Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in the Winter, always something green to see.

Very surprised to see Cherry blossoms!
A few weeks ago, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond offered FREE admission, so of course I had to go! One might think that January is a drabby time of year to visit but there is always something to see. Right now there are plenty of little shrub berries, ornamental grasses yellow Winter Jasmine, Camellia, Cherry Trees, Snowdrops, and even a few Daffodils opening. The bare deciduous trees provide a nice view of the bones of the garden.

My new discovery, The Woodland Garden

I wanted to see if there were Daffodils blooming on the far backside of the Asian Gardens as I remembered spotting them a few years ago in that area. I was happy to see a sign for the  Woodlands Garden, a little hideaway off the beaten path.

First Daffodil spotting of 2020
This trip I really wanted to make time to visit the extensive library. Normally I visit Ginter in Spring or Summer so I'm totally distracted by the glorious gardens. Winter is a perfect time to check out the books and the "seed library". I was really excited to see they have a seed loan. You have to pledge to "attempt" to grow the seed you take and harvest seed and return back to the library. I was quite greedy but I hope to have some success. I've been saving seed for 25 years and I've always wanted to start a seed library in Charlottesville. I'm sure someone else will eventually do this as it's becoming more and more popular.

Weeding and preening never ends!
I'll have to admit that not seeing even one rose in bloom is a bit of a downer but the bodies of water help make up for this loss. Volunteers were packing up the thousands of lights from the annual Light Show. It takes months to get the garden ready for the big Spring burst. There were certainly a lot of people involved with this effort.

Several varieties of Camellia popping open
I enjoyed testing out my new camera and look forward to having more to shoot soon. The birds outside are providing the most opportunity and I'm filming our continued home renovations and posting on YouTube.

Get outside and look closely and you will find those first signs of Spring!


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Starting the 2020 new year finishing construction projects in preparation of mom's move

My first decent bird photo with my new camera
My annual look back at last year's accomplishments begins with the completion of several projects in order to find space for mom in our house. Our prefab garage was erected Halloween eve 2018 and last year we finished the interior and added touches to the exterior to give it a barn look. Upstairs over the garage would house my Etsy vintage shop and my old space in the house would become Mom's renovated apartment!

Anthony installing handmade barn board window ledges
Anthony and I completely finished the second story of our little barn garage by ourselves for the exception of hooking the main electrical line to the house. During 2019 we hung sheet rock and painted, installed a door between the non-insulated garage and upstairs Etsy shop area, installed a mini split heat and air system, and installed flooring and shelves. Then the fun began when we had to move the racks, cabinets, clothing, and boxes of vintage upstairs. Any and everyone that came to our house was put on notice that their price of admission was hauling a box or piece of furniture. My husband's brother got stuck helping us haul the biggest piece of furniture up the stairs. Thankfully he figured out how to get the old train station wooden bench through the doorway!

Anthony's barn board bookcase
I couldn't be happier with my set up and am so much more organized. I currently have 9 consignment clients and sell mainly on Etsy and Ebay. I have a photography area, shipping station, computer desk, and plenty of room for storage. I'm most in love with the big windows and the barn board detailing made from an old shed that stood on my family farm. My talented husband decorated the front of the barn garage with some and built a bookcase and window ledges out of others. I found an amazing 1930's green gas station light on Etsy for the front exterior that I also treasure.

Busting out a wall, Snoopy cat strikes again
We also began the interior work in Mom's basement apartment. Finishing a bathroom, creating a hallway, installing new windows, a new entry doorway, and installing a small kitchen. The four window replacements were super easy while busting out the new doorway was the hardest. The creation of a kitchen was not too difficult but all the details were time consuming. Installing Pex hot and cold water lines was super amazingly easy but the laminated counter top was a bit tricky. We utilized the family barn boards again for accents in the kitchen and all the cabinets were randomly discovered at two local Habitat Stores.

