Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Keep it green

From the confusion of attempting to gather all of your earthly belongings into easily transportable containers, to the dislocation of leaving the familiar in pursuit of the unknown, changing houses is easily recognized as one of life’s top ten stressors. The following tips will assist you in making an efficient and environmentally friendly move.

One of the most difficult things about relocating can be figuring out what to keep and what to throw away. I’m a big fan of clearing out superfluous belongings every so often, so even if you aren’t planning a move, these ideas can help you cleanse the proverbial palate in ways that will reduce waste and point you away from the dumpster:

Before I ever start to figure out more complex ways to get rid of belongings that I no longer have a place for, I make a round of phone calls to my friends to see if anyone wants to make dibs on anything.

For an excess of surplus clothing, furniture, and home goods, have a garage sale. The more merchandise that you offer in a home sale, the more customers you can draw in, so consider combining forces with friends or neighbors when you’re doing your planning. You may be surprised at how many folks are eager to join your efforts.

If you don't have the time or energy for that option, donate your things to a local women's shelter, Goodwill, or Salvation Army. You can find your local branches here. Many towns have recycling centers that will make sure your old belongings don't end up in a landfill. You can also try, an easy way to get in touch with people who are looking to find what you want to give.

For old electronics, try going here for information on places that will recycle your electronic waste.

If you have no leftover packing material laying around, you can contact Earth Friendly Moving, to rent durable boxes made of totally recycled materials, for a dollar per box, per week. They’ll drop them off at your house and pick them up when you’re through with them.

If you’re thinking about hiring a mover, check out this site for a list of moving companies that fuel with biodiesel.

To counterbalance the carbon footprint of your move, take a look at some of these websites:

  • Every (free) click at here removes 1 pound of carbon emissions.

  • lets you donate to compensate for your car, air travel, or home carbon emissions.

  • This site has a calculator that will estimate the range of your carbon footprint, and then offer you offset options that are of an appropriate size.

It's easy to get overwhelmed when you're dealing with projects of this magnitue alone, so take advantage of your support system by throwing a "packing party" for your friends. You supply the boxes, garbage bags and pizza, and everyone works together to accomplish the heavy lifting.

Links provided by

Monday, January 19, 2009

Artist Spotlight: Keith Lazelle

Keith has been one of my favorite photographers for years now. I have a piece of his in my home that was given to me by him and his fabulous wife/agent Jane Hall before I left Washington for college in Decatur, Georgia (near Jane’s old stomping grounds). It’s been lovingly toted to all of my various living spaces throughout the last eleven years, and is always hung in a place of honor.

There’s something about the way Keith frames his subject matter feels almost lyrical to me. I’m honestly searching for a way to express his art without falling into rapturous clichés concerning the majesty of the Olympic Peninsula. I’ve always been a firm believer in the inherent magic of the natural world, and Keith’s work visually summarizes so much of what I find stunning about our surroundings in the Pacific Northwest, that it’s incredibly difficult not to get overly verbose here. Maybe its best put like this: There is a lot (a LOT) of mass-market, ho-hum nature photography out there. It’s what I like to call “Doctor’s Office Art”, which to me is the visual equivalent of a supermarket book selection. It obviously sells, but its merit lies more in being noninvasive, ordinary and uncomplicated, than in actually evoking any sort of response from the viewer or reader. It’s a fairly pleasant distraction, at best. Maybe that’s why so many professional photographers have turned to more modern or industrial subject matter over the last few decades – it’s easier to claim “art” when you’re reimagining a highway overpass, or something that no one supposes to be beautiful, and attempting to show us another side of it. Keith, on the other hand, concentrates on themes that no one would ever dispute the loveliness of, but he has the unique ability to capture them in ways that are anything but ordinary in their simplicity. He encapsulates the shifting qualities of nature and reveals them in ways that remind us of why we thought they were beautiful in the first place.

Keith's work has been featured by Nature Conservancy, Seattle Opera, Audubon, Eddie Bower, University of Puget Sound, Alaska Airlines Magazine, Merrill Lynch, Microsoft and Outside Magazine, to name a very few. Visit his website here.

