Friday, February 20, 2009

APLS (Affluent People Living Sustainably)

For those of us who are actively concerned about the environment, (and I acknowledge even we are active in varying degrees), I submit this post. I write from the perspective of one who came of age in the 70's, when there was much less thought about our planet ever being worn out. We were teased for being health food nuts or commune-istas, who wore Earth Shoes and went without makeup. We prepared our baby food from scratch, carried tote bags made from recycled blue jeans and made granola . . . . and thought we were saving the planet. It was a time before plastic water bottles became de rigueur, and most items sold in America were still made in America. I subscribed to Mother Earth News and we talked about leaving Miami and moving to a farm in the mountains of North Carolina where we would raise our own vegetables and make butter like my grandmother was doing. We investigated solar homes and windmills and thought seriously about eliminating plastic from our household. Grandmom was a model of self sufficiency, with a good supply of oil lamps, a big garden, cows, fresh eggs from the neighbors and a compost heap. She recycled every drop of water, from dishpan and bathtub to garden, had a rain barrel and swapped local services, like butchering for the hay she grew. She preserved fruits and veggies and made jellies and pickles and homemade bread. I was raised in the shadow of a truly green granny. Somehow, it just didn't take hold like it should have. There were times, of course, when I made right decisions . . . . but everyday life and career and child raising became more of a priority than being green. No excuses - just the facts. I am excruciatingly proud of my daughter and son-in-law, who have opted to live the green life. They are conscious of every purchase and the impact it makes on our planet. As I read Kellie's blog I wish I had the opportunity to change some of the lifestyle choices I made over the past 30 years. I wouldn't have used so much plastic, or aerosol, or driven so many miles, or purchased as many foreign products. Woulda, coulda, shoulda . . . . The past is past, and I can only determine to make my new covenant from today forward. I will add baby steps to what I already do, to change my lifestyle. For those of us who wish to make an impact, here are a few of the first steps we can follow.
(These are the easy ones - copy and post this list.)
1. No more plastic water bottles. Use BPA-free, reusable water bottles. Purify your tap water at home. Recycle your Brita water filters at Whole Foods Market. Drink more water and less of what's packaged in plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
2. Shop less! Think of new ways to wear the same clothing. Buy natural fibers, wear 'em longer.
4. Rid your home/life of plastic bags. Take reusable shopping bags everywhere.
5. Begin using cloth napkins instead of paper towels and paper napkins.
6. Store food and leftovers in reusable dishes, not plastic. (Make 'em stop producing it!)
7. Buy/trade/barter for secondhand products you need & pass your stuff on to someone else.
8. Stay home one day a week, or carpool, use mass transit, walk, bike, save gas somehow. Make fewer trips, combine errands.
9. Buy local. Diminish the transport of products across country. Support small businesses.
10. Buy American.
11. Take your own reusable containers; reduce Styrofoam and plastic takeout trash. Can you think of a way to use one less plastic trash bag per week?
12. Adjust your thermostat by as little as 4 degrees.
13. Cook once, eat 3 times. Make enough to freeze and have it again. (I cook in BIG batches.)
14.Challenge yourself to reduce your trash. Buy minimally packaged stuff. Recycle.
15. Zone the heating of your home. Turn down the hot water heater. Line dry.
16. Make a budget for clothing, food, utilities, gas. It makes you think before you buy.
17. Re-gift. Pass along your favorite books, magazines, DVDs, add homemade cookies - voila!
18. Use just a little less: soap, t.p., shampoo, conditioner, right down the list. You may consume one less plastic container in each category, each year. It adds up!
19. Join a co-op, blog, or support group to keep you honest and inspire you to new heights.
20. Memorize the Depression-Era adage: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!
These are a few of the changes I made in 2008, and there are more to be launched this year. I now want to be the green granny. I will post my successes from time to time. I hope you'll visit My So Called Green Life, and enjoy Kellie's escapades, attempts and victories.
She's an inspiration!

