multi-faceted cocktails require a number of ingredients, including expensive liqueurs, muddled fruits, and a variety of spirits. Along with that, some cocktails call for exact measurements or more refined tastes. Guests might be impressed by the way a drink looks, but the way it tastes is more important. What’s the point of a drink if no one wants to drink it?
Keep it Familiar
Now is not the time to try a new recipe. There’s too much risk involved including messing up the ingredients to overcooking the food. You might cook it perfectly, but without tasting it beforehand, you may not even know that you just don’t like the entrée. Stick with tried and true recipes. Stick to an entrée that you’re known for and that has received a ton of compliments from your guests. It’s ok to give them what they’re expecting. At least you know they’ll be happy.
Keep it Real
This goes along with keeping it simple and familiar. Nothing will stress you out more than trying too hard to impress others. Your guests are invited for a reason and hopefully that reason is because they are close friends or family and they enjoy spending time with you. Read that again: they enjoy spending time with YOU. Don’t stress over trying to be someone you’re not and throw a party that is just your style instead. It’ll be easier to plan and put on than something you are not accustomed to.
Keep Your Guests in Mind
Without guests, you can’t entertain. So make sure you make your guests happy. Keep them in mind when planning your menu. Find out if any of your guests have food allergies or dietary restrictions. Is your best friend vegan? Have a meatless option. Is your aunt severely allergic to nuts? Keep nuts absolutely out of the party. If the allergy is life threatening, make sure your other guests know not to bring anything with the allergen in it.
Along with knowing your guests diets, know their personalities. Do you have a friend who always brings extra guests? Plan for a few extra, uninvited guests. If you have two friends who can’t stand to be in the same room together, maybe invite just one of those friends. If you have a guest who always drinks a little too much, have a guest room or cab company ready for them.
Keep Calm and Just Have Fun
Just because you’re the host doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your own party. Some things just happen and there is nothing you can do about it. The sooner you accept that, the less stressed you’ll feel.
Tis the season for a plethora of holidays, which gives you the perfect reason to entertain. While there’s not much you can do once the party begins – besides enjoy yourself – there are some things you can do while planning and preparing for your event.
WOW THEM FROM THE GET GO
Impress your guests before they even get inside by making sure your yard and porch look good. First and foremost, ensure safety. Keep your eye out for any dangers including loose steps, uneven concrete, and potential trip hazards. If there is any inclement weather, make sure you remove any piles of leaves, snow, or ice on your driveway and walkway. Pour kitty litter or sand on icy areas. You could also take care of your guests by setting out a bench, such as these benches from Natural Wood Decor, for smokers or guests in need fresh air.
Once your guests walk in, have someone there to greet them. If you’re the only one running the entire show, you could even put up a sign to greet them and tell them where to go. If you’d like shoes off at the door, make it known. If it’s cold outside, have a place to store coats that is close to the entrance.
APPEASE THE SENSES
Taste – Make sure there’s something for all tastes by having a spread of multiple foods including meatless fare. You may even want to check with guests ahead of time to see if there are allergies, gluten sensitivities, or any other dietary restriction. In any case, clearly label food and include a note with specific information like if it is extra spicy or contains nuts. The same rules apply for drinks. Make sure to clearly label any drink – especially if it is an alcoholic beverage that hides the taste of liquor. If you are serving liquor and beer, always make sure there are non-alcoholic options as well.
Smell – If your get together has an assortment of foods, the aroma from cooking may be enough. You can also set up plug-in scents around the home, burn some incense in a non-conspicuous, safe area, or light a few candles, which may also set a calming tone to the party.
Sound – Depending on the feel of your get together, you can play some music in the background, making sure it isn’t too loud and competing with general conversation.
Sight – Make everything appealing to the eyes. Try not to include too many patterns and color schemes into your décor.
Touch – Make sure your guests don’t freeze or get overheated by setting your thermostat to a comfortable temperature. Play with textures and fabrics by using velvety tablecloths, incredibly soft curtains, and cushy seats.
DECORATE WITH A PURPOSE
Don’t just decorate to decorate. Have your decorations serve a purpose other than looking good. Set up a few statement pieces that spark conversation. Use decorative dishes and bowls like Natural Wood Decor’s large driftwood platter platter or small root wood bowl to hold appetizers.