All photos by Keith Lazelle

Monday, January 12, 2009

Take a deep breath...

The Sylvia Beach Hotel is far and away my favorite Pacific Northwest haven when I’m in need of a respite from fast-paces and rat-races. The hotel sits on a 45 foot bluff directly above Nye beach in Newport, Oregon (about a two and a half hour drive from Portland), and overlooks an especially picturesque coastal panorama, which includes the state’s tallest lighthouse at Yaquina Head.

The owner, Portland resident Goody Cable, says that time seems to slow there. And it does. I often don’t realize how quickly I’ve been moving, until I allow myself to go to a place like this, where I’m able to take a few steps back and breathe for a while. Sylvia Beach is designed as a quintessential readers retreat, so make sure to bring a book (or stop by another one of my favorites, the Cannon Beach Book Company, on your drive there to pick up some new material). There are two public phones available, but other than that, modern technology is kept at a minimum. There are no televisions, no radios and no wi-fi connections in any of the rooms. If you want to experience the hotel the in the way it was intended, I would suggest leaving the laptop at home and keeping the cell turned off.

From a designer’s perspective, the rooms are both whimsical and highly imaginative. Each one is unique, with name and décor based on a specific novelist or poet. There are three price ranges available, starting with “Novels”, four rooms which are all fabulous in their own right, but are the only options that don’t offer an ocean view. Thirteen “Best Sellers” compose the next tier of rooms. You can finish up your manuscript at the functional desk furnished in Hemingway, relax in the calming ambiance of Jane Austen, celebrate your inner child with Dr. Seuss, or channel Blanche Dubois in gauzy Tennessee Williams. If you’re feeling melancholic or macabre, check out the Edgar Allen Poe themed boudoir, complete with black wallpaper, a pendulum hanging over the curtained bed, and a stuffed raven on the mantle. To really treat yourself though, try one of the “Classics”. These three rooms are the largest the hotel offers, and are all equipped with fireplaces and private oceanfront decks. Mark Twain is a Southern-style, masculine retreat; Agatha Christie is plush and inviting (and has clues from her many novels hidden throughout the room). Colette (which was the nom de plume of French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette) is probably the most romantic retreat that Silvia Beach offers, based on French provincial style, with lush tulle draping the walls and an idyllic window chaise facing the water. The last time I stayed there, my roommate was a fuzzy little fellow, aptly named Dickens, who showed up at my door five minutes after I arrived and sat in my lap for three days while I read. I found it particularly endearing because of Colette’s known fondness for cats, which is a predilection included in the room decor (it should be noted, that although there are a number of “regulars” of the feline persuasion who occasionally stroll through the lobby and gift shop, this isn’t, strictly speaking, a pet-friendly hotel). All of the rooms furnish some – if not all – of the namesake author’s works, as well as journals overflowing with the ruminations of past guests and blank pages for you to fill, if you so choose.

Prices range from $70 to $193 a night for double occupancy (single is $10 less), which is about the best deal you’ll find for a beachfront hotel anywhere along the Oregon Coast, even in places like the Ramada and Red Lion. They also have a hostel-style bunk room with sleeping space for eight on the top floor, which (last I was there) was $35 a night to stay in, and included the gourmet breakfast. These beds aren’t advertised on the website, and, as far as I know, are on a first come, first serve basis. They’re such a well-kept secret that your chances are probably pretty good on finding space, depending on how many people you’re travelling with. Although there’s no marked age limit in their policies, the management does suggest that the hotel isn’t an appropriate place for very young children, as most of the guests are there to relax and enjoy an uncommonly quiet vacation.

Sharing the third floor with the bunk room is a windowed, oceanfront library, complete with the requisite squishy arm chairs, floor cushions and jigsaw puzzles. Tea, coffee, cider and cocoa are always available, and hot spiced wine is served each night at 10:00.

