She is a CEO who brakes for salamanders, has bottle-fed rescued squirrels and spent her vacation building furniture for a rural school in Costa Rica. She believes in the future and in the people who will build it. A former distance-learning professor at Tulane University with a master’s in environmental health & safety, she turned an interest in forest conservation and endangered species into a growing, local business. She delivers rainforest statistics at breakneck speed, but knows how to slow down and appreciate the beauty of a newly finished piece of heirloom furniture.
What’s on your menu for Easter dinner? Have you ever thought about where that food comes from? Vermont, being an agricultural state filled with innovative farmers, has become the leader in the locavore and “farm to plate” movements. The idea is to source your food close to home. For me personally the main advantage of buying locally is knowing that my food was sustainably grown without the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers that harm the environment. But there are lots of other advantages to the eating local food such as:
Local food is fresher. It’s picked when ripe (not when convenient for cross-country trucking) so it tastes better and it’s more nutritious
Local food supports local farmers. Here in Vermont we’re struggling to make sure our landscape stays rural and pastoral so supporting farms and farm families is critical
Local food supports the local economy and helps create jobs and sustainable communities
Farmer’s Markets, CSAs and The Wild Carrot Farm
In Vermont, most grocery stores have a decent selection of local foods but the real action is at our farmer’s markets and our CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). Last week Annette asked Ken and me to split a share of locally grown food from the Wild Carrot Farm, a local CSA in Brattleboro, VT. After meeting with Jesse Kayan who operates the farm we were hooked and decided to give it a try. For about $500 we get a generous share of freshly picked vegetables each week throughout the entire harvest season- plus a variety of PYO (pick your own) flowers and veggies. If you’d like to learn more about buying a share, give Jesse a call. CSAs have a limited number of shares they can sell each year, depending on the size of their farms. Like other CSAs in our area, the Wild Carrot Farm will be sold out soon.
How About Having Easter Dinner in Vermont– at a Country Inn?
If you don’t have time to gather local foods together in time for Easter- treat yourself and your family to dinner out. People come from all over New England to enjoy Easter dinner at our many farm to plate restaurants. This photo is from the restaurant at the Windham Hill Inn in Townshend, VT– one of the prettiest rural inns in the Green Mountains. Check out the Vermont Fresh Network to find the place that’s perfect for your family.
Get excited about Spring cleaning! It’s time to tear open the shutters and throw up the sash (as Clement Clarke Moore would say). Somehow inhaling all that fresh Spring air must get people thinking about re-organizing their living rooms because we always have a high demand for custom bookcases during this season.
Big Huge Bookcases with Glass Doors
Livin large? Then you need a huge bookcase to safely store your books, media, artwork and other valuables. The cases shown above are made in America (right here in Vermont) of real solid wood and finished with a hand-rubbed oil and wax. You can customize them online with your choice of hardwood and edge profile (straight edge for a mission furniture style or rounded as shown above). Or visit us at Stonehurst, our beautiful southern Vermont showroom for help with customization.
Shaker, Mission, Craftsman and Contemporary Bookcases
Shaker bookcases typically have a tapered leg. Mission style: straight legs. Craftsman and arts and crafts style legs vary in edge profile. Modern contemporary styles often have a straight kick-board between the legs. The tops of these bookcases have standard edge profiles consistent with the leg styles but tops can also be customized online, by phone or in the showroom.
Short, Tall, Glass Doors, Wooden Doors, No Doors…
What do you need to store in your new bookcase? Books, movies, CDs? Fragile collectibles? Artwork? Junk that you can’t bear to get rid of? Some of each? Depending on your needs you might want glass or wooden doors, or maybe doors on just the bottom half of the bookcase. Customize to your heart’s content! Our bookcases are all made to order (from natural hardwoods: cherry, walnut, maple or oak) and you can modify them to meet the needs and decor of your home.
Contemporary, Shaker, Mission, Craftsman, Mid Century Modern and transitional styles
Short, medium and tall sizes
Cherry, walnut, maple and oak hardwoods
Open ladder style or with sides and backs
Glass doors, no doors, wood doors, half-size doors
Standard dimensions or custom dimension
Over the years we’ve become the go-to-guys for real solid hardwood bookcases of all sorts. You name it – we’ve got it. And it’s all on sale for up to 20% off! So what kind of bookcase would make your Spring cleaning a snap?
When customers walk into our fine furniture showroom at Stonehurst they often comment about how much they enjoy being greeted by the natural fragrance of wood. That doesn’t happen in all furniture stores because wood furniture is usually sealed with a protective coating like lacquer or poly which keeps the fragrance inside. But an oil finish is porous, setting wood’s organic aroma free to permeate your space. And it smells wonderful! But there are certainly pros and cons to an oil finish so we try to make sure customers fully understand the differences before they make a purchase.
What We Love About an Oil Finish
Wood furniture with an oil finish develops a deep, rich color that cannot be obtained with other finishes that don’t penetrate the grain of the wood. Only oil brings out the depth of color and beauty of the grain that natural hardwoods are famous for. Over time, an oil finish will develop a rich, lustrous patina that’s beautiful to look at and super-smooth to touch. And a joy to smell! Another advantage is: if your oil finish gets scratched it can easily be sanded and re-oiled (you can do this yourself with a little 0000 steel wool – see our Furniture Care instructions).