Natural Rug Co’s bamboo rugs serve a number of purposes. Their sturdy material holds up and keeps your floors protected. The walnut brown, natural, or dark chocolate colors pair well with many room colors. The rugs are also easy to clean with a damp cloth or vacuum, so you won’t have to worry about falling crumbs and liquid spills. Not only that, but the rugs are made from plentiful bamboo.
Consider all scenarios from unexpected overnight guests to clumsy visitors. You may want to have a room or two set up in case you have a guest that over-imbibes and needs to stay the night. Or have a list of cabs ready to call. You could also have spare toothbrushes or even clothing set aside just in case they’re needed. And if there is something you don’t want to get broken or stained, put it away for the night.
A note on neighbors: if you have any nosey or grumpy neighbors, let them know ahead of time that you’re having a get together so there are no surprises. You could even take this as a chance to make nice and invite them over.
SEND THEM WITH A GIFT
Gift bags aren’t just for kids’ parties anymore. There’s plenty of grown up party favors from macrons and other edibles to wine glass charms and mini bottles of liquor. Self-serve candy bars are a big thing right now and require little prep. Just put a few jars of jellybeans, gummies, and chocolates on a table along with scoopers and small bags. You can also make it more personal by hand-making ornaments, hand soap, or cookies, chocolates, or muffins.
For this year’s gift guide, we’re aiming to rid the holiday world of gift baskets full of bath accessories or cheese and sausages. Food devotees and spa junkies can attest to the overwhelming amount of the aforementioned gift baskets they receive during the holidays. Not that there is anything wrong with these gifts, but our collection listed below may put a bit more of a creative spin on what to get these special people in your life.
For the Foodie in the Family
The rustic look and creative carving of this bowl allow its owner to surround fruit and veggies with a natural work of art. Made from Chinese Fir stumps, these root wood bowls are large enough to hold multiple items or seasonal decorations. Learn more about Natural Wood Décor’s Large Root Wood Bowl.
At more than one foot long and more than six inches wide, this unique platter can hold a large variety of favorite snacks. Taken from mountain slopes and crafted in carving villages, this piece has an interesting story to share with each selection of food that accompanies it. Learn more about Natural Wood Décor’s Large Root Wood Platter.
With the bowl attached to the platter, foodies can hold their gift, while keeping one hand free for dipping. While the platter itself encourages happy snacking, the process by which the platter is made encourages faster reforestation. Learn more about Natural Wood Décor’s Chip and Dip Platter.
Wine aficionados can show off their favorite collection with the Root Wood Wine Rack, which fits up to six bottles of wine. Made from the wood of Chinese Fir stumps, the rack may have a more interesting origin than the wine that sits on it. Learn more about Natural Wood Décor’s Root Wood Wine Rack.
The 3 Section Appetizer Disk is perfect for the foodie who just can’t choose between their favorite foods. This year for every purchase of this product we’ll be donating $3 to Second Harvest; a food bank in North Carolina (where my partner and I live). So not only is it a great gift, but the gift includes a contribution to the community. Learn more about Natural Wood Décor’s Acacia Wood 3 Section Appetizer Disk.
For the Spa Enthusiast
These natural pieces of wood fill any room with the tranquility of the Northern Thailand forests from which they come. Each piece comes with space for one tealight candle that sets this artistic piece aglow. And the best part about this gift – it comes as a pair. Learn more about Natural Wood Décor’s Driftwood Tea Light Set.
The Teak Bath Bar adds even more relaxation to a warm bath by providing a place to rest candles, essential oils, or a good book. Made from resilient and low-maintenance teak wood, the shelf is coated in an all natural teak oil that keeps the wood protected while splashing around or soaking in serenity. Learn more about Natural Wood Décor’s Teak Bath Bar.
Still need more ideas? Check out our green gift board on Pinterest.
Plants are always a great way to bring the outdoors in and there are so many options for brightening your home with plants. Here are just a few of our favorites from our Pinterest board. Which is your favorite?
1. Love the idea of a water garden!
2. Not sure why so many things look cuter in miniature but the rule seems to apply with this adorable mini magnet planters. Perfect for the frig.
3. Love that these funky Buddha head planters at a little zen to any room.
4. What better way to hang plants then upside down right! These sky planters sure do make a statement.
5. This one is from a post on uncommon house plants. This succulent definitely has such a unique shape.
Want some more ideas for indoor plants? Check out our Indoor Gardening Pinterest board.
