Springtime is often associated with lush, green, living things – but winter? Not so much. If the snow and ice leaves you longing for a taste of spring, indoor plants are a great way to bring some of that fresh outdoor feeling inside. And plants are not only aesthetic. Many common species (Pothos, Ivy, Chinese Evergreen and Ficus, to name a few), have also been found to filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs).*
Inspired to invite more plants into your home? Here are five ideas to get you started.
1. Grace a room with ferns
Ferns come in many shapes and sizes, and their rich, leafy fronds can really help bring a space to life. Ferns are also pretty low maintenance: just keep them damp (they love to be misted) and in indirect light. When choosing a fern, remember that anything you see hanging can easily be relocated to a standing pot, if you prefer.
2. Bring plants to the table
A colorful house plant is a lovely stand-in for a dining room table centerpiece. Plants will last much longer than fresh-cut flowers, and a species like this red Anthurium is simply perfect for Valentine’s Day!
3. Create a live display
Make a striking decorative statement with a selection of smaller house plants, mixing together both the plant types and the pots they are in. This arrangement of mini succulents would be great for a windowsill, since these they enjoy direct light and actually prefer to dry out between waterings.
4. Combine and conquer
For an instant wow-factor, you can re-pot several smaller plants into one larger planter. Dracaena is an excellent species to use with this approach; look for dense plants with glossy foliage.
5. Take advantage of steam heat
The humidity in your bathroom might not be great for your electronics, but many of your plants love it. Chinese Evergreens, for example, are a hearty house plant that need some warmth to thrive – so you’ll be doing your plants a favor every time to turn on the shower to heat things up.
Creating a reason to reminisce for you and your guests
When you think back upon your childhood, you probably have fond memories of visiting a place where time seemed to stand still. Maybe it was your grandma’s house, or a vacation spot to which your family returned year after year. If you live on Cape Cod, you may just be that favorite family member that frequently plays host to vacationing loved ones.
Even though the face of modern leisure activity has changed (and is preserved on an iPhone and uploaded to Instagram!), it’s never too late to recreate a feeling of nostalgia. For a small investment, you can make a big hit on the joy-o-meter by stocking a few classic games and treats for your guests to enjoy, making each visit one more reason to cherish their time here.
GOOD OLD FASHIONED FAMILY FUN: Games and more
Marbles: Talk about a game with history: it is believed that cavemen and women played the first crude game of marbles, using small pebbles or balls of natural clay. Today, marbles is certainly thriving (there’s been a National Marbles Tournament every year since 1922), and it’s still an old fashioned game with a simple premise. Taking turns with other player(s), the object is to shoot your marble from outside of a circle into any of the marbles inside the ring. The marbles you’ve knocked out of the circle are yours, and whoever has the most marbles wins. Now the phrase “Don’t lose your marbles” makes more sense!
Chinese Checkers: Another take on marbles is Chinese Checkers. Here, you try to move all of your marbles to the other side of the board by jumping as far as you can. Chinese Checkers is based on a similar game called Halma (Greek for “jump”), invented by Dr. George Howard Monks, an American professor from Boston. And despite the name, the game was actually invented in Germany, not China; as the story goes, it was dubbed “Chinese Checkers” to sound more exotic. It worked, and soon became one of just a few games with widespread international appeal.
Rook: Around since 1906, Rook is a true classic: a spirited card game of bidding, trumping, and trick-taking. It’s a game that both young and old players can enjoy together and is usually played as a partner bidding game (it has some similarities to Spades or Pinochle). The concept is somewhat simple, but it also takes skill, strategy, and a bit of good luck.
“Retro” Games: Having easy, pick-up games like the “Magic 8 Ball” and a Rubik’s Cube around the house are always fun. Not only do they bring us back in time, they may answer burning questions like “Does he love me?” with an “It is decidedly so.”
Jigsaw Puzzles: Puzzles are a wonderful way to connect (pun intended) and unplug at the same time. Another pastime with a long history, the jigsaw puzzle was invented in 1767 by John Spilsbury, an engraver and mapmaker. As such, the first jigsaw puzzle was a map of the world; educators used Spilsbury’s first generation of puzzles to teach geography. As they evolved, puzzles became more than a way to exercise the mind, they became a way to relax.
There are as many types of puzzles as there is time to do them, but if you’re going for an old fashioned feel, there are plenty of puzzles featuring images of classic television, 50’s and 60’s household products and food items that will inspire you to stroll down memory lane as you piece them together.
Trains & Cars: Regardless of your age, building train or race tracks and making some locomotion is always fun. From simple setups to elaborate “loop-de-loops,” this classic hobby will inspire the family to enjoy time building together.
Lionel trains and hobbies have been around for more than 100 years, and their story is a pursuit of both incredible change and family bonding. Founder Joshua Lionel Cowen was born just before the first electric light, yet he grew up with real trains and lived through amazing advances in their technology and sophistication. His first toy train led to what the company describes as a “sacred mission”, as Cowen would spend a lifetime stoking America’s imagination with the romance of the rails. Up until the 60’s, Lionel train sets were a cultural icon (especially at Christmastime), but then their popularity fizzled for a while, falling somewhere in between the generation gap of the time. Today, America is renewing its relationship with the railroads, and having some trains and tracks to play with at home can be part of the magic.
Toy race cars are another play vehicle with a great history. Matchbox was introduced in the 1950’s. They were names as such for their packaging: the original die-cast cars were housed in a cardboard box that resembled an actual match box. This vintage packaging phased out as other companies began to use the plastic and cardboard “blister packs,” but the box style packaging was re-introduced for the collectors’ market in recent years.
SOMETHING TO SNACK ON: Classic Candy, Gum & Real Soda
How fun to reach into the snack cabinet (or drawer, or closet, or wherever you keep those goodies) and find a treasure trove of treats from days gone by. Packs of Teaberry, Clove or Black Jack gum, or wrapped candies like Chuckles and Necco wafers…happy days!
For some liquid refreshment, there’s nothing quite like old fashioned soda. Sure, there’s the requisite dose of sugar, but no synthetics and none of that evil high fructose corn syrup. The labels alone make you smile, and the flavors are divine. Choose from the brands and flavors you remember fondly, including root beer, (a.k.a. birch beer, sarsaparilla), ginger ales, cream sodas, colas, and fruity sodas like cherry, lemon lime, grape and more…all in traditional glass bottles.
The takeaway? Good old fashioned family fun is still in style. Come grab some nostalgia at Snow’s and see how easy it is to make them smile with simplicity.
Tax-free is great, but quality and history go a long way, too.
Massachusetts’ first tax holiday was in 2004, and every year since then (except 2009), it’s been both eagerly anticipated and approved at the eleventh hour. Well, 2013 is no different: the official tax free shopping days for the Bay State are this Saturday, August 10th and Sunday, August 11th.
In a nutshell, shoppers can expect to save the 6.25% state sales tax on items purchased for personal use that cost $2,500 or less. So this weekend, many of us will give a second thought to some of those larger purchases where the normally assessed saes tax can really add up. For example, a $1,000 purchase is actually $1, 062.50 the other 363 days of the year, so why not get while the gettin’ is good?
During tax free weekend at Snow’s, we see a good number of our customers considering gas grills and outdoor furniture: two product categories that deliver considerable savings without the sales tax. That being said, money spent is money spent. Especially with bigger ticket items, there’s no sense in buying just to save the tax; we all hope to make a sound investment at any price. While we carry many different models and brands of grills and outdoor furniture (especially in the furniture category), there are two companies that have a great story to tell – and their products will give you far more joy beyond the 6.25% savings.
As a family business for more than 125 years, we have a soft spot for companies that have also stood the test of time. Weber (grills) and Telescope (outdoor furniture) are two such companies, and if you’re considering a substantial purchase this tax holiday weekend, you might want to know more about these two top-notch businesses that have been around the block more than a few times.
Weber: The Grill Masters
Weber (officially Weber-Stephen Products LLC) was first incorporated in 1893; their first kettle grill was manufactured in 1952. Today, they have the distinction of being known as the world’s premier manufacturer of charcoal, gas and electric grills, but their beginnings were quite simple. Almost 60 years ago, George Stephen set out to build a better grill after becoming frustrated with the uneven and uncontrollable flame of open brazier grilling at home. At the time he was working for Weber Brothers Metal Works, and ingeniously cut a metal buoy in half and fashioned a dome shaped grill with a rounded lid—and the classic original Weber kettle grill was born. His invention quickly gained a loyal audience, and ultimately became a prominent symbol of Americana.