Beginning of cabinet build, amazingly it comes together!
I sadly didn't participate in construction after early Spring because my arthritis gave me such a fit. I so wanted to hammer and saw but my wrists would not let me. Having RA and Sjogrens for 20 years has been a royal PAIN. My Morton's Neuroma in one foot has thankfully calmed down after the cortisone shot that provided a lot of relief but the other foot is echoing this ailment. My husband has pretty much had to do all interior house renovations himself. I pick up a caulk gun every now and then just to remind me how much I love construction work. I still do all the design and cabinet hauling since the Habitat and Lowe's folks are so nice to load everything for me!

My favorite photo of Cesar
We had a few pet events last year. Our little broken down cat, Cesar hurt himself early in 2019 and was dragging his legs behind himself. He is much better now and just has a little limp. Somehow late in 2019 he managed to get an ear hematoma and we decided surgery would have been horrible for him so we're letting it deflate on its own. We also lost our chicken Big Red to a hawk so we had to start locking the chickens under a wire run for most of the day.

A memorable photo I took of a Tiger on a Clerodendrum
Mom is doing really well but is very anxious to move in this Spring! It's going to be an eventful and challenging year as she needs to also sell her condo. I really really hope we can have some downtime after she gets settled.

I'm starting 2020 with a new camera. So there will be a lot for me to learn.

~ Rebecca

Friday, November 29, 2019

Recycle Reuse, Buy vintage this Christmas and Holiday Gift Giving Season

Renaker vintage collectibles for the Cat Lover, ForsythiaHill
It's that time of year again where we try to find that perfect gift for family and friends. Amazon seems to be the go to place for buying new items and Ebay has long been the place for collectors. The growing trend is vintage gift giving. I've always thought it more personal and definitely more unique to buy a nicely cared for vintage item. Not just another throw away but something they might want to hold onto and treasure because of its uniqueness.

Warm vintage Angora Hat, ForsythiaHill
I've been selling vintage for family and friends for 10 years now and my buyers really are excited about their purchases. Totally unique one of a kind items that they comment about in their online product review after purchase. I love matching old items in new homes to be appreciated and adored.

Art Nouveau early 1900's Gold Jewelry Box, ForsythiaHill

Etsy is a fun place to shop as they have combined a wide range of artisan items with vintage. You can set your search setting to only shop for art or vintage if you like. The stigma that a gift can only be new in order for it to be appreciated is fading, year after year. Shoppers are becoming more conscientious about saving natural resources by gift giving a previously used item. More and more online resale sites are popping up as the ease of selling a used item goes mainstream. I'm seeing newer used items on these sites while authentic vintage items (more than 20 years old) are still being found mainly on Etsy and Ebay, along with a few more less popular sites such as Bonanza and Ruby Lane.

Large fabric printed 1980s Rabbit, ForsythiaHill
It's trendy to gift give vintage but maybe not as cool to give a new used item as these items can still be found new. The key to success is to find a unique item that is difficult to find, one that brings back memories, something that can be physically used or something kitsch. An item that never gets old is vintage Pyrex. Who doesn't love and use Pyrex! One year I gifted an adorable retro cat hand towel to a friend. She loved it! Ornaments are also a fun item to give.

Amazing vintage Poodle Pin, ForsythiaHill
I love selling vintage because of the history each items holds. It's a treasure hunt often for me as a seller just to locate a similar item to date it or determine its authenticity. Over 10 years I've found homes for thousands of items and I've seen the trend expand from just personal buying to shopping for a gift.

Gardening books, these for the Rose Lover, ForsythiaHill
I also like selling vintage because I like being a part of the reuse, recycle movement to help our planet which by all accounts is failing. Not only does no new manufacturing go into the products I sell but I also only pack items using previously used boxes and packing paper. I don't know too many sellers that go to this extreme but it is personally important for me. I've never once had to buy a box or paper! Friends bring me boxes, an optical shop saves boxes for me, and I get bubble wrap and paper from freecycle. The only shipping product I buy is tape. I also am conscious of the delivery method I use and even have my postal carrier's cell phone number. Nearly all my shipping is done at my house, I rarely drive to the post office.

I hope you will consider shopping for vintage this holiday season for a host of good reasons! Right now I'm running a SALE in my vintage shop, ForsythiaHill during the Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday sales. I also sell on ebay, ruralreality. Go check them out, I thank you in advance!


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