Flow into the Holidays: tips on how to be more sustainable during the holidays
We are Flowing into the holidays over here with tips on how to be more sustainable this year. Last Friday we did a Facebook live event where we talked all about this, so if you want to watch us live: check it out here:
This post is a recap of everything we discussed along with links to the resources we were mentioning. The three main topics: home decorating, throwing parties, and shopping/gifts.
We love to decorate for the holidays. It changes the mood of the space to enhance and embrace all of that Holiday cheer!
There are 3 primary options in this category: Real (cut) trees, Live trees, and Fake trees. Here are the pros & cons:
- Farm (tree lot): these trees are grown to be cut, and new ones are planted in their place.
- Cut yourself: helps thin the forest; only a certain amount of permits are allowed, so it’s controlled.
- Both of these can be easily recycled! Look up your local tree recycling programs for more info and drop off/pick up locations.
- This is our favorite option because you enjoy the beauty of the tree, but it gets to carry on its life by replanting it.
- These can usually be purchased at your nursery.
- Here are tips to consider: https://www.moananursery.com/fb_files/PC-3%20Living%20Christmas%20Tree%20Care.pdf
- If you don’t have a place to plant it, it can be donated to a location that needs it.
- Reuse, reuse, reuse! A fake tree should last a lifetime, so go for a quality tree, or repurpose one from a secondhand store
- Take good care of it, boxing it up each year so it will last
- These are made from plastics and chemicals that do not allow them to be recycled, so when you are done, donate it so someone else can find new life in it
Christmas never goes out of style, making it easy to reuse your decorations over and over. Whether you want to get some new items or find new ways to repurpose old ones for a new look, here are a few tips:
- Avoid disposable décor – use items that will last and can be reused year after year
- Buy Local — a huge component of being sustainable is to support your local community
- look for where it’s made: USA/locally or from another country
- Reuse and repurpose — make use of what you already have:
- Frame Christmas wrapping paper in an existing frame
- Put pine cones or pine branches in a vase
- Decorate your existing plants with lights and ornaments
- Make homemade crafts! We had a lot of fun making some of these and showing them to you at our event. Here are some ideas:
- Pinecones: spray with glitter, or turn into a table decoration that looks like a like Rudolph or Christmas trees
- Turn an orange into a fun garland, you can use this all year long! http://www.anulaskitchen.com/2014/05/how-to-dry-orange-slices-in-oven.html
- Toilet paper rolls: cut into sections and spray paint with glitter to make napkin holders, its so easy.
- Old jars: make your own candles, put fairy lights inside, or turn it into a snow globe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZDhLfvbm8M
- Candles: look for soy candles as they burn cleaner than paraffin. Also, look for candles scented with essential oils or non-scented because artificial fragrance is made up of harmful chemicals
- Lights: LED lights are energy-efficient and come in so many different styles
We love a good party! But a party can be super wasteful if you don’t plan ahead. It might seem easier to put out the paper plates, paper napkins, and plastic cups, but all of that is headed straight to the landfill. Here are some alternatives to consider:
- Real dishes — it dresses up the occasion and people usually prefer to eat from a real plate. However, you might be rolling your eyes at all the cleanup, but considering the hours you likely spent preparing for the party, it will take less than an hour to do the dishes. The earth will thank you!
- Plastic dishes & flatware — if you don’t have enough real dishes, then buy plastic ones. These can easily be washed and reused.
* Look for plastics that can be recycled at the end of their life
* Allows you to have fun with different styles such as gold flatware without a huge investment
- Compostable/biodegradable items — if you do need a disposable option, be sure it’s compostable. There are so many great options for plates, flatware, cups, and more
- Avoid any party favors, or if you do want to send your guests home with something, do handmade gifts such as jams, cookies, or candles
*This applies to kid’s birthday parties too. Set an example by not giving out anything, or if you do, make sure it’s not plastic, or items will just end up in the trash
- Decorating — see our notes above for great ideas. These work for table settings as well as around the house.
