Gifts that Give Back

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One way to feel better about this crazy consumer season is to shop for gifts that help fund good works, either by supporting makers or by donating a portion of proceeds. Here is a round-up of round-ups about these great gift ideas:

•  Forbes – A Shopping Guide for the Socially Conscious

•  The Good Trade – Gifts that Give Back for Her and for Him

•  Huff Post Style – Sucheta Rawal: Holiday Gifts that Give Back

•  Los Angeles Times – 11 Gifts that Will Change the World

•  Refinery29 – Ethical Charitable Gift Ideas

•  Remodelista – Gift Guide 2015: Charitable Gifts

•  This Old House – 13 Gifts that Give Back

•  Today – Gifts that Give Back [Video]

And if you need a handy reminder about when to get these gifts out the door, check the guidelines from USPS, UPS, and FedEx.

Deck the Halls IV

Thanks to everyone who joined us for our fourth annual Wreath Making Party! We tried out TaborSpace for the first time, and being in a new location definitely added a few challenges—clippings and carpet are a tough combination—but it was great to see everyone. It’s amazing how well each and every wreath turns out. Mark your calendars now for December 3rd, 2016?

 

‘Smart’ Ideas for Your Home

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We first wrote about electrical wall sockets with built-in USB charging ports back in 2013, and the connected home market has only exploded since then. You’ve probably heard of Nest products or seen ads of a guy chatting with ‘Alexa’ on his new Amazon device. Recently, Netted picked a few favorites, including the latest version of the USB-friendly wall socket, and these are the gadgets that stood out:

  • Keen Home — a smart air vent? who knew!
  • SnapPower — in either USB or night-light configurations
  • Zuli — control whatever is plugged into the Zuli converter via the associated app (see also: WeMo Insight Switch)

If you need a little help understanding how to approach home automation, check out these posts from Smarthome, CNET and Time. There are online courses available for the home automation DIY-er, like this one from Udemy. And, lastly, don’t forget the security considerations when you install a system and when you leave one behind.

Will our homes soon be smarter than we are?!

P.S. In the latest PGE insert, we read about smart surge protectors that let you turn off groups of items or only send power to occupied outlets. Definitely something to check out.

11/17 Seminar on Portland House Styles

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Short notice for a Tuesday evening event, but we only just spotted the listing:

Naming the Portland Vernacular: Identifying Portland’s Most Common House Styles

Anyone that has spent time trying to classify Portland area houses within a specific architectural style has certainly encountered confusion and frustration. The fact is that thousands of the houses in our area are not readily identifiable using typical style conventions or are a composite of a variety of architectural elements.

Please join us as AHC Education Committee member and architectural historian Thomas Hubka describes the ways we can identify and name Portland’s most common houses according to not only their architectural details, but other physical characteristics, like floor plans. You’ll even earn about what is perhaps the most common house “style” in the city: the “Portland Bungalow,” With this new-found knowledge you’ll become a neighborhood expert, able to amaze your friends and family!

The seminar costs $20 for non-members and will be held at the Architectural Heritage Center (701 SE Grand Avenue, Portland, OR 97214). Visit the event page to register.

Learning About EMSWCD

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Did you know that the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District offers free workshops? Billed as for all skill levels, these workshops focus on topics like landscaping with native plants, water conservation, creative stormwater solutions, and chemical-free gardening techniques. Neighborhood Notes posted about an upcoming workshop on native plants, which has since filled, but it drew our attention to the full schedule, which currently runs through early December.

EMSWCD covers all of Multnomah County east of the Willamette, and their website is chock full of information, including a directory of local businesses that can help with conservation projects and a Manure Connection (!). You can also learn more about naturescaping, rain gardens, and native plants by listening to the Urban Lands Program Supervisor’s interview with Grow PDX.

How to Say Goodbye to Books

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This year, National Friends of Libraries Week falls on October 18–24, which makes this great month to clear out books for donation to Friends of the Multnomah County Library. But how do you decide which titles to part with and which to keep? A post from Root Simple describes a method of triage that may work…

The book was released to the universe if:

  • I had read it and absorbed the information
  • The library has a copy
  • It does not give me joy
  • I don’t think I’ll ever read it
  • My interests have changed
  • I read part but don’t think I’ll read the rest

I kept the book if:

  • It’s a volume I refer to for reference on a regular basis
  • It gives me joy
  • It’s especially beautiful as an object (only one or two books actually ended up in this category–I’m not a book collector)
  • I really intend to read it
  • I want to re-read it

Once you’ve freed up all that space, it’s time to… hit the Fall Used Book Sale?!

Checklist for Autumn

It’s been a while since we shared one of these handy Houzz checklists, but now that we’ve officially turned the wheel to fall, it seems like a good time. One added suggestion is to think about new windshield wipers for your car and also refill the wiper fluid reservoir. This week feels balmy, but we know the rains are coming!

 

Getting Started with Pinterest

In our last monthly letter, we promised a post about Pinterest but never published it. Whoops! 

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We recently wrote to our clients and friends about how to use Pinterest for home renovation or construction projects—because it’s a great way to discover, collect, and save information about fixtures, colors, furnishings, etc.—but we know that not everyone uses this social network. Here are a few how-tos for newbies: Continue reading