An Oil Finish Requires More Care
than furniture with a poly or lacquer finish, but many people feel the resulting appearance is worth the effort. How often do you have to re-oil? Many furniture makers suggest this thumb rule: oil once a day for the first week, once a week for the first month, once a month for the first year and once a year thereafter. Quite honestly, most customers are just too busy for that, especially if they have a house full of furniture to oil! Some don’t touch their furniture for years, while others choose to oil it religiously. Obviously, the more you oil the stronger and more beautiful the finish, but we know many people who only oil their furniture when the wood starts to look dry and that seems to be just fine.
Another consideration with an oil finish is that it’s not as protective as poly or lacquer sealants. We recommend that you keep a bottle of oil and a 0000 steel wool pad (or equivalent synthetic sanding pad) handy so you can rub out water rings from drink glasses or smooth out the end grain of a wooden table top if it becomes rough due to variations in temperature and humidity. Here’s a downloadable pdf on caring for wood furniture with an oil finish that Liz created for you.
Comparison of Different Wood Furniture Finishes
Have a look at our Furniture Finishes and Furniture Care pages for additional information, tips and advice on how to choose the best finish for your wood furniture. Send us your questions on Facebook, give us a call or, better yet stop by Stonehurst to see, touch and smell the beauty of a hand-rubbed oil finish.
Come join us at the Salamander Soiree tonight, April 5th from 6-8:30pm at the River Garden on Main Street in Brattleboro VT. A number of animal lovers from Vermont Woods Studios will be attending the annual party sponsored by our friends at the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center BEEC. We’ll be helping to recruit and train crossing guards for this year’s annual amphibian migration. Why not join us?
Tom Tyning, author of the Stokes Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles will be speaking about his research projects on vernal pools, rare salamanders, endangered snakes, and spade foot toads. Tom is always lively, informative, and funny. Other festivities include: hors d’oeuvres, live music and the famous Salamander Crossing Guard Fashion Show. Bring your iphone or ipad and you can install BEEC’s new Salamander Crossing app. Best of all, it’s free!
For a little background on why a fine furniture company would be so dedicated to protecting frogs, toads and salamanders, here’s a look back at previous amphibian-related posts:
Ken and I founded Vermont Woods Studios fine furniture store almost nine years ago. As a woodworker, Ken’s interest was in earning a living by promoting the tradition of high quality Vermont made wood furniture. For me, the project was about forest conservation and my desire to help protect forest habitat and wildlife for future generations*. Over the years it’s been a challenge managing this yin-yang pair of objectives but I think we’ve been able to maintain a pretty good balance.
Stonehurst Opens Up New Opportunities for Forest Conservation
This year we have a chance to bring a whole new dimension to our forest conservation mission through our newly acquired property at Stonehurst. The farmhouse we purchased and renovated into a Vermont made furniture gallery sits on 100 wooded acres in the foothills of the Green Mountain National Forest. In the past our environmental mission was largely fulfilled by donating to like-minded non-profits**, but now we can also also partner with them by providing forest habitat for various conservation projects.
Below are a few conservation activities we’re supporting for 2014:
Woodlands for Wildlife – Vermont Coverts educates landowners in sound forest management practices and the principles of stewardship for the enhancement of wildlife. Ken and I are attending their 3-day seminar on forest and wildlife management this spring to learn how to improve wildlife habitat and provide better conditions for native deer, turkeys, moose, bear, birds, bob cats, chipmunks, squirrels and other species that may be living at Stonehurst.
MonarchWatch - When Kendall and Riley were in elementary school we used to capture monarch caterpillars, watch their metamorphosis and tag the butterflies before waving them off on their epic migration to Mexico every fall. But for the past several years I haven’t seen even a single monarch. So this year we’ll support Chip Taylor at MonarchWatch by planting butterfly gardens (including milkweed) and encouraging others to do the same.
Vermont Center for Eco Studies- VCE is a group of Vermont’s foremost conservation scientists who inspire citizen volunteers across Vermont and around the world. We’ve been supporting them for years and are excited about being able to use Stonehurst as a place to gather data for their many programs including:
Vernal pool mapping
VT reptile and amphibian atlas
VT breeding bird survey
Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center – BEEC’s annual Salamander Soiree is this Saturday April 5th from 6-8:30pm in Brattleboro at the River Garden on Main Street. We’ll be there to help recruit crossing guards for this year’s annual amphibian migration.
If you’re in our neighborhood and share similar interests, please stop by Stonehurst, give us a call or connect with us on Facebook. Let us know what you’re working on and how we can help. As the southern most corner of Vermont, Vernon can play a significant role in our state’s conservation efforts. Let’s make it happen!
* We are losing the worlds forests at a rate of > 1 acre/second. A major factor in deforestation is widespread illegal logging for timber that’s used to make cheap furniture sold by IKEA, Home Depot and other big-box stores. Our goal at Vermont Woods Studios is to help raise awareness about where your furniture comes from and persuade people to buy sustainable furniture made from legally harvested wood.
** The non-profits we’ve supported include the World Wildlife Fund WWF, The Nature Conservancy TNC, Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center BEEC, Vermont Center for Ecostudies VCE and others working to conserve forests and wildlife.