Friday, July 26, 2013

Etsy Business Profile: Gentlemanly Pursuits

Today we're chatting with Sebastian, owner of Gentlemanly Pursuits on Etsy.

Tell us a bit about you and your shop.
After having a whirlwind and rather profitable BIG life in NYC... Big Job, Big Apartment, Big Stress and Big Sleepless nights for far too many years, my long time partner of 30 years and I decided to ca$h in our ticket to ride and move someplace small town and very old. I owe my sanity these days to this... Now, I dabble in gardening, cooking and design and a few other gentlemanly ideas. Hence the name "Gentlemanly Pursuits" just seemed to fit perfectly, and I like the way it sounds.

When and how did you notice your love for vintage?
Ever since I was a dark eye'd secretive lad, I have always loved the past. History has been my reasoning for the good and bad things I see in the world around me. So, finding the remenants and artifacts of the past has been a life long quest.

19th century Chinese porcelain bowl - Art Deco bronze vase - Silver plated French wire basket

How did you end up selling vintage?
Downsizing from a much BIGGER life to a 4 room old Cape Cod Cottage lifestyle, one had many things, and so for 2 years I rented a real-time shop space from a good friend and sold the 24 odd old country chairs once used for lavish dinner parties in Gramercy Park among many other treasures gleaned from the many weekends in the country and trips abroad. When I stumbled upon Etsy while looking for some handmade dresses for my newly born god daughter, I though what a GREAT idea! And as they say in my/our beloved La Belle France... voi-la! I began my online shop, closed the real-time one to devote myself to my garden, my partner (who is still working part of the year) and my dogs.

Sebastian's garden and dogs!

Do you have a favorite era? Do you collect anything (vintage or not)?
Now we are very fortunate to spend a while each winter in France. Which of course provides a certain Francophile edge and air to my shop. I have always been a collector of French 18th century prints and other things. I should think if I were to claim a time, place and style, it would be 18th century anyplace and especially France.

French cut crystal wine decanter - 1930s French crystal wine glasses

Anything else you wold like to add?
I have been lucky, sales are GREAT, and the money good. I have become acquainted with many lovely people and gotten to know a few, even had a celebrity or two purchase a few items. What really has made me smile about Etsy, is the camaraderie of like minded people who share a passion for life and beautiful, useful things and, let's face, we, antique collectors and dealers and such, are really the foot soldiers in the recycling war... aren't we?

Gentlemanly Pursuits headquarters.

Before I step out of this blog spot light... I should like to mention friends I adore whom also acquired online from Etsy: Nan and Dermot. I was scanning the scene after having brought home from a recent Paris trip some linens and wanted to see who and how they might be sold on Etsy. I found them, loved the style of presentation etc, but it was the descriptive quality that made me have to email them a note of thanks for the guidance... And they replied with an invitation to lunch next time round! So, next time round we went! There were 4 of us from Cape Cod and 4 of them meeting for the first time, for lunch. We met and after about 10 minutes of polite chatter the room was so noisy as if a family reunion was taking place! We had a most delicious and amazing lunch cooked by their great friends and than went for a long walk in Pere la Chaise (the Famous Cemetery in Paris). At 8pm we said a toute a l'heure (see you soon) and will again this coming winter. We remain constant pen-pals and team mates.

1950s porcelain dessert set - 1930s bone china tureens

Just to say that for me, Etsy and my shop are a very good and productive way to use all this technology we have been bombarded with in this new century we are living in... and it has opened up new ideas, put some coins in my pay pal pockets and, most of all, given me some happiness in the people and even a few friends I have met along the way.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Go away, bugs!

As the heat of summer continues to rise, bugs, whether pest or not, look for a cool place to escape the sun. Growing a healthy, pest-free garden is a goal that many gardeners have, but it can be a difficult goal to accomplish. What is more disappointing then picking a strawberry only to find a small hole in
the side or cutting into a squash just to discover it is infested with mites?

In our garden, we have discovered our plants may be healthy, but lately, the bugs of summer have decided to take up residence in our precious garden. Not wanting to resort to chemicals to get rid of our new neighbors, we immediately began to research chemical free alternatives to pest control.

For each pest, there is a natural way to get rid of it. One pest that continually has turned up are mites. By mixing a simple concoction of soap and cayenne pepper with water, a perfect chemical free pesticide is made. Here is how to create it:
  • 1/2 cup hot pepper or 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 tsp liquid dish detergent 
  • Cheesecloth
Heