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A Minimalist Christmas | The Tree Alternative

With the world of things like Pinterest at our fingertips, it’s no surprise that people are jumping at the alternative of easier and smaller Christmas Tree solutions. When I was 18, I had rushed my boyfriend (now husband) to a big box store to buy a fake tree on sale. It had lasted several years which is great, I love decorating trees, but in a few of the places I had lived over the past few years, it was not ideal to have even the smaller scale tree I had. I didn’t even know there were other options!

It’s hard for people to justify investing in a tree that they only have out for a month in a year, and still be able to store it (and storage is valuable real estate in the apartment world!). Along with the tree, the decorations, lights etc., also need to be stored somewhere, so now it’s impeding even more.

For those who love the traditional tree-feel, I’ve seen many people go for the 2-3’ trees (in various colours: white, purple lights, black with red lights, traditional green with white or multi-coloured lights), which can be placed on tables (read: away from mischievous pets, and small fingers). I know my hubby and I lived in this very cramped basement apartment for 2 years where my (what I thought was small) 6’ tree took up most of our hall space! It was very invasive! A 3’ tree would have been far more practical, but still offer my love for decorating trees.

I have some friends who have kindly provided/shared with me some of the things they’ve done to overcome their tree space challenges.

1: The DIY Tree

My friend Morgan says: “Each of the top smaller pieces are on their own and the longer bottom lengths are cut in half so they’re each 2 pieces.” She followed up to mention her boards are comprised of cardboard, cork, batting and then felt. As of right now they’re tied together and hung with a string in the back, however she’s looking at finding a better hanging solution. She puts a little shout-out on Facebook to her friends, who collectively (over the years) make her decorations for her tree. It’s a great solution for conserving her space, while also creating a personal touch to her space.

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2: Au Natural

I really love this look; my friend Jessie was inspired from something she saw on Pinterest. She actually had her dog find the sticks, “I used a pocket knife to debark and make them the right length. I used walnuts to polish them.” Which is a great personal touch. She adds lights and a few simple colour themed decorations to it to help keep it simple, but still stunning.

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3: Simple Tinsel

This was a fun and very simple artistic way of giving that look of a tree, just up on the wall! My friend Meagan here used tinsel by itself. Please be careful with tinsel if you have pets, it can be very harmful if swallowed. That said, it’s a fun way to create texture in a very simple way! There are many ways to put a creative spin to this, or if you do not like tinsel, you could use other variants of garland, or purely just lights etc. The options are endless!

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These of course are just a few of the very many choices out there in the world. Feel inspired and have fun!

Wishing everyone a very happy holidays from Nested Green.

Architecture in Business | Review: Shopify

Hi Everyone… Jenn here!

We’re big fans of businesses that innovate and create business for others, even better when there’s quality of life and morale among the employees. We’re doing a special blog post about a company called Shopify. If you haven’t heard of it we highly recommend you check out their website. In a nutshell, this business helps create e-commerce websites and takes a very minimal percentage from those company’s sales in compensation. Their process is easy and fantastic for those eager to jump into their business but have no idea where to begin selling.

So why mention Shopify? Well, my husband David works for a company who is building their new headquarters (100k square foot of office space), located in our National Capital. This past Monday I had the luxury of being invited to an open house for his work employee’s families before Shopify employees took occupancy only a few days later. I wish I could post the many photos I took (legality reasons…boo!), however their Twitter account as well as Linebox on Facebook (the Architect) has been posting sneak peeks of it. They have some very fun ideas and I love that each floor seems to have a relevant theme (ie: one floor looks like the great Canadian outdoors full of the most adorable bean bag bears as chairs and gorgeous hand scrapped log walls). David had told me that they [the CEO’s and Architect] had gone to Google headquarters, along with Amazon and few others to feel inspired for their new space.

I’ve seen/heard some complaints from other business owners in response to Shopify’s headquarters…things like: “I’ve been in business for 30 years, this seems so juvenile” (since Shopify will soon have a slide into a ball pit in their cafeteria!) and you know what? To each their own. The world of architecture and design is changing for businesses across the world. With technology developing every day, people have become dependent on it, and especially those from my generation and those to come. I know how to disconnect, but I can and often feel lost if I don’t have my phone with me. The other issue is because we sit on the computer for hours on end, we often need to get up and move around frequently to ease our minds. The world of productivity is changing! I know I’m more productive in short spurts, as I become easily distracted… or there are certain times of the days where I feel more motivated to work. Business’s like Shopify want good and hardworking employees. But they also want their best work. Creating things like open spaces, nooks and “telephone booths” (there are at least 3 everywhere you turn all with their own theme!) for privacy to make phone calls or plugging in in a non-traditional space. Shopify’s office space gives people the option of working at their own pace because they want the best results. They have a yoga studio, a massage room, lots of spaces to sit (quiet or communal), and food always available. They even have showers there! Makes you never want to leave… see what they’re doing?

