An Eco-Friendly Approach to Spring Cleaning

Spring is the perfect time for organizing and cleaning. When the first warm rays of sun hit our faces, our first instinct is to pack up our winter coats and pull out the spring cleaning essentials.

When cleaning for spring, it’s easy to forget about being eco-minded. So we decided to call in an expert for this one. Hildy Neumann of Organizing Strategies dishes all of her secret tips and tricks for Green Organization.

How can we incorporate Green Organizing into our spring cleaning this season?

Reduce:
Limit new things. If your goal is to slim down your belongings, ask yourself if you really need to buy replacements. If you must purchase, invest in fewer items of better quality.

Reuse:
Everything and anything! Storage containers are especially great to use in a different space. Or you can always give unwanted items new life by donating them.

Recycle:
Challenge yourself to recycle more. Return wire hangers to the dry cleaner, rubber bands to the post office, eyeglasses to your optometrist, and wine corks to your local Whole Foods.


What are some of the lesser-known benefits of Green Organization?

There’s a psychological lift and a sense of satisfaction that comes with living in a less toxic space. The fewer things you own, the less time and energy you need to spend caring for them.


What helpful tips would you give to someone who is new to Green Organizing?

People often start an organizing project by rushing out and buying new containers. This can result in more unnecessary stuff! A better way is to weed out items you don’t need to keep and then find containers to store those you really want – possibly by reusing or repurposing something you already own.

Another tip: set up permanent places in your home to collect items for donation or recycling. I have a bin in my closet for clothing and shoes, and another in my garage for things to go to the recycling depot.


What sparked your interest in Green Organizing?

My mom was a child during the Depression and my dad was an immigrant from wartime Europe. Avoiding waste in my childhood home was a practical necessity. As an adult, I was surprised to discover that not everyone thinks environmentally. It’s now part of my organizing approach to gently educate my clients on ways to be eco-friendly.


Do you have an eco-friendly fragrance that you recommend to clients?

The eco-friendliest fragrance is no added fragrance! Nothing smells as good to me as sheets that have been dried outside in the sun.


What are some quick and dirty tips that we can incorporate now to lessen next year’s organizing?

Organizing is easiest if you do it regularly rather than save it up for an all-out attack.
One trick: when you switch your closet for the season, hang items with the hangers facing backward. As you use them, rehang with the hangers facing forward. At the end of the season, you will immediately identify which ones haven’t been worn.


When organizing, what are the first things to tackle in order to prevent getting overwhelmed?

Start small. Something as small as getting one drawer under control provides immediate satisfaction and will motivate you to tackle something else. Another tip is to set a timer for 20 minutes. You’ll be amazed at what you can get organized in just a short burst of focused time.

For more information, reach out to Hildy on LinkedIn.

The latest sandal trends from Donald J. Pliner

From the beaches of Miami to the neon-lit streets of Las Vegas and beyond, Donald J. Pliner shoes and accessories are infused with bold, modern styling inspired by places frequented around the globe.

Donald Pliner combines unique details with luxurious materials to create sandal styles that span all occasions from cabana to soiree. The freshest designs to join our collection embody what’s going on in footwear right now. These are the top trends for the Donald Pliner pieces we have selected for the season.

1. STRAP HAPPY

Donald Pliner Doli Demi Wedges
Go ahead, flaunt that pedicure. Sandal season is officially open, and as you lighten your layers, it’s time to expose those pretty toes.


2. PRECIOUS METALLICS

Donald Pliner Fae Woven Sandals
A little shimmer and shine instantly elevates a simple silhouette, taking it from day to evening, and from classic to unexpectedly modern.


3. WOVEN DETAILING

Donald Pliner Vida Elastic Shoes
The intricate detailing of woven leather straps adds texture for an unexpected twist on a minimalist sandal — add a heel and you are ready for anything.


4. REPTILE CHIC

Donald Pliner Dani Wedges
Snakeskin prints add depth and dimension to metallic leather, offering fashionable flair to the most wearable of styles.


5. POP SOME CORK

Donald Pliner Mules
A cork sole or heel lend a natural touch to modern styling that gives the shoe a chill, versatile vibe — special enough for seasonal events, yet easy enough for every day.

What are your favorite sandals and trends for spring and summer?

You’re the editor: Preview the 2017 backpack collection & get free shipping!

Tell us what you think and receive FREE Shipping on your next order.

