One can only assume when I popped out, kid number 5, over 22 years ago, my mother rationalized, “That’s probably enough- one of them will keep me out of a nursing home.” Well, the results aren’t in for that prospect yet (the sanity clock miraculously ticks on), though she does occasionally reap the benefits of breeding an army. One of them- awesome Christmas presents. When we get our pockets together, the Francese kids can really rev up the opportunity to give back; this Christmas, Mom was blessed with a new coffee table.
A second-hand store enthusiast, Mom has an eclectic array of furnishings sprinkled through out her home. When it came to designing this beauty, she had a few goals in mind. First it had to match a very unique, sofa-table-esque piece she must have found at the corner of Lost and Forgotten. Of course, the sofa-table thing undeniably brings the room together but it is a one of a kind in terms of build and style. Second, it had to be large enough for five grandchildren to simultaneously play, color and read. Third, it had to withstand the sticky, smearing, careless hands of those same five grandchildren (with the inevitability of more to come).
We threw all that into the Vermont Woods Studios custom furniture crock pot and, in due time, served the beauty now resting front and center in the family room. The top is a natural Cherry with a rustic finish to match the antiquated look Mom loves so much. The base is Maple, painted black. I chose Maple for its durability and light color. Overtime, the Cherry will darken and serve a smooth transition from bottom to top. And finally the finish-a non-toxic, kid friendly and kid resistant, lacquer.
Mom is thrilled with her new coffee table and the results her small army is yielding. And next year? Her outdoor coffee table won’t last for long- why not some Polywood furniture that will last a lifetime!
Here's a great story and just in time for Christmas. Resarchers at The University of Chicago did a series of experiments to demonstrate that other animals (besides humans) can be kind, compassionate and unselfish.
They used pairs of rats. One rat was locked in a tube and the other was free outside the tube. Free rats were able to figure out how to liberate their imprisoned pals.
So they did. Pretty cool, right?
But the amazing thing is that even when a favorite treat (chocolate chips!) was placed on the scene, the free rats unlocked their friends FIRST even though they subsequently had to share! “Basically they told us (freeing another rat) is as important as eating chocolate,” said study author Peggy Mason of the University of Chicago. “That’s a very striking thing. In some cases, the rats first took the chocolate chips out of a container, but didn’t eat them, then freed the other rat and shared “almost as if they were serving them chocolate.”
So Ken says the lesson is to eat chocolate chips with your friends this Chirstmas, but there might just be something more that we could learn from rats.
Oh, I wasn't going to mention this but it IS a critical part of the study. Female rats freed their pals every time. 17 of the 24 males did and… sadly… there were days when the male rats took the day off from helping their trapped partner althogether. But the females never did.
All across the USA people are talking about giving Christmas Gifts that are "Made in America" and– we're beginning to see some pretty impressive results in the form of job creation.
Well, here's another way do something great with your holiday shopping. How about donating to local food pantries and shelters in honor of the people on your Christmas list? Instead of scrambling around trying to figure out what on earth to get all those people who already have everything, why not honor them by helping someone who's hungry or cold?
Give the gift of hope to those who have lost hope. How many parents who were in a position just like you and me very recently– have no job today?
In our area we have many local organizations in need of donations, including the Reformer Christmas Stocking, Feed the Thousands and The Vermont Food Bank, in addition to local churches that each have a program to give hope and help. This year the need is more critical than ever.
What's interesting is that when given a choice, all of the people I polled said they would rather have this kind of donation given in their name than receive another pair of gloves for Christmas. I bet your friends would say the same. What do you think?
We're celebrating our Made in America Holiday Shopping Challenge success with a store-wide 15% Off Fine Furniture Sale. This has been such an exciting week for us, with the ABC World News crew spotlighting our efforts to get friends and relatives to "buy American" this Christmas shopping season. Manjula and Dennis decided to share our revelry with a big sale– it's store-wide from tomorrow until December 13.
Don't forget to watch us (or set your DVR) tomorrow night on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer and then join with all of us who are promising to buy at least some American made gifts this Christmas– and be sure to get counted on Facebook!
As a company that sells exclusively American made furniture (Vermont-made, actually) we're psyched to get this level of traction behind our push to create more American jobs. As consumers, we have the power and what better time than Christmas (when we're each spending an average of $700 on gifts) to excercise that power!
That's you! Let's be honest. If you're reading this, you can probably count yourself among the "ones who have everything" right? And your friends and family are in that group too. OK, I'm not trying to be a big grinch and stomp down on all our Cyber Weekend shopping fun. I'm just suggesting that some of the frenzy whipped up over these unbelievable deals is a bit contrived– maybe you and those on your List don't really need or want an extra flat screen TV anyway.
So what to buy that would have some meaning?
Here's a short list of my Top 4 Favorite Christmas and Holiday Gifts:
- A $20 donation to Heifer International could offer an education (and a new world) to a child otherwise doomed to a life of poverty in a third world country. If you can read this story about Beatrice Biira and not be inspired to swap a goat or flock of chickens for the Blu-ray player, I'll be surprised.
- For the animal lovers on your list, what could be more thoughtful than the World Wildlife Fund symbolic adoption of an endangered species? Tigers are my favorite animals and they are among the most critically endangered species on earth, but WWF offers over 100 adoption choices from Red Eyed Tree Frog to the Ring Tailed Lemur. Adoption gifts include a stuffed animal, a personalized, framed adoption certificate and a photo of the animal in the wild. These are fun for kids and adults alike.
- Do you have any outdoor enthusiasts on your list? How about an acre of rainforest for them? The Nature Conservancy has several gift options including adopting an acre of rainforest in Costa Rica, planting trees in Brazil and adopting hummingbirds. I should mention too that TNC has a cool Green Gift Monday webpage with all kinds of ideas for gifting repsonsibly.
- Swimmers? Surfers? Sailors? Definitely check out Oceana's Marine Wildlife Adoption and Gift Center and adopt a whale, turtle, shark, octopus, penguin or whatever your favorite ocean species is.
The best part is that there's no Black Friday or Cyber Monday RUSH on buying these items. But… you could take a big load off your shoulders and get everything done today. Then you could relax and enjoy the rest of the Christmas season in peace– what a concept!
Many thanks to all our customers, craftspeople, suppliers and friends who have supported our work at Vermont Woods Studios Furniture this year. With your help we have managed to surpass our sales goals this year while still maintaining our high standards for quality and customer service. We're pretty proud of that, especially during a time of such economic distress.
We'll take a minute or two to celebrate and revel but for the most part we are focused on the future and there's no time to lose. 2011 brings many new challenges as we continue to pursue our environmental mission by expanding our sustainable Vermont made furniture lines and adding a whole new line of eco-friendly recycled outdoor furniture to our store.
We hope you'll continue to follow our work and help us spread the news about the beautiful heirloom quality, solid wood furniture that Vermont is famous for. Vermont truly is the Fine Furniture Capitol of America and now this authentic craftsmanship is finally available online and across the country– and indeed the world. That's worth celebrating!
Wishing you all the best of good health, happiness and prosperity in 2011,
Peggy, Ken, Kendall, Riley, Manjula, Rebecca, Douglas, Dennis and our whole family of craftspeople at Vermont Woods Studios Furniture.