Guest blogger: Sean Henry
Editors note: Sean Henry and Liz Francese are our front line, crackerjack, Vermont-made furniture sales people. If you’ve purchased from us before you’ve probably talked to them on the phone (and you’ve definitely received emails from them) so you’ll totally “get” Sean’s tongue-in-cheek essay on how people and cherry wood change over time. If not, I guess you’ll just have to visit us at Stonehurst and see for yourself.
Let me explain something. When Liz and I were youngsters, we were adorable. No seriously, we were absolutely adorable. We were cute, blond, loveable, patriotic (me) and verbally expressive (Liz). As I am sure you can see from the pictures we were the kind of kids that parents would love to pull pictures out of their wallets to show off to all their friends. But as you can also see, things change. Well, maybe not all things change (this is where I tell you to look at both of the pictures of my favorite co-worker and see if you can find the similarities between the two pics).
Okay, so now that I have that part out of the way… The one thing I wanted to point out — and yes I am finally getting to the point — is that we both used to be blond or perhaps I should say dirty blond. We both had a nice, light head of hair and over time it has become a darker shade of brown. You may say to yourself, “what does any of this have to do with Cherry wood furniture?” Well let me tell you.
Natural Cherry wood is a lot like Liz and I. When it first arrives, it will be a light, almost dirty blond color. The light color of new Natural Cherry wood may not be what you expect to see after looking at all the beautiful images of cherry wood furniture on our website. Don’t worry, this will change. Over time, Cherry wood darkens or “ripens” as it ages and as it is exposed to light. As the Natural Cherry ripens, you will see the beauty of the wood and all its amazing characteristics come through. You will start to see a noticeable change after just a few months. After six months to a year it will have that rich, ripe auburn color. After that the color of the Cherry wood will change more gradually. You can see the difference in the pictures above.
One last thing I want to point out before I stop writing this long-winded blog (I am new at this). You have probably noticed my baby picture with the American flag and my very American red white and blue sailor suit. I thought it would be a good reminder to everyone that our Memorial Day Sale is coming up soon. So it might be the perfect time for some change and the perfect time to think about how our Vermont-Made, Handcrafted, ever-changing, beautiful, Natural Cherry wood furniture will look in your home!
Wishing all of the mothers in our lives a very Happy Mother’s Day! Take time to relax and enjoy the special people in your life today. No work. All play. Enjoy!
Monday, people across the globe were doing good deeds to help our planet and celebrate nature. Here at Vermont Woods Studios, every day is spent helping our planet (we are the top retailer for locally sourced, sustainably produced furniture, after all) so we took some time out of the day to donate blood at the Vermont Advent Christian Home.
While Peggy has donated before, this would be my first blood donation experience. Being a first time donor, I was a little bit nervous going into it. I had always wanted to donate before, but I am kind of a wimp when it comes to pain so I have always talked myself out of it. But after the events during the Boston Marathon last week, a city near and dear to my heart, I knew that this was a fear I had to get over.
Looking back now, I have to say I kind of enjoyed it! We decided to walk over, since it was only a five minute walk from the office. After a little bit of paperwork and a quick check-up, I was in the chair, ready to donate. The volunteers and American Red Cross workers were very helpful and talked me through every step of the process and answered all of my questions, which helped to ease my mind. The actual donation only took about 10 minutes and it was not as painful as I was expecting it to be. My other fear was fainting after I gave blood (I’ve never fainted before, but there’s a first time for everything!). But after drinking some juice and enjoying some homemade baked goods, I felt fine and was ready to head back to work. For anyone nervous about signing up for their first time blood donation, you have nothing to worry about! It was easy, fun and you’ll feel great about making a difference!
It is a great feeling being able to help those in need. At Vermont Woods Studios, part of our mission is to be an active part of our community and participate in local service projects. I am so lucky to work for a company that is willing to support the causes that not only matter to our mission, but ones that matter to me as an employee. When I brought up to Peggy that I was interested in the blood drive, she, Kendall and Liz all signed up with me. Now who wouldn’t want to buy furniture from people like that?
Bluebird Nesting Boxes Installed, Who Will Move in First?
Back in March I wrote a blog post about our Bluebird nesting box project. Since our new Stonehurst property had the right environment (open grassy fields) for nesting Bluebirds and we had some extra lumber the Green Team went into action. It was a tough winter so it took a bit this year for the snow to finally melt away so we could complete the final phase of our project. Plus that’s about the time Bluebirds return to these parts. But what we really needed was some thawed ground. These nest boxes need to go out in the open field which necessitated driving metal mounting posts a few feet deep into the ground. Bluebirds forage on open grassy ground and we were able to get 4 boxes in. (Bluebirds prefer some space between their nests)
For those of you who may not have heard, Stonehurst is going to be the home of our new Vermont made furniture showroom. Carpenters, plumbers, electricians and painters have been very busy since January remodeling this old farmhouse. According to the latest project schedule we should be able to begin the move in sometime mid May. Everyone here sure is eager to move into our new home! But I suspect the Bluebirds should discover these recently installed nest boxes any day now and will probably be moved and settled in before we do!
In the meantime, I will go up to Stonehurst every few days to check the nest boxes and look for signs of move in. (Bluebirds use grass for a nesting material) While I am up there I will check on our construction team to see when our new nest will be ready. Stay tuned for future blogs to see what our nest box project yields.
In Vermont, the word “local” is in our DNA. We eat local foods, support local stores, many of us opt for “staycations” to keep money in our local economies. Sometimes, however, “local” isn’t gentle on your wallet. But, there’s a new company in the Green Mountain State that is fusing the “buy local” attitude with a budget.