2017 Kids' Backpacks: Garnet Hill Kids' Backpack Survey
Take the Garnet Hill Kids' Backpack Survey
Although it’s not quite the end of the school year, we’re already busy preparing for next fall. The brand-new 2017 backpack collection has just been photographed and we couldn’t wait to share a sneak peek with you!

New for 2017:

Every backpack and lunch pack in the collection is now made with recycled PET fabric, created from plastic bottles and reclaimed polyester.

And, as always, each bag is ergonomically designed to give your child the best possible fit.

We’re thrilled with how they turned out and would really love to know which ones you’ll like the most. Would you share your thoughts with us? Fill out our quick backpack survey, and you’ll receive a promo code via email for FREE Shipping on your next order!

Thanks for your feedback, and be sure to mark your calendar for June 15 to be among the first to shop the collection when it premieres online.

Creative tips for traveling with kids

Low-tech entertainment for your next family vacation

As the season of family road trips and airplane travel approaches, it’s a good idea to have some fresh strategies ready to keep kids happy and occupied. Tablets and phones can be great in a pinch, but we love creative and interactive activities. Here are a few favorites:


Ask the kids to document the trip with an instant-print camera

Ocean Photos
You know, the old-fashioned kind. Introduce your kids to the joy of snapping a photo and waving it around in the air as you eagerly wait to see what develops.

Pro tip: You’ll want to ration the film – maybe even hide some extra in your bag – so you don’t run out before you’ve even left the driveway.


Create a collection with free (or nearly free) found items

Travel Bag
Anything from rocks, to sea glass, to coins, to flowers for pressing. Next, decide on some creative ways to catalog where you found each item and what it reminds you of.


Pack a journal/scrapbook with supplies

Butterflies on a Book
Give your child a journal for doodling, writing, and pasting in their photos. A blank book plus a glue stick, stickers, crayons and colored pencils for the younger set, and markers for older kids are all a good start.


Bring along a family mascot

Golddish in a Bowl
Pack something meaningful, but not priceless, like a photo of a pet who couldn’t make the trip or silly knickknack from home. Tote them along for funny photo ops and share their journey with family and friends.


Play some travel-friendly family games

Remember I-Spy? License-plate bingo? 20 questions? All of those car-trip classics are just as fun for kids now as they were back then, and they have the added benefit of engaging little imaginations.

Refresh your memory on how to play, and discover more games you may not know.

If you have the space, pack UNO, Go Fish, and Travel Yahtzee for more options.


Make a big deal out of little thrills

Kids are experts at this. The hotel elevator, the frog in the grass by the parking lot, the tiny swing set at the playground (rather than the over-the-top rides at the amusement park).

As every parent knows, the things you expect to make an impression are often not what kids are still talking about months and years later. And really, that’s part of the magic.

Step back whenever possible and let the kids take the lead. You may find it’s the key to your best vacation memories.

What are your suggestions for keeping everyone happy on a family trip?

How to naturally dye easter eggs

If you have kids at home, at some point this week you’ll most likely be coloring Easter Eggs with your little ones. You’ve seen the easy dye-kits at the supermarket containing vials of artificial food coloring, but this year we’re on a quest to find a more natural, sustainable method for coloring eggs.

Turns out one of our favorite bloggers, Kaley Ann, has mastered naturally-dyed Easter eggs and suggested a few options to try.

1. Use ingredients in your fridge and pantry.

Kaley may have stumbled upon this idea by accident but we think it’s brilliant – and not to mention safe and fun for the kids.

Select ingredients from the list below and boil in a small pot for 10 minutes with salt. Then pour the boiled liquid into mason jars, and add vinegar and hard-boiled eggs. Let the eggs sit in your homemade dye for a few hours, or leave over night for a more vibrant color.


Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

For BLUE:
2 cups of chopped purple cabbage
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon vinegar

For GREY-BLUE:
2-3 cups of blueberries
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon vinegar

For PINK:
1 beet, chopped
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon vinegar

For ORANGE:
1-2 tablespoons of paprika
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon vinegar

For YELLOW:
1-2 tablespoons of turmeric
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon vinegar

For GREEN:
3 cups of chopped spinach
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon vinegar


2. Create ombre eggs.

Using the same method above, but remove an egg from the dye every hour or so. When you’re finished, your eggs can be arranged to create a beautiful gradient of color.

Kaley’s favorite ingredient to use for this is purple cabbage to create eggs in blue hues.
Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs in Blue

3. Keep them au naturel.

If you have access to a local farmers market that sells farm fresh eggs, you can try the ultimate natural Easter egg solution.
Natural Eggs
Just go pick out an array of beautiful farm fresh eggs in soft hues. From subtle blush tones to sea-foam greens to misty aquas, nature has already done the work for you!

