The next time you want to treat yourself or someone special, consider choosing an item made by a local artisan. Here are some tips to help you find original, hand-crafted products.
What to look for
Artisans work in a variety of different mediums including wood, glass, leather, ceramic, metal and textiles. The kinds of products that these materials become, however, is limited only by the artisan’s imagination. Here’s just a sample:
• Jewelry (bracelets, rings, pendants, and earrings)
• Clothes and accessories (hats, belts, handbags, and shawls)
• Decorative art (paintings, sculptures, candles, and mobiles)
• Homeware (furniture, quilts, ceramics, and cutlery)
Where to shop
Artisans tend to be resourceful individuals, and they have multiple ways of showcasing their products. Here are some places you can find their wares:
• Online. Most local artisans have an online shop you can order from. Alternatively, they may sell their products through a digital marketplace like Etsy.
• Consignment shops. These stores sell a variety of products made by local artisans, which means you can often find an interesting assortment of goods and specialty items.
• Craft fairs and markets. Events like these are a chance to meet local artisans in person and learn more about their trade.
So, why settle for mass-produced items when you can purchase one-of-a-kind products made with love? Shop for local artisanal goods today.
3 reasons to choose local shops over e-commerce giants
Massive online retailers like Amazon have become a top choice for many shoppers because of their low prices and speedy deliveries. However, there are important advantages to supporting local businesses when you shop online. Here are three reasons to champion the merchants in your area when you want to buy something on the internet.
1. Shorter delivery routes
When you buy products from an international e-commerce company, your package may need to travel thousands of miles to reach you. This emits significantly more greenhouse gases than if you select items from stores that are closer to home.
2. Better use of resources
Small, local businesses typically make it a high priority to use renewable energy sources and eco-friendly materials when designing their products. In many cases, this means the item will be made better and last longer.
3. Personalized services
Even if you shop from their online store, you can still speak with the local merchants you buy from over the phone or via a live chat platform. This gives you access to personalized advice and recommendations about your purchase that you likely won’t get from an e-commerce giant. Additionally, you’ll have the option to visit their store and see the products in person before you make a selection.
Next time you want to buy something online, be sure to reflect on these points before you check out your order.
Kids’ Corner: How to make an herbarium
Do you like to collect beautiful flowers and unique-looking leaves? If so, a herbarium is a perfect way to preserve these finds and learn more about them. Here’s how to create a scrapbook for your plant specimens.
• Collect a variety of flowers and leaves on your walk. Avoid doing this on a rainy day, otherwise, the wet plants might rot while they dry.
• Place your finds between two pieces of newspaper, paper towel, or blotting paper to absorb any moisture and help them dry out.
• Stack a few large, heavy books on top of the plants. Leave them like this to flatten for at least a week.
• Arrange the dried flowers and leaves on the pages of a notebook or in a binder. Use clear glue or transparent tape to stick them in place.
• Write the name of each plant next to it. You can also include interesting details like its smell and where you found it.
Feel free to add more plants over time. If you want ideas about how to design your herbarium, there are plenty of tutorials online.
Choices (and prices) abound with vacuums
If you’re thinking about replacing your old, broken-down vacuum cleaner, get ready for a dizzying array of options at a huge variety of price points.
Budget or high-end models, bagless, cordless, robotic, allergy-friendly — today’s vacuum cleaners aren’t like your grandmother’s heavy old upright model.
Cordless vacuums offer a lightweight, versatile alternative to the bulky corded appliances of the past, and the newer models can handle all types of flooring and other cleaning projects with the same power as a corded vacuum. The lighter weight and maneuverability are great for homes with lots of stairs. But buyers should be aware — these vacuums often have lower debris collection capacity than their corded counterparts, and without regular charging, a low battery could interrupt your housecleaning.
A high-end model like a Dyson V15 is priced around $700, while a more affordable cordless vacuum like the Moosoo M X6 still offers great cleaning power for a much more affordable $90.
Bagless vacuums substitute the traditional vacuum bag with a clear chamber where debris collects. When the chamber is full, simply dump it in the trash. They’re a lower waste and less expensive to operate than vacuums that require bags, but for allergy sufferers, the increased exposure to allergens — especially when emptying the chamber — might make this a non-starter. A higher-end model like the Sharp APEX costs around $390, while the Bissell Cleanview will run you about $80.