- Use cloth napkins and towels
- Leftovers — start saving jars from the foods you buy, wash them, then send your guests home with leftovers in them
- Wine — at the live event we did a wine tasting with sustainable wines. This means wines with no added sugar, no additives, no added sulfites. Here is a link for more info: https://scoutandcellar.com/lorihass or contact Lori at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shopping & Gifts
We love giving (and receiving), so the key here is to be really mindful. This includes the entire process from why you’re buying, what you’re buying, and where you’re buying it from. Here are a lot of great tips for being a sustainable gift-giver:
- Be thoughtful — get people something they will love rather than buying for the sake of buying. Consider the lasting feeling the gift will evoke.
- Give experiences — we personally love doing things with our loved ones more than receiving an item, so consider giving something you can do together or that they will love to do such as a restaurant gift card, cooking class, or maybe skydiving
- Shop local! — we can emphasize this enough. It supports your community and is often more personal. Next, look at where it’s made and try to support made in the USA when possible.
- Reuse or Re-Gift — the perfect gift might be the item in your home that your friend has had their eye on or something you were going to give away or donate. Clean it up and it will be just like new.
- Shop secondhand stores or Facebook marketplace for the perfect thing that someone is getting rid of
- Handmade – whether you’re good at building things, drawing, crafting, or baking, people love homemade gifts. It is so personal, and they know how much time and love you put into making it.
- Gift wrap — we love to wrap our gifts in a beautiful encasement of paper and ribbon, but most of the time this ends up in the trash. A few easy alternatives:
- Buy recycled content paper
- Don’t buy paper with metallics or glitter as these cannot be recycled
- Reuse paper grocery sacks or butch paper (really easy to recycle). Personalize it by painting it yourself. Just be sure to save time for it to dry.
- Use reusable ribbon
- Repurpose old cards for gift tags
- Gift bags are easily reusable
- Save the tissue paper and reuse it time and time again
One other way to feel good about the holiday season is to give back there is no better time than now:
- Here are options in the Reno, NV area: https://www.ktvn.com/story/42953388/giving-tuesday-donation-opportunities-around-northern-nevada
- Truckee Meadows Boys & Girls Club: https://bgctm.org/ways-to-give/holiday-help-program/
- Eddy House helps the homeless and they need blankets, coats, socks, and anything to help keep people warm this winter: https://eddyhouse.org
There are so many ways to integrate sustainability into your life, so we encourage you to focus on just a few things that resonate with you this season. It’s not about being perfect at this, as we certainly are not, but each little thing we do does make a difference!
Golden Knob Recipient
Welcome back to our blog, today we have something genuinely heartwarming for you. The story of our Golden Knob recipient, Sharon Smeltzer. Sharon was nominated by her friend Kelly who wrote to us about her dear friend. She wrote how Sharon had spent her life as a daycare provider spreading her light, love, and warmth onto others while providing peace of mind for parents and a safe place for them to take their babies. As Moms that rely on daycare, we know how important it is to know that your babies are in good hands while you work. We also know how hard it must be to look after numerous toddlers a time. The patience and kindness one must have is out of this world and a gift. So we picked up the phone and gave Kelly a call. I knew after my conversation with Kelly, Sharon would be a great fit for our Golden Knob Initiative, so we set a date for our meeting, and that is where it all began.
When I arrived at the house a man named Steve answered the door, I explained who I was, and he told me the ladies were in the other room waiting. As I walked into the living room I saw Sharon and Kelly sitting in anticipation. I automatically knew this was going to be a great experience because of their giant smiles and the positive energy radiating off of them. I hugged both women and sat down to hear more about them. Sharon proceeded to tell me she thought that Kelly was playing a prank on her, and she was being Punked! They then explained to me that they liked to play pranks on one another, especially on April Fools Day, haha!! They told me about their stories revolving around these pranks, which made me laugh quite a bit. Sharon’s sense of humor was delightful.