Do you have any natural dye secrets to share? We’d love to hear them. Comment below.

Maple sugaring at The Rocks Estate in Bethlehem, NH

A horse-drawn wagon,
Bright blue tubing zigzagging from tree to tree,
The drip-drip-drip of sap falling into galvanized buckets,
Steam rising up from the sugarhouse as snow gently falls…

The Rocks Estate in Winter, Bethlehem, NH

Photo by Jason Tors

Maple sugaring is a time-honored tradition here in New England. It’s a sign that spring is on its way. To celebrate, we recently visited The Rocks Estate in nearby Bethlehem, New Hampshire for a little Maple Sugaring 101.

Collecting the sap requires the right conditions: warm days and chilly nights. And it takes 30-50 gallons of sap to create one gallon of maple syrup. Once the trees start to bud, the sap tastes different and the sugaring season is over.

Maple Syrup

Photo by Megan Bogdziewicz

We learned how to identify red maples (red buds at the end of the branches) and sugar maples (sharp needle-like buds), and how to responsibly tap trees. We identified a sugar maple in the tree line and used an auger to insert the tiny tap to get the sap flowing. When done correctly and placed in the right spot, the trees naturally fill in the hole after the season and it becomes almost invisible.

The sap didn’t taste like much directly from the tree, but we visited the steamy sugarhouse to see how it is boiled down into syrup and graded based on its color. After, we went back to the main building for a chef’s tasting and cooking demo from a local inn. Sweet and savory fritters with a touch of maple cranberry chutney — the end of a glorious maple-sugaring day.

The New Hampshire Maple Experience is offered in early springtime every year and The Rocks Estate is open all year long, offering various programs.

About The Rocks Estate

The heritage of The Rocks Estate reaches from the pastoral beauty of 1800s through the property’s modern-day role as a conservation and education center for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. Now home to the 1,400-acre North Country Conservation & Education Center for the Forest Society, The Rocks was once the summer home of Chicago businessman and International Harvester cofounder John Jacob Glessner and his family. In 1978, John and Frances Glessner’s grandchildren donated the estate, including 22 buildings, to the Forest Society, with the requirement that there always be a crop in the field. For more than three decades, that crop has been Christmas trees. Today, the Forest Society offers a host of other activities, from springtime maple tours and school programs to various natural history talks and customized experiential tours for small groups. The trail system at The Rocks is open daily to visitors.

Looks Like Now, Made Like Then™: French Linen

Spring is in the air here in the White Mountains, but we’ve been anticipating its arrival for months now with the launch of our newly expanded French linen collection.

FRENCH LINEN: LIKE WOVEN WIND

If you could weave a summer day into fabric, it would feel like this. The most breathable of all natural fabrics, linen is a favorite in warmer weather. Our designs are breezy, with flowing lines and colors inspired by nature. In other words, everything coordinates beautifully, naturally.

French Linen Clothes at Garnet Hill: Easy Sleeveless Linen Tunic, Easy Wide-Leg Linen Pants

Linen has twice the strength of cotton

GROWN AND HANDPICKED IN FRANCE

Our linen is made from the finest-quality fiber of its kind, grown under ideal conditions in Normandy, where the coastal climate and well-drained soil yield extra-long fibers of pure French flax. Once harvested by hand, it is then fanned out across a field and turned periodically for four weeks, to prepare for spinning.

GARNET HILL FRENCH LINEN

French Linen Clothes at Garnet Hill: Easy Linen Tunic
Our exclusive spinning method creates a softer linen, with superior luster and texture that gets better still with washing.

The more you wear it, the more you wash it, the softer it gets.

We invite you to explore our French Linen Collection.

A local treasure: Tarrnation Flower Farm

Flowers at Tarrnation Flower Farm in Sugar Hill, NH

Photo by J.Harper Photography

The first thing spring brings to mind is flowers – perhaps because of our work with botanical prints.

Vanessa and Reggie Tarr - Tarrnation Flower Farm in Sugar Hill, NH

Photo by J.Harper Photography

In our neck of the north woods, this means a visit to our neighbors down the road, Tarrnation Flower Farm. The six-acre farm is a local treasure, with manicured gardens and iconic New England architecture.

Vanessa and Reggie Tarr, the daughter and father behind the blossoming business, were recently featured in Design New England (a Boston Globe publication).