Robot vacuums, unlike humans, never forget to vacuum the carpet and can usually be relied upon to find hidden crumbs behind the sofa and those pesky clumps of pet hair. Some of the latest models can even mop and empty themselves. But the dust collection bins have limited capacity and the robots aren’t ideal for multi-level homes with lots of steps. If you’ve got deep pockets and want a robot that empties itself, try the iRobot Roomba s9+, which retails for about $950. The iLife A9, however, still does a good job on the low-pile carpet for a more affordable $220.
If you have asthma or allergies, you may want to purchase a vacuum with a HEPA filter to keep the air around the vacuum free of flying dust, dirt, pet hair, dander and other indoor air pollutants that might go airborne while you’re sweeping. The Miele Complete C3 canister vacuum offers HEPA filtration and a sealed air system to avoid kicking up extra dust particles and runs about $1,100. The Hoover WindTunnel 3 High-Performance Pet upright vacuum also offers HEPA filtration, as well as extra features to get pet hair off the floor — all for about $200.
5 uses for technology in a seniors’ residence
Many seniors living in retirement residences benefit from technology. Here are five ways that older adults can use modern devices in their everyday lives.
1. To stay in touch. No matter the distance, seniors can continue to stay connected with their families and attend important events such as birthdays and anniversaries thanks to video conferencing technologies.
2. To facilitate planning. Residents can easily register for activities, view the dining room menu, or reserve a table for lunch via a dedicated website or application.
3. To improve safety. Technology can be used to detect falls, send residents medication reminders and allow seniors with reduced mobility to attend virtual medical consultations.
4. To enhance cognitive abilities. Reading, watching movies, and listening to music can help residents maintain their cognitive abilities. In addition, sudoku-type games and crossword puzzles are excellent for exercising the brain.
5. To maintain autonomy. Smart devices, including voice assistants like Amazon Alexa, can help simplify certain daily tasks, provide remote assistance and remind residents of appointments and special events.
If you’re planning to move to a retirement residence, you should first find out about internet access at the facility. In addition, many residences offer introductory computer courses, so you don’t have to worry if you aren’t very tech-savvy.
Online shopping: support local initiatives
For good reason, e-commerce has become a significant part of our daily lives. After all, it can be very convenient to make purchases with a few clicks on your computer, tablet or smartphone, and have the products you need to be delivered right to your door. However, it’s important to maintain a commitment to supporting local businesses, even if you shop on the internet. Here are a few tips to help you find the online stores of merchants in your area.
An increasing number of websites are being launched as search engines designed to help you find merchants in your area who offer the products you want. Some of these directories even allow you to refine your search based on whether you’re looking for food, gifts, or other goods.
Once you’ve identified a local business that sells what you need, you’ll be redirected to their online sales platform to make a purchase or browse their selection.
Many businesses have a presence on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Additionally, your municipality and other local organizations may share posts about these retailers on their own social media pages. You can also use the messaging feature on these platforms to get information and recommendations.
While it might take a bit more effort to find online retailers in your area, supporting these businesses is a great way to boost the local economy.
How to invest in the planet
More than ever, people are interested in using their investment money in ways that help the planet, directing funds toward green stocks and other areas.
The trend goes by many names, including green investing, ethical investing, socially responsible investing, and ESG investing (for environmental, social, and governance). When you do your research, check into a fund or advisor’s methodology of choosing investments to make sure it aligns with your goals.
Also, consider that green investing has been on an upswing, which could be a cause for caution as well as enthusiasm. Kiplinger says that from the start of 2020 through late January 2021, “a basket of U.S. renewable-energy stocks has out-gained the broad S&P 500 index by more than 200 percentage points.”
It added that the median price-earnings ratio of the renewable names, based on projected profits, was 40 percent higher than the S&P 500’s.
In other words, green investing is at a high and could encounter a bit of a shake-up, though its long-term prospects still look favorable. A number of exchange-traded funds include portfolios of companies with an environmental focus.
So how to get started? A couple of NerdWallet suggestions include investing in ESG funds and investing in sustainable stocks. ESG funds are mutual funds graded using ESG principles, investing in companies that have a sustainable and societal impact.
You can also request an impact report that details the effect your investment has had on the real world.