Localvore Today is similar to Groupon and Living Social in the sense that they are a daily deal company. What separates them from those larger companies is the local edge. They are a Vermont based company with an office at the Burlington water front, and the money from this company never leaves the state. They make a deal with local vendors to sell discounted gift certificates, services, ect. where Localvore Today earns some money off the sales. Vermont residents, in turn, buy these discounted ticket items, getting them to do something, go somewhere, or eat something local. You will never see a discount on this website for a conglomerate chain store or restaurant. Localvore Today is saving Vermonters money, but allowing them to still support the local economy. Plus, they donate 10 cents to Hunger Free Vermont for every subscriber they get. Pretty cool, huh?
We’re currently working with Dan White and Amanda Knowlton at Localvore Today to find ways to collaborate and support each other. It’s always refreshing to work with like-minded companies that are mission driven!
If you’re familiar with our company, the name Renfrew may ring a bell, because of our Renfrew Shaker Furniture Collection. But, do you know the history behind the collection name? We like to name some of our collections after Vermont conservation heroes, and Dr. Rosalind Renfrew, or as she likes to be called, Roz, is one of them. Roz is a dedicated wildlife biologist in Vermont, and her name has been popping up in the local news recently. She is the editor for the Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont, a comprehensive publication that came out this month.
This second edition publication has taken many years of research to complete. For ten years the Vermont Center for Eco Studies and a number of volunteers from all over the state surveyed the same land that was surveyed in 1985 when the first edition came out. The goal of this publication was to focus on population patterns, rather than the reasons for change. In addition, this atlas includes, “a guide to the biogeography of Vermont; and essays on change in habitats, climate, land use and their impact on Vermont’s bird communities over the past quarter century.” This comprehensive wildlife atlas is 576 pages! Inside you will find photographs, maps, charts and graphs.
The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont will be a great reference for hobby birders as well as conservationists. This large, extensive book is available for purchase through the publisher’s website for $75. There will be 150 of the books donated to libraries across Vermont, so that everyone can have access to the information.
To see an interview with Roz Renfrew, naturalist Bryan Pfeiffer, and Gov. Peter Shumlin, visit WCAX.
Recently my fellow office inhabitant, Sean Henry, began spear-heading our mission to obtain more customer photos or ‘real life’ images of our furniture. His unbroken concentration certainly lends much, sometimes unnecessary, dedication to his projects- so, as the more vocally inclined, I’ve taken it upon myself to help spread the word via VWS blog. This word is not just a want for more customer photos but the undying effort of our sales team to obtain these images.
Why customer photos? Well, the long and short of it is best told visually. This is a bedroom set:
And this is a bedroom set:
Which do you want more? And it isn’t even just the marketing power behind these inviting images but more the representational power of them. These handcrafted works of art are meant to please your eye and provide restful sleep or feed your family or hold your cable box- they’re meant for your home!
Fresh eyed and bushy tailed, Sean joined our crew only a few months ago, eager to make his mark and share his ideas (or “i-dears”, as he calls them). Though he’s tossed quite a few light bulbs around, it is really his re-kindling of the long forgotten ‘obtain customer photos’ mission that’s become his baby. Our white glove delivery crew might have barely made it out the door before the proud new furniture owner receives an email from Sean, adorned with this thoughtfully designed marquee:
So, if you’re a perspective buyer or just a handmade furniture fan- take a look at our customer photos album on Facebook or the Testimonials page on our website. If you already own a piece of Vermont Woods Studios furniture, well heck- we’d love to see it! Do it for Sean, at least.
Top o’ the morning to ya! Here’s to all you Irishmen who’ll be wearing green today and perhaps breaking some soda bread, corned beef and cabbage or better yet– a pint of Guinness. I miss celebrating St Patrick’s Day. Growing up in Plattsburgh NY, as a member of the O’Neil family (I think I was named after the old Irish song: Peggy O’Neil) and attending a small school known as “The Irish”, there was no shortage of celebrations on March 17th. In fact, they used to have to cancel classes at Plattsburgh State University on St Patrick’s Day because there was an unwritten rule that students had to be downtown at the Monopole or Goobers Ragtime Bar in time for 8am lessons on drinking green beer.
But that was a long time ago and although we’ll still manage to raise a pint of Guinness this year, the main theme of our St Patrick’s Day celebration at Vermont Woods Studios will be our green message of sustainability. Check out Kendall’s newly formatted environmental section of our website where you’ll find all sorts of fun facts about where your furniture comes from, how it’s made and why you would care about all that.
And if you’re looking to honor your favorite nature-loving Irishman on St Patrick’s Day, click on over to Defenders of Wildlife and make a symbolic adoption of someone green: a sea turtle, a red-eyed tree frog or a hummingbird would do the trick. St Patrick would be proud of you!
Who doesn’t love trees? As a purveyor of natural wood furniture, we are big tree lovers. Not surprisingly, forest conservation is a big part of our mission at Vermont Woods Studios. If we’re going to be providing solid wood furniture for generations into the future, we have to focus on forest conservation today.
This morning I was searching for a tree photo to help us show people how your furniture gets from the forest to your living room. I couldn’t believe how many spectacular tree photos are out there! It’s obvious we’re not the only tree fanatics on this planet.
Pinterest seems to be the keeper of some of the world’s favorite tree photos. The Pinterest “Trees” page contains boards on every tree topic you can think of, from “tree houses” to “roots”, “forests”, “tree life” and “tree tatoos”.
Then there’s another love afair with trees on a site called (pardon me) Tree Porn (somewhat akin to the website Kendall showed me called Food Porn– great food photos and recipes). 40 Nautrally Beautiful Photos of Trees is another web page showcasing amazing tree photos.
OK, now I have to get back to writing a post about how your furniture gets from the forest to your living room. But this was a fun digression.