Vanessa Tarr - Tarrnation Flower Farm in Sugar Hill, NH

Photo by J.Harper Photography

Vanessa Tarr - Tarrnation Flower Farm in Sugar Hill, NH

Photo by J.Harper Photography

Flowers at Tarrnation Flower Farm in Sugar Hill, NH

Photo by J.Harper Photography

Tarrnation Flower Farm in Sugar Hill, NH

Photo by J.Harper Photography

Reggie, who has worked in landscape design for more than 30 years, bought six acres of farmland in 1997 and began planting vegetables and perennials in his spare time. It wasn’t until three years ago, with Vanessa’s encouragement, that they created a business together, solely growing and selling flowers and arrangements.

As Vanessa was raised running through the gardens, her passion for flowers was inevitable. Today you’ll find her in the barn putting together bouquets for the farm’s CSA, in the studio creating arrangements for weddings, or out in the garden side by side with her father, harvesting or planting.

Originally a veggie grower, Reggie maintains a self-taught approach to growing flowers. His neatly cultivated gardens and beautifully grown blooms say everything about form and function on the farm. The farm is his form of art, and he finds solace in getting his hands dirty planting seeds or weeding the gardens.

For more information (and more beautiful photos of flowers), please visit the Tarrnation Flower Farm website or follow them on Instagram at @tarrnationflowers.

Tarrnation Flower Farm is located at 96 Streeter Pond Road, Sugar Hill, NH. It is open from June to mid-October and Thanksgiving to Christmas, Tuesday–Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. and by appointment (603-348-2223).

A familiar face: Yara Shahidi — Actress, social activist, and former Garnet Hill Kids model

One of the exciting things about having a children’s clothing collection is working with young models as they’re just starting out and seeing what they do next.

For some, like former Garnet Hill Kids model Yara Shahidi, these early experiences are followed by opportunities in entertainment and beyond.

A rising star for both her acting and social activism, Yara is now 17 years old and featured in the ABC comedy Black-ish. She previously appeared in over a dozen TV shows and films including Imagine That with Eddie Murphy and Salt with Angelina Jolie.

When not acting, Yara speaks on issues of social justice; volunteers at medical clinics; and spearheads YARA’S CLUB, an online mentorship program for young girls. She even teamed up with former First Lady Michelle Obama and Glamour in 2016 to lead an interactive discussion on issues disrupting education for girls around the world.

It’s inspiring to see what Yara has accomplished in the eight short years since she was a model for the Garnet Hill Kids catalog.

We can’t wait to see what she does next!

Spruce up your space for spring

Spring is the season to refresh, reboot, and reenergize. While it’s easy to feel inspired to take on big projects at the sight of melting snow and blossoming flowerbeds, we always prefer to start small and update our home décor as a way of kicking off the new season.

1. Swap out wintery sheets and linens.

Who says the beginning of spring means the end of crawling into a cozy bed with a good book? Lauren from House of Hire showed us a beautiful way to give the bedroom a clean look using this Brushstrokes Supima Cotton Bedding. She recommends these texturized and neutral sheets for both their comfort and aesthetic appeal.
Judy Ross Textiles Brushstrokes Supima Cotton Percale Bedding
Judy Ross Textiles Brushstrokes Supima Cotton Percale Bedding
Michele from Hello Lovely revealed that she is also a fan of the Supima Cotton Bedding look, dubbing the design “hip and young”. To complement the crisp pattern of the sheets, she chose a neutral throw pillow and added some fresh flowers to her nightstand.
Judy Ross Textiles Brushstrokes Supima Cotton Percale Bedding

2. Redefine spring cleaning on your terms.

If you are overwhelmed by the thought of spring cleaning, try out spring storage instead. Bring in a couple of lively pieces to brighten and declutter your household. Sarah Tucker turned the Elements Printed Canvas Storage Bin into the perfect accent piece for her bedroom.

3. Brighten up your bins.

Many of us associate the first breath of spring air with finally being able to spend some time outdoors. If you have kids, chances are your little ones will be playing outside and returning with plenty of that spring mud on their clothes. So since you’ll spend a little more time here, brighten up your laundry room like Monica of Lavin Label. We love how she added a vibrant pattern to her white laundry room with this canvas storage bin.
Judy Ross Textiles Elements Printed Canvas Storage Bins
Judy Ross Textiles Elements Printed Canvas Storage Bins
Judy Ross Textiles Elements Printed Canvas Storage Bins
How are you sprucing up your space for spring? We want to hear your tips!