The Perks of Donating Your Stuff

Just got a note from Jessica over at ReStore, Home Improvement Centers in Spokane, WA. Jessica is attempting to get the word out.

The ReStore Home Improvement Center, a local non-profit, is seeking donations of good quality cabinet sets for the kitchen. They work with over three hundred local contractors, retailers and manufacturers to take in donations of overstocked product, product of the wrong order or cabinets that are a little bit less than idea from retailers and manufacturers (we can even accept display cabinets!), kitchen cabinet sets from remodeling projects through contractors (your client can get a tax deduction for donating, and we’ll pick them up for free), and we even offer deconstruction to remove cabinet sets. Some of the benefits of donating to ReStore include:

  • Lower disposal costs
  • Environmentally friendly, our organization helps keep useful building materials from the landfill
  • You’ll work with a non-profit with a solid reputation for helping local homeowners improve their homes and communities
  • Free pick-up service for donated items
  • All donated items are tax deductible, we will provide a receipt on the day of pick-up
  • Another terrific Boston source is the building Materials Resource Center. I have donated my old bathroom lighting there before. The folks there are great!

Many communities have similar organizations — great places to donate and find (gently used items). How Green?!

The ONLY “Green” Business: Antiques


I need to come clean and be completely honest: I haven’t fully jumped on the “green” bandwagon. I love nature, spent tons of time in the woods, did a lot of camping out, love to fish and hunt, love the mountains and the ocean….I think I can accurately say that I love nature and Mother Earth. But sometimes, I am a bit unsure about all of the new age “green” living and “green” commercial product that are taking over the nation. I can’t say I’m a fan of the new light and am not a fan of Sheryl Crow’s crusade for us all to only use one piece of toilet paper…. for what? To make your face glasses easier to look through? I do not believe she was actually referring to cleaning reading glasses, I have my idea of what she was referring to, but I will leave that to others to determine.

Another case in point, the new “water saver” washers…. ugh. After two years of a smelly washer, long wash cycles, cleaning it thoroughly with a commercial product weekly, clothes that were not that shiny and clean, and a lot of complaining from my dear sweet husband who does the clothes washing, I sold our top of the line Samsung steam machines for a fifteen hundred dollar loss on Craig’s List and said good riddance! We replaced it with a good old fashioned Maytag, that does a way awesome job! So what if it isn’t as “water efficient” as all those new green washing machines? If I’m not happy, let’s just say nobody is happy! Only problem is, I can’t find a machine that folds and puts the clothes up!!! Do they make a “green” machine that will do that? That could get me on board for “green”!! So I tried to be green in that area, but it just didn’t work out.

To me, a lot of the “green” bandwagon is just a way for people to “feel good” about their actions; however, the ends may not justify the means. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but case in point is yearly on Earth Day, when everyone stops using the lights in their house for a couple hours or so. Sacrificing this first world luxury to give millions of earth lovers a drug high, knowing that that one hour has helped the earth, saved a lot of energy and made all those people feel so good about their act of kindness. There’s just 1 issue: when we all turn the lights back on to full power after that short time, it uses twice as much power as what was saved!!!!

Or like ethanol…. when to the best I can determine, by the time corn is planted, watered, sprayed with pesticides, fertilized that runs into rivers, harvested, processed and shipped to market, it costs more to make than it will ever save!!! (But it SOUNDS so good!) Plus, I just heard where in Indonesia, they are producing biofuel from Palm trees. It all sounds great in theory, correct? Issue is, how many acres of palms will be destroyed to save a few miles per gallon and reduce the carbon footprint? Sounds like the ends don’t justify the means to me, but what do I know? I better quiet myself before I get all political on you!

But, there is one “green industry” that’s been around for about 300 years and is still going strong. In my opinion, it’s the original “recycling business” if you will, and the best “green” business in the world!!! The antique business!!!! It doesn’t consume a lot of energy, saves a tree or three, doesn’t add to the pollution, puts old matter to good use, does not require chemical finishes, is extremely functional, has intrinsic value, never goes to a landfill, has no carbon footprint, passes from generation to generation, has asthetic beauty, creates jobs and spurs the economy!
Every time someone buys an antique, they are “going green!” I think I will contact Al Gore and get him to do a documentary on “green antiques”…. it could be called, “A Convenient Truth”. I don’t think it would even have to be doctored to win an Oscar!!! Sorry, getting political again, better shut up. (Plus, since he invented the internet, I better not pick on him).