Delight Your Senses

If you live in the Denver area, or are visiting the city, I invite you to stop into Patina Antiques and Home for a delightful sensory experience. The shop is humming with activity. Each day we unload and introduce a variety of fresh finds, build inviting displays and create a unique shopping experience for our guests. There's a hint of excitement in the air, because we never tire of hearing comments like, "WOW - how do you find all of these beautiful things?", and "I love the way you display things - it's inspiring!" When we hear that, we know we've succeeded in our mission, because at Patina, we make a concerted effort to excite, inspire and delight all of your senses. From the background music to the seasonal treats to the general eye candy, we want Patina to become your happy place.
Personally, I love the hunt! I shop the countryside, searching for just the right items to please my most discriminating customers and friends. With the help of a few trusted pickers, I have access to further reaches than I could ever cover on my own. A French baby bathtub from the 1920's, French baguette trays and bread boards, English ironstone pitchers and bowls, European watering cans and hat molds are just a few of the many exquisite finds from over seas. There are almost too many things to explore in just one visit . . . . with every turn revealing more and more vintage and antique treasures.
In addition to the old, we have chosen a select group of 'found objects', those just too wonderful pieces of nature that blend so perfectly with your other furnishings. Birds nests, African porcupine quills, ostrich eggs, sea shells, heart shaped stones, tiny bird eggs, ferns pressed in picture frames . . . . an ever changing assortment of collections to entice you. Imagine a coffee table display: a silver tray, layered with an 1800's white platter, filled with moss, fern and a birds nest, which, in turn, is filled with tiny antique photographs. . . . and topped with a large glass cloche for protection. Or, you might like a stack of leather books creating an elevation to set off a silver pedestal candy dish, filled with antique typewriter keys. The possibilities are endless . . . . A visit to Patina will definitely inspire you to think differently about using your antiques in a fresh and up to the minute way. You're invited . . . . stop by any day, Monday through Saturday, between the hours of 10 and 5. We're ready for you!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Right Stuff

With the economy flailing and customers watching their budgets, I have to ask how the shop is still thriving. One of the comments I hear regularly is that our product mix always provides something for our customers to dream about. When buying merchandise for Patina Antiques, I make an attempt to visualize an item in a home setting. Where and how will the purchaser use this beautiful, (or funky), piece of history? Will it be functional or will it be strictly decorative? Would I use it in any house I was styling? Does the item feel good? Does it immediately cause a spiritual reunion with the past? Does it make me smile? These qualifiers help me determine if an item is likely to speak to people who meander through the shop. There are many antique malls and shops filled with the mundane and plentiful objects of yesteryear. Competition is stiff and expendable income for non-essentials is limited. How can I be one step ahead of my competition? What does it take to survive and prosper in the lean times? (In thirty years I have seen many lean times.) The answer, I believe, is have the right stuff. When we hesitate to purchase a new house or a new car, because the economy causes us to tighten our belts, we still have a desire to surround ourselves with beautiful, "feel good" things. I want to be the source for those things that cause pleasant retrospect. A beautiful object that makes my customer remember her grandmother may also make her remember the hard times grandmother endured and survived. The encouragement received from a timeworn, hand carved wooden bowl may be just the lift we all need. A beautiful message from generations past. So many times I've heard someone say, "I wasn't planning to spend any money when I came in today, but this . . . . ". I smile and acknowledge that intention. I've had it myself so many times. But you know the old saying - the time to buy an antique is when you see it. If it speaks to you, calls your name, evokes sweet memories, appeals to your spirit, maybe it's meant to be. Maybe the right antiques will always be necessary to us, no matter what the economy says . . . .

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Branching Out

I opened my first antiques shop 30 years ago, knowing nothing about retail and truthfully, not much more about antiques. I was simply determined to gather together some of the things I loved and present them to others who loved antiques. Looking back, I realize how naive I was about the potential for financial disaster. I was passionate, and I thought there must be others who loved to surround themselves with pieces of the past . . . . and surely they would be seeking a shop like mine . . . . right? Over the years I've been blessed to meet some of the nicest people in the country. I began on a shoestring, and when the first load of merchandise sold, I was off to shop for more. Amid oohs and aahs throughout the shop and long warm conversations about memories and cherished family keepsakes, I started to feel more confident, and began a little notebook of items my customers were looking for. My business blossomed, my customer list grew and my shop grew to house an abundance of beautiful treasures. I soon realized that a large part of my enjoyment was derived from creating my vignettes. I was learning that the way an item was displayed could make all the difference in how my customer perceived it's value and desirability. Context and texture, lighting and elevation . . . . these things made a big difference. It really stunned me when customers began asking if they could take a photograph before purchasing an item, so they could be confident they could duplicate my display exactly when they got home. Of course I was pleased and delighted that they loved my ideas. It wasn't long until someone asked if I would visit their home and give them some advice on how to diplay their collection of quilts. Then someone else asked, and then . . . . a little branch of my business was born. One day I came home to find my, (female), mail carrier peeking intently through the window of my condominium. She was embarrassed to be caught, but confessed that she was intrigued with my decor, and wanted so much to see more. I invited her in, and my little styling business was launched. I'm delighted to tell you that all these years later, a large part of my joy is still in assisting others who love to surround themselves with beautiful things.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Photography by Jeffrey March

My dear friend, and talented photographer, Jeff March was kind enough to photograph some of the antiques currently in my store.


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