We then got up, Sharon and Kelly proceeded to give me a tour of the home, introducing me to Jason Momoa, AKA Aquaman, Sharon’s life-size cardboard cut out, man crush, hottie!!! I learned about her love for the Titanic and was guided into her tastefully decorated Victorian-style living room, displaying all things Titanic. It was at this time Sharon opened up to me about her amazing husband of 28 years, the love of her life. I learned that he had passed away five years ago, breaking her heart. She told me stories about his involvement in the different clubs here in Reno and how deeply he had loved her son like he was his own. Her husband was a great man; their love was inspiring to hear about, so sincere and genuine. Sharon continued to tell me how that was the most challenging time in her life because after her husband passed away, she experienced a great deal more, losing her mom, dad, a sister, and a friend. Hearing this brought me to tears; I could feel and see her pain as she talked about this gut-wrenching time in her life full of darkness and sadness.
As we continued with the tour of her home we chatting about life and loss and the meaning behind it all, all while Sharon continued to make jokes and laugh. As we walked and talked, I thought to myself, “This woman has it together, there is nothing I am going to be able to help her with.” She then led me down a hallway with a few doors, the first door led to a beautifully decorated guest room, also known as Nana’s room, and then we entered her organized and well-decorated master bedroom. After the master bedroom, we had one room left to see, and that was it, the room where everything landed that didn’t have a place in her home, the shove it in there until I have time to deal with it room, also known as the room that will one day be a space for creating and crafting.
As I walked into the room, Sharon explained that she didn’t use the space and hadn’t even been able to walk into it for years. It had become the room in her home she tried to ignore. I looked around the space and thought of all the potential it had, with just a little bit of love and time I could make this into a functioning room for her. I proceeded to ask her if she would mind if I spent some time there while she and Kelly hung out in the living room. If she would trust me to take care of her belongings and to help get the space organized and workable. Sharon said yes, as tears of happiness ran down her cheeks.
After 4 hours, I transformed the space from an overbearing, cramped, unorganized area into a place of purpose and meaning. It became a space for Sharon to craft and create, look through old photos and remember all the beautiful moments she had had in her amazing life. I called on my right-hand man, my husband, to come and haul away the big stuff that was cluttering up space, her life, and Sharon’s emotions.
After I finished, I revealed the room to her and Kelly. Their reaction was priceless. They both plopped down on the bed, overcome with joy. After seven years of friendship, this was the first time they had been able to sit on the bed and enjoy. We spent a few minutes enjoying the space together before I had to leave to pick up my daughter, from daycare. I left the two friends sitting on the bed, in a freshly organized space, ready for Sharon to start somewhere with her crafting.
As I left Sharon’s home that day, a feeling of pure joy and happiness swept over me. I felt so blessed to have met both Kelly and Sharon, to have been apart of there afternoon, laughing and chatting. What I realized from this experience that when you stop and take a moment to connect and embrace those around you, in your community, those are the moments that will have the most significant impact on your life. We created the Golden Knob Initiative to give back, do good and touch people’s lives positively. I would never have thought how much it would affect my own life. Thank you, Kelly, for leading me to Sharon and thank you, Sharon, for all you have done for the young people in our community. You are indeed an incredible blessing!!!
The truth about your furniture
Welcome back to our blog. Today we’re getting real with you and talking about the furniture in your home. You spend a lot of time on your furniture, and just like sleeping, driving, shopping, and going to the bathroom these tasks take up many hours of your life similar to the hours spent on that, mattress, sofa and/or favorite chair. For instance: approximately 2,728 drinks will be shared on your sofa, it will see couples kiss 2,105 times, and 3,135 films will be watched with your family on your sofa for over an 11 year period. That’s a whole lot of love and time spent on just your sofa. With all of the warmth and coziness that our sofa makes you feel, I bet you didn’t realize what goes into making it and how it can affect your overall health.
The truth about your furniture.
The truth about your furniture….everything you put into your home “off-gasses” which is defined by Webster’s Dictionary, “A gas that is produced as a by-product of an industrial process or that is given off by a manufactured object or material”. These gasses are the reason asthma is on the rise, allergies are soaring and headaches keep coming back, not to mention the C-word (cancer). They fill your home with undetectable vapors that remain trapped within the four walls of your home or office. Have you ever received a rug or drapes and smelled something off about them? Well, those smells my friends are the gasses coming from the product. Those gasses are classified as VOC, Volatile Organic Compounds; Formaldehyde, Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and Phthalates are among some of the many toxic chemicals used. They hide in fabrics, flooring, paint, furniture, wood, foam and insulation, just to mention a few.