The kitchen is one of the most important rooms and rightly called the heart of your home. Here are a few ideas to make your kitchen green and more environment-friendly. Some of them may be possible only if you are planning a whole remodel while some are as simple as tweaking your daily routine. Have a look!
- Use sustainable materials
- Use sustainable, environment-friendly materials such as bamboo for backsplashes and flooring.
- Cork is another good choice for kitchens as it is also hypo-allergenic and resistant to mold and mildew. While oak or maple may take 30 years or more to grow, cork trees regenerate in less than one-third of that time, making it a sustainable option.
- When it comes to countertops, use green options such as IceStone (made of recycled glass, concrete and pigment). Surfacing made from naturally-occurring materials such as quartz or recycled stone-chipped composite countertops are also good choices.
- When it comes to cabinets, use wood harvested from managed forests or still better, made of an alternative material such as wheatboard.
- Paints and finishes should be non-toxic and the VOC content in them should be zero or extremely low.
- If you are planning to replace you kitchen sink, try buying one made of recycled copper wires and pipes.
- Choose energy-efficient appliances
- Switch decades-old appliances for new, Star-rated electric appliances which are more energy-efficient and use less power and water than other models.
- Refrigerators with top and bottom freezer/refrigerator units are said to be more efficient than side-by-side models because they minimize the cold air that is lost.
- Check the seal of your refrigerator using the dollar bill test. If you shut the fridge door on a dollar bill and are able to pull it out easily without much effort, then it shows that it is time for you to have your seal replaced!
- Choose a convection–style oven over a conventional one for faster cooking. Cooking in a convection-style oven is 25 percent faster because it makes use of a fan to drive heat swiftly from source to food. An electric induction cooker also cooks food faster than an ordinary gas stove.
- Eco-friendly tableware and kitchen tools
- Use bamboo cutting boards instead of plastic ones.
- Buy dinnerware made of recycled glass.
- Root wood serving bowls and platters are unique and made of tree stumps, the removal of which helps expedite reforestation.
- Implement energy and water-saving measures wherever possible
- Maximize natural lighting wherever possible and use fluorescent lighting in other areas.
- Switch to a water-saving faucet with a reduced flow rate of 1.5 gallons per minute.
- Use natural and bio-degradable cleaning supplies and detergents.
- Use leftover water from boiling vegetables or pasta to water your plants.
- Get into the habit of composting kitchen scraps.
- Run the dishwasher only when you have a full load to make the most efficient use of water, detergent and energy.
- Put your fridge away from your dishwasher or it will have to work that much harder to cool down the heat emanated by the washer.
- Reduce, reuse and recycle wherever possible, and that includes old stained glass windows, cabinets and countertops.
- Buy local materials to minimize the cost of shipping and transport.
Guest Blogger: Kurt Jacobson is a surfing enthusiast with a background in real estate. Having moved 10 times in the past 7 years, he thrives on helping others learn from his experiences. When he’s not out shredding waves he writes about homes for househunter.co.
One of the reasons we choose Second Harvest, a food bank in Northwest North Carolina, is that North Carolina is among the five worst states for hunger levels among both adults and children and is where my partner and I live. It is also part of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization which supports more than 200 regional food banks.
Learn more about Second Harvest and the community it serves below.
Second Harvest’s impact in the community:
“In fiscal year 2013-2014, Second Harvest Food Bank distributed more than 25 million pounds of donated, purchased and prepared foods, the equivalent of more than 20 million meals. Together with our network of more than 400 partner programs – community food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens and youth and senior feeding programs serving local communities in 18 counties – we provide critical food assistance to more than 300,000 neighbors in need each year, including 100,000 children.”
The households that Second Harvest serves have had to make difficult choices and trade-offs to keep food on the table this year:
- 73 percent had to choose between paying for food or paying for medical care or medicine.
- 75 percent had to choose between paying for food or paying for utilities.
- 71 percent had to choose between paying for food or paying for transportation.
- 61 percent had to choose between paying for food or paying for housing.
Second Harvest’s food bank network helps the communities most vulnerable residents:
- 32 percent of those who receive food assistance through Second Harvest Food Bank’s network of partner food assistance programs are children under the age of 18; 10 percent are seniors age 65 or older. (30 percent are age 50 and older.)