In the late 1950s, Stephen bought out the Weber Bros. factory and became the sole owner, devoting all his professional time to manufacturing and selling the Weber kettle. In the 1960s and 1970s, Weber’s reputation grew beyond the Midwest as it became a nationally known brand with distribution in retail stores throughout the country.
Since then, Weber has introduced a revolutionary line of gas grills—the Genesis grill (offering precise heat control without flare-ups), and the Weber “Q” portable gas grill line (a streamlined, almost futuristic design, combined with its powerful grilling wallop). In 2007, the company unveiled the largest and most ambitious new product launch in its 54-year history by offering 14 new gas grills. While the superior Weber
cooking system remained intact, the company introduced new aesthetic designs that were completely re-imagined from the wheels up with all stainless-steel looks, stunning curves, sleek lines, and some grills in bright colors. The Weber brand showcased entirely new models—four in its Summit and eight in its Genesis lines—and introduced a new line, the Spirit, with two new grills.
A few years later seven new grills were introduced, including a new electric grill for consumers who have charcoal or gas restrictions (Weber Q140), a larger version of its popular Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker smoker, and several enhancements to their entry level of grills, offering luxury elements and more features at an affordable price.
And even though Weber is clearly a company with a rich history, they have their finger on the pulse of modern technology. Weber’s free app for iPhone and iPod touch gives users instant access to grill features, grilling classes and more.
Telescope: Outdoor Furniture Pioneers
Telescope Casual Furniture has been producing quality, outdoor patio furniture in the USA since 1903. They are a family owned and operated business with a product line that includes wicker, aluminum, cast aluminum and resin furniture. Their claim to fame is the six unique collections made with their proprietary material called Marine Grade Polymer (MGP). MGP furniture is made with a durable material that will not swell, rot, splinter, warp, fade or chemically break down when exposed to humidity, water or sunlight. The material is 100% recyclable and environmentally friendly.
But back to the beginning. It all started in New York City, when the Telescope Cot Bed & Novelty Company started manufacturing cots and campstools with “telescoping” legs that gave the fledgling company its unique name. Now, 110 years later, Telescope makes beautiful furniture collections that look decidedly different than when they first started the company. Telescope also developed the “sling rail” that just about every manufacturer uses today. The sling rail allows the sling – or fabric – stretched across a chair to be replaced by the consumer without any special tools.
In addition to the Manhattan factory, Telescope’s sawmills were located in Pennsylvania, and later in the countryside of Granville, New York. Granville not only offered acres of woodlands, but also hard working laborers and railroads to support the new facility. Eventually the entire operation moved to Granville and Telescope embarked on a transformation that would eventually establish the company as a leader in casual furniture.
To evolve with an expanding product line, the Granville plant has continually made renovations to the nearly one-million square foot facility along with concentrated efforts in research, development, engineering and unique manufacturing processes. Telescope has always been self sufficient, allowing them to remain competitive in today’s market by responding quickly and finding innovative methods for manufacturing. For over 100 years Telescope has remained a remarkably successful family owned business currently managed by the fourth and fifth generation (not unlike Snow’sHome and Garden!). Much of Telescope’s success is owed to the talented and skilled work force that takes pride in their craftsmanship, and the professional sales force who work tirelessly to ensure every customer’s expectations are exceeded. Telescope’s goals are to focus on providing the highest levels of quality, design, comfort, selection and fast and consistent Delivery. None of these characteristics are easy to deliver, but they know that they are critically important.
So when considering a sizable purchase for your home this tax holiday weekend, it’s about much more than the 6.25% savings. If you’re looking for a new or upgraded grill outdoor furniture, you can feel good about going to Snow’s and making a smart investment in the brands that have been here to stay.
You’ve created a beautiful garden and outdoor living area in your backyard and you can’t wait to start spending time and enjoying entertaining outside. Only one thing is stopping you….your yard has turned into a mosquito theme park and you and your family are their main attraction! Understanding a bit about mosquito behavior can help avoid calling unecessary attention to yourself.