Seriously, the antique business really is a “green” business and was “green before “green” was cool; folks just didn’t realize it! If you think about it, how many products are out there that can be “recycled” for 300 years and look and function as good as they did when they were new? Plus, besides fine wine, (and my lovely wife), how many things get better with age? (She tells me all the time she’s getting older, I just tell her it’s a beautiful “patina!”). Think of some of the things I mentioned earlier. Utilizing antiques instead of new furniture, helps save the rain forest. It’s amazing the quantity of timber that is cleared yearly in places like Indonesia, the Phillipines and South America for creating furniture! Plus, think about the fuel it takes to haul timber, power to mill it and ship it. The majority of new furniture has lacquer finishes; what happens to the spent chemicals? Where do the lacquer fumes go? It takes tons of cardboard to pack it and millions of gallons of fuel to ship and transport it. Plus, it’s mostly made in Asia now and the quality sucks!

So, the business of antiques in my opinion is “the ultimate green business.” So if you’re following this blog, start doing your portion to “go green” and save the earth…. buy used stuff! I promise you this is a habit you’ll feel good about, will help save the planet and you can know you’re also assisting your fellow man. (yes, guys like me!)

P.S. I forgot to mention the other great aspect of “going green” by buying antiques….you can also pay with “green”. That’s my favorite part! Gotta love it!

Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

A diamond today sparkles with blazing amazingness under bright electric lighting, being brighter than an older diamond cut in the 19th century. The beauty of an old cut diamond is best appreciated by the warm glow of gaslight, the diamond’s large facets emitting a soft radiance lost under the modern lightbulb.

Nighttime in the 19th century was still fairly dark as light sources gradually progressed from candlelight to kerosene lamps to gaslights by the mid-1800s. Compared to electric lighting, the very brightest gas streetlamp provided less light than a modern-day 25-watt bulb. Despite their limits, these early forms of illumination offered a romantic atmosphere for social life after twilight.

Under gaslight, the average area was 20 times brighter than it had been before, making formal meals and lavish balls during the 19th century even more sparkling affairs. The glimmer of a jeweled pendant or brooch could now be seen shining from all the way on the other side of a room, begetting the displays of increasingly opulent jewels over the course of the century. What’s more, a revival of the effusive French royal jewelry motifs of the 18th century greatly influenced the jewelry from the 1850s onward. The re-worked Louis XVI style was typified by large diamond-set flowerspray corsage ornaments and elaborate diamond necklaces, which sumptuously adorned the low, open necklines and deep decolletés of the crinoline dresses ‘de rigeur’ during the 19th century.

Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie admired the style of jewels worn by Marie Antoinette in the late seventeen hundreds, and so had part of the French Crown Jewels re-set by Bapst in much the same vein for their wedding in 1853. Fashion followed suit to compliment the Empress’ taste, the style of dress defined by tightly fitting bodices with low, square necklines and expansive crinoline skirts that were flatter in the front and fuller in the back.

Naturalism and the revival of the Napoleonic designs and motifs epitomized the style of jewelry in the second half of the 19th century. sprays of flowers, feathers and bows were depicted with numerous diamonds that appeared to float in their minimalistic metal settings, or ‘monture illusion’. Stones were most often set in silver-topped gold to augment the soft glow and subtle glimmer of their old cuts as well as to not tarnish the skin or fabrics. From the 1870s onward, diamonds became the gemstones par excellence – largely a result of the discovery of diamonds in South Africa in 1867.

Richly colored precious gems such as emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, along with semi-precious specimens of topaz, aquamarine and citrine, added a touch of color to many jewels and parures, accented by a plethora of diamonds for richness and display. However, diamonds and pearls proved the perfect combination of gems, and thus became the preferred look of jewelry designers. The silky luminescence of the pearl juxtaposed with the shining brilliance of the diamond paired most beautifully with the light skin of a woman and accentuated every luxurious fabric in any color.

Earrings were often set with a diamond or pearl drops, to balance the detailed and beautiful built up hairstyles while diamond-set brooches, tiaras and necklaces were all enriched with pearls. Since the 16th century, pearls had been prized after Elizabeth I popularized the natural wonder from the New World by wearing meters of them and even embroidered her gowns with them. At the start of the 19th century, pearls were more expensive than diamonds.

However, it is the sexy glow of the old cut diamonds that really evoke the glamour of this gilded period in jewelry history. Increased illumination at evening events provoked a demand for shinier and brighter jewels. This gave rise to the development of the popular antique cuts during the 19th century: the Old European Cut (the forefather of the modern Round Brilliant) and the Old Milner Cut (the precursor of the Antique Cushion Cut). Under the softer lighting of the period, the hand faceting, deep pavilion, open culet and small table of these old cuts resulted in a scintillation that had been unseen in diamonds until then.

As the century wore on, jewelry grew more splendid and delicate, with mounts becoming more open and airy – many were often articulated (or en tremblant). Thanks to the evolution of lighting, the 19th century came to end with some of the most graceful and evocative diamond jewels in history.