So, if you’ve owned a business that’s remained unchanged for 30 years, chances are you have older employees who (most likely) don’t like this dramatic change! And that’s okay. Large tech businesses like Shopify, Google and Amazon are catering to the younger generation now and using everyday technology to enhance the overall experience so they keep their employees longer. We all know that if we’re happy, we’ll do our best work, and want to come into work – right? I’m sure Government offices could certainly take a hint or two! 😉

Long story short, business owners of all kinds should start evaluating what type of world we live in. People want to be healthy, people want to use the best of what technology has to offer, but we also want quality of life and to be happy with where we are. If we’re happy with our jobs, we’re happier to clients… and if clients are happy, then you’ve got a client for life! And they’ve got friends! Unfortunately, a lot of companies prefer to look at their bottom line, and they forget what valued employees look like. People who work in a company that aren’t happy with where they work, often won’t recommend others to become customers/shop/employees.

Learn from Shopify’s business (or Google even) and see the difference between their success, and yours.

Whoa Dude…. What Happened to My Light Bulb!? 2014 The Year of the Light Bulb

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As of January 1, 2014 the U.S. and Canada has ceased the manufacture and importation of incandescent light bulbs. Worried yet? If you are concerned about the upcoming bulb shortages you’d best stock up like it’s a zombie apocalypse because they’ll be going fast and furious. Panic not, the EU and Australia went through with this same ban back in 2009… so it can be done without total mayhem.

Dining room glass feature
Where would we be without the invention of the incandescent light bulb? Scholars argue that there were more than 22 scientist with patents throughout the world over from 1809 until 1879 when Thomas Edison and his wealthy backers (one being J.P. Morgan who owned General Electric and The Titanic) purchased the patent from two Canadian scientists that he improved upon for his now commercially successfully light bulb design. The incandescent light bulb has been evolving ever since but now will see it’s end of days and be dismissed to a shelf in a museum and memories past.
Commercial properties have been refitting their ceilings with fluorescent light fixtures as a cost saving measure since the late 1990’s. The LED bulbs at the time of this great switch-up were priced far out of economical sense for building owners. The new LED (light emitting diode) technology has overtaken the CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulb in new commercial building lighting design. Currently the LED light is only slightly more energy efficient than the CFL for the same amount of light but the LED light also can be dimmed and tinted other colours, as well, the next generation of technologies promises to better the efficiency. Health issues such as seizures and the special disposal of CFL bulbs, since they contain toxic mercury, will see the end eventually of the CFL bulb too. The research into commercial lighting has lit the way for a future of LED lighting in our homes at a reasonable price.

Mud room and Powder room light fixture
Now I’m sure you are smart and understand our governments’ legislation of light bulbs is motivated by reducing energy consumption… we’ll just stick with that premise (see “Research” link at the end for more info if you suspect otherwise). Big retailers such as IKEA, Home Depot and Walmart are on top of the low priced LED bulbs sales… so we should not have to be too worried about finding an affordable bulb for our existing light fixtures. IKEA has moved to only selling light fixtures that use LED technology, so that’s a huge statement of where they think the future of lighting is heading.
A good cost saving strategy is to stock up on incandescent bulbs to avoid the cost of new technologies… then hold on until the competition heats up for the newest and cheapest LED bulbs to come out of the giant retailers … the fight is on for your light bulb dollars. Don’t be tempted by the reduced cost of CFL bulbs either. The environmental impact of even the smallest amounts of mercury that is used in these bulbs is astronomical when the shear number of bulbs that are used in North America are added up. Those bulbs will all die one day and must go somewhere. As with most waste in our countries, not all of it that should be handled with special care make it to the proper facilities and end up in regular waste dumps where the toxins will eventually leak into our precious ground water.

Living room light fixture and custom drapery
If money is tight coming out of your pocket… stretch it a little and stock up on the inexpensive incandescent bulbs to hold you over… invest a little for a few LED bulbs for high use spaces like kitchens… or that lamp you never shut off for “security” reasons… mom. Spend some to save some is the name of the game here. The trendy “Industrial Style” is glorifying the incandescent light bulb in one last hurr-ahh… before they are dismissed from the store shelves as the cause of over consumption of electricity… what’s next? Yes, your oven could be next… or perhaps your refrigerator?? Remember… when in doubt, turn it out … or just light a candle instead!!

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Walmart:
http://inhabitat.com/walmart-launches-line-of-10-led-bulbs/

Canada ban 2014 – Government unprepared for mercury waste from increased use of CFLs:
http://digitaljournal.com/article/341813
http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/in-line-with-u-s-ottawa-to-allow-sales-of-less-efficient-light-bulbs-1.1484749
http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/incandescent-light-bulb-ban-starts-jan-1-2014-1.2462888
Canada govt FAQ for light bulbs
http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/regulations-codes-standards/7281
Ikea news:
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-10-01/ikea-plans-to-sell-only-led-lights-worldwide-to-cut-emissions
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-01/ikea-plans-to-sell-only-led-lights-worldwide-to-cut-emissions.html
http://jamesbedell.com/blog/2013/8/22/ikea-is-going-all-led-heres-what-that-means-for-the-lighting-industry
Research:
http://freedomlightbulb.blogspot.ca/