Start asking important questions
At Flow Designs, our goal is to bring awareness to these issues and to help you make smarter choices when sourcing products for your home to get you to start asking important questions when sourcing new items. Questions like what is this made of? Where is it made? and who made it? Asking these questions will help you see that not everything is as transparent as you may have thought. Just like the food you buy, making sure you know the “ingredients” is an important factor when purchasing new items for the space you spend the most time in. These choices have an overall impact on your health and the health of your family and pets.
Our commitment to eco-friendly vendors
At Flow Designs, we have made it apart of our mission to offer well made, sustainable, healthier furniture options for our community. We feel that your health, time and money are among the greatest assets and we want to protect them. At this point we have found two vendors that we think are doing great things; Rowe/ Robin Bruce Furniture and Newport Cottages. Both extraordinary furniture lines are eco-friendly, and also made in the USA! They are committed to the environment and stand out among the many other manufacturers out there. We hope that by investing in well-made, eco-friendly furniture it will improve your indoor air quality, save you money and time by having a quality made product that will last you many years, and keep the poorly made items from filling up our landfills.
About Rowe/Robin Bruce furniture:
Rowe Furniture has launched the EcoRowe initiative, making a solid commitment to eco-friendly manufacturing processes and sustainable product development. EcoRowe focuses on crucial elements by selecting fabrics produced from natural fibers, renewable fibers, and the use of wood from replenished, domestic forests for the frames and the choice of two eco-friendly seats cushion cores. The eco-cushion core contains plant-based, renewable materials, which replace significant amounts of petroleum-based materials used in standard foam cushions. The eco-down blend cushion core is a modern combination of high-resiliency foam with recycled fiber and a blend of duck feather and down. The cotton ticking used to encase the feather and down is no longer bleached, creating healthier options. Each piece of Rowe and Robin Bruce furniture includes eco-wood and eco-cushion cores. With your choice of fabrics, you can create a complete eco-friendly piece of furniture.
Eco-Friendly Materials Used in their Production
- Arm cardboard: 100% recycled paperboard
- Corrugated cardboard: greater than 25% made from recycled corrugated containers
- Down cushions filler made from recycled plastic bottles and ticking material is no longer bleached
- Springs: made from recycled iron ore
- Nails/Screws: Uncoated. Instead, a water-based lubricant is used.
- Foam: a percentage of the Polyol chemicals come from plant-based renewable, raw materials. Also, the foam is PBDE free and is manufactured without the use of any flame retardants.
- Cotton: 97% recycled materials
- Wovens/Non-Wovens: Some bleaching process eliminated
Click here for more information about Eco Rowe
About Newport Cottages
Newport Cottages is another great line we have invested in. They are a family run business based out of southern California who strive for quality and craftsmanship. Each piece they make is created using select hardwood, sustainably harvested, and then sent over to the woodshop, where cuts are Meticulously made, hand sanded and then carefully applied with low VOC stains for the perfected look. All of these are made to order items and are custom made for you. With each crib sold, the company plants a tree.
Click here for more information about Newport Cottages
Flow Designs commitments to the environment
We will continue to search for vendors committed to creating healthier options for the home and environment, so you can continue to kiss, drink and binge on Netflix while enjoying your sofa or chair, with those you love. In the meantime, we are working on putting together a second-hand furniture package that would allow you to purchase a room of second-hand furniture, perfectly curated for your specific needs, style and budget!
For more information about VOC’s and other harmful toxins please click here
Happy New Year! It’s that time again when we start to make resolutions and goals for change. This year I invite you to start thinking about taking small steps to make your resolutions and goals a reality. Set yourself up with the opportunity to succeed and remember that success doesn’t happen overnight. It happens after continued effort by changing your habits in small increments. It requires you to start somewhere, wherever you are in life, just start. Choosing to begin that journey towards the vision you have for yourself.
My journey towards starting somewhere began back in 2010
I was struggling with who I was. I wanted to be a great interior designer and a marathon runner. The problem was I had just graduated from design school and I wasn’t running. I knew that the only way for me to become that person I had envisioned was for me to just start. So I took out a piece of paper and wrote down the words you have to start somewhere in big bold letters. With that simple action, I began my journey and I started to run. At first, it was just a mile every day, not nearly enough to be a marathon runner but enough to get back in shape. With time I turned that one mile onto two miles, two miles turned into three, and then eventually I was running 6 miles plus at a time. I had realized that becoming a marathon runner wasn’t my goal, my goal was to be a runner. At the same time, I set out to gain experience as an interior designer, knowing that through my experience I would develop and enhance my ability to not just be an interior designer but to be a great one.
Starting somewhere has become my motto.
It has become how a big task becomes an achievable task. When having a large project I must tackle, I start with making a list. When I need to get back into a healthy diet, I start by making one good choice a day. I choose one small habit and change it. I choose to be better than I was the day before. Slowly but surely, day by day the ripples are created and the change occurs. Sometimes it happens quickly, sometimes it takes months but eventually, those ripples you create will become waves! Once you have created those waves the journey you have taken will allow you to see your progress, see your strengths and everything you are capable of mentally and physically.
As an interior designer, I set out to help my clients start somewhere every day by showing them the possibilities that can be in their homes, by making simple changes to their environment. However, the phrase start somewhere trickles to everything in life. A while ago I worked in a gift shop. One day a lady came in admiring these beautiful scarfs we had for sale. She picked one up, tried it on and looked at my co-worker saying, “These scarves are so pretty, I would love to be able to wear a scarf but I am not a scarf person, how does one become a scarf person?” she asked this as she wrapped the scarf adoringly around her neck. My co-worker responded, “You start by wearing a scarf!” such a simple and obvious answer! The lady ended up buying the scarf and wearing it home that day. With that one small but simple action she became a scarf person.
My point is if you want to wear a scarf, run a marathon, have an organized closet, decorate a room, or eat healthily, all you have to do is Start Somewhere, change one small habit, believe in yourself to do so and give yourself time and by 2021 when you look into the mirror, your reflection will amaze you!
If you need a place to help with your journey of starting somewhere we have a workshop the first Saturday of every month at 1 PM. The workshop is catered towards interior design but we are happy to help you take on any task you see fit.
Happy New Year, and may the Flow be with you as you Start Somewhere in 2020!!
The Story Behind Flow Designs
A long time ago, a creative momma had a dream. She dreamt of opening a little studio to create her art. In her art studio she would display her watercolor paintings, sell her witty cards and offer fun art classes for kids in the community.
Although, she was excited to follow through with her dream, this very creative momma put it on hold until the day her daughters were out of the house and taken care of. Until then she spent her time painting, reading, and writing down her goals, filling her mind with an abundance of wealth for when the day finally came to open her studio.
Then on a sunny July day in Tucson AZ, this very creative momma was thrown a curve ball and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Six months later, at the age of fifty eight Suzanne Russell Giacomini passed away leaving her dream unfinished and her book unwritten.
After the loss of their mom, Kristen and Katie started to have a dream of their own; one that honored their moms vision by uniting the things she loved most; family, art, kindness, and design. A place where creativity flows, passions persevere, and change is ever present and ongoing. A place for people to connect, laugh and see their own dreams come true. Flow Designs, a take off of Kristen’s childhood nickname” Flo”, is a collaboration of dreams manifested by 3 women, brought to fruition just for you!!!
Welcome to my Flow…..
Hello Hello! I am so excited for my very first blog post. I never in a million years thought I would be blogging, yes I have dreamed up a storm in the business department but blogging…..it never seemed for me. So why now?…… well to be honest, my team of bad ass mommas—yes my team is a full on female tribe of bad ass mommas, who have supported and helped Flow Designs become more than just a dream, well they told me I had to blog.