The restaurant, Table of Contents, is on the bottom floor, right on the bluff. Breakfast is included in your room price and is truly superb, with a rotating menu of hot dishes (think savory crepes, apricot pancakes and Italian frittatas) and a large selection of fruits, breads, pastries and hot and cold beverages. Their dinners are served in courses around tables of eight and are a fusion of all the best parts of Pacific Northwest cuisine. The menu changes nightly, so you never quite know what to expect, but trust me, it’s always fantastic. If you happen to be passing through the area, but don’t have the time to stay awhile, the restaurant is open to the public as well. Dinner isn’t included in the room price as a guest, but in my opinion is well worth the added expense.

If you live in or happen to be visiting Portland, Goody Cable also owns the Rimsky-Korsakoffee House, a dessert restaurant in an old Victorian on SE 12th and Alder. Stop by sometime to sip the excellent espresso and listen to the live classical music they offer there nightly.

Happy reading.

(photos by Lashier)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Clean it up!

For some reason, I always tend to do the bulk of my spring cleaning during the winter months. It may have to do with the desire to get myself out of doors and into my garden as soon as the thaw hits, or it may be related to breaking the cycle of winter doldrums by involving myself in some productive home-related action. Regardless, there are a few things that I do to simplify and streamline my organization projects, both at home and with my clients. Here are a couple of tips, for those of you who want to get a head start on your seasonal purge:

Try to work on one room or task at a time, as any more than that can get overwhelming, and may encourage you to leave the project unfinished. First, categorize your belongings into five groups:

· Indispensible - All the things are part of your ever day routine, (like car keys).
· Enjoyable - Normally decorative pieces, this category would also include things like photographs and jewelry.
· Borrowed - Things on loan from friends, family or work.
· Irritating - Junk mail, laundry, old magazines, et cetera
· Junk - Things that are unarguably garbage. I always start this process with both trash and recycling bags on-hand, so that the “junk” pile can be immediately disposed of.

Once you’ve categorized your belongings, you’re ready to start the next steps:

· Throw away, recycle or compost the junk piles.
· Deal with the irritating stuff. Recycle the junk mail, wash the laundry, and file any papers that you might need in the future. If you don’t have a filing system set up, buy some manila envelopes, and group papers in them by category. Then box them up, or put them in a drawer or on a shelf—- just make sure that they’re out of your space. This may be the longest part of the process, but you’ll feel immeasurably better when you get it done.
· Return borrowed and rented items, and donate unwanted items to a local charity. Check out for a great place to pass on unwanted possessions.
· Your indispensible items need to be easily accessible. The best way of dealing with this issue is to create a system that you stick to. Keys can go on a hook by your entryway, remote controls in a basket on the coffee table and laundry in a hamper near your washing machine. You may want to make a list to post on your refrigerator of items that you’ve borrowed from or lent to friends.
· Your favorite things deserve special places where they can go. Put your jewelry in a padded box, buy inexpensive frames for cherished photographs, and arrange your art and treasured belongings in places where you and your guests will see and enjoy them.

For down and dirty scrubbing, try all natural Biokleen or Mrs. Meyers products.

And if you’re in the Portland area and need a little assistance with your environmentally friendly cleaning regime, be sure to give Jessica at Brighter Days House Cleaning Services a call. You can visit their website here.


Welcome to the Thrive blog!

I’m aiming for this page to be an idea and inspiration center for friends, clients and intrepid web travelers who are looking for some thoughts on design, creation and sustainable living practices. I plan on including tips for home décor and garden design, favorite local businesses in the greater Portland area and beyond, Pacific Northwest travel suggestions, ideas for “greening up” your everyday life, information on organic cooking and buying locally, and links to all of my favorite national (and perhaps international) artists, designers and entrepreneurs . I’m also fortunate enough to have an incredible network of very talented folks who I’m lucky enough to call friends and clients – I plan on highlighting their work as well, in all its many facets. As with all creative endeavors, I’m sure that this platform will transform over time. Suggestions are always welcome.

Thank you for joining me!