So this got me thinking if I have to blog then I have to make it the best damn blog and the best way for me to do that is to be real, be raw and be truthful, perhaps some spelling errors, grammar mistakes and my favorite curse words….that is all part of me, the real me…..the good and the bad and sometimes the ugly. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it….. I’m not teaching your kids English or trying to run the country. I just want everyone to have a happy, healthy, safe place to call their own. A home that comforts and warms, supports you and cheers you on. A home that functions effectively and effortlessly so you can live your life to the max. I am a straight shooter and deeply rooted by the bonds that tie us all together. I am moved by kindness, driven by passion and a huge believer in faith. I am goofy and a big dork. I am not perfect by any means…..which brings me to my first point:
I am not your typical interior designer. I am not about excess, I am about access. I am about allowing you to have full access to the life you want, and a home that supports that life. I am about embracing who you are and what you have. I strive to bring meaning to things and connect your heart to them as well. I am all about simple ways to organize and declutter. But don’t get the wrong idea here…I am not a Marie Kundo …but I am damn good at what I do, which is creating a home that brings meaning, purpose, and value into your life. A home that promotes wellness and mental health ,a place that allows you to create more memories and more meaning.
I wasn’t always like this, in my early twenties I was a materialistic and selfish young lady. I only cared about myself. Looking back, I remember thinking how important it was for me to receive the newest Tiffany’s bracelet or to make sure I had a new outfit, the perfect tan, and my nails done for a night on the town. I cared about so many things except the things that mattered most. Then one day I lost my very best friend. My number one fan, my biggest and loudest cheerleader… my Momma. I saw the light and from that day on I made a vow to not let materialistic things get to me. After losing my mom at 25 I woke up from a world of selfish indulgences and found the true meaning of life. At this point my bachelors degree in Interior Design, didn’t seem to jive with that picture. It just didn’t seem to be the right path for me anymore.
I then spent the next ten years trying to figure out how I can manipulate my interior design degree into something that had more meaning and value. And with that came the beginning of my journey towards Flow Designs. I had a vision of a place where I could create a new culture of design, one that brings hope, spread light and joy….. not envy or covetousness, but simple, pure, friendly happy light. A place that promotes wellness and encourages people to change the way they think about their home and the things they put in it. I found this to be the base of my passion, a base built on love and pain, connection and inclusion. A solid base to start building a world that is kinder to each other and the planet. A good place to start to take action in the things I am truly passionate about, as a mother, as a woman and as a human being.
So we would like to welcome you to our Flow, welcome to our story, welcome to Flow Designs!!!! Let’s get creating and inspiring positive change!!!!!
Thank you for reading this,
The Golden Knob
Hello Hello! Thank you for joining me for another blog post. As we get ready to open our doors we are so excited to announce our first initiative, The Golden Knob. The Golden Knob is a brass door knob that was attached to the back door of Flows when we bought the building. After some updating the door and the knob were removed from the permanent structure. The door was donated, but the knob remained at Flows. There was no reason this old brass knob stuck around, it just got kicked off to the side and was one of those things we would deal with later…… Then one day, after looking at the knob I said to my sister “what the hell are we going to do with this knob?” She looked at me and shrugged her shoulders like “ I have no idea, get rid of it, throw it away.”
Well, the eco concise person I am had a hard time letting this simple, old brass knob. A knob that once was a part of the building, that had, mostly likely bend turned and touched by the countless number of people in the community. Something was attracting me to it. After a few days I picked up the knob and asked myself again “what should we do with you?” it was at this time, it dawned on me……. Pass it on…… not as if someone out there would actually want this beat up brass knob, but more as a symbolic representation of opening a new door, turning a new chapter, and creating a fresh start. Pass it on…..
You see a few months ago I was blessed with an opportunity to help a family in need. Our lives crossed paths. They told me their story and without hesitation, I offered my services, at no cost. This chance encounter became the beginning of a beautiful relationship, a deeply powerful experience and moments of utter amazement. You see this family had suffered a great loss, one no words can describe. But through this experience I found so much hope, love and gratefulness. I thought this is what the golden knob can be! A way to pay it forward, to help create change that inspires people to continue believing in all good things.
With that said, we are very very happy to announce the Golden Knob initiative! Our way of paying it forward to the community. You, the community will be able to nominate an individual that could benefit from some flow in their life. Each Golden Knob recipient will receive a free service from Flow Designs and once the job is done they will help decide the next recipient of the Golden Knob!!!!! More details to come, please stay tuned.
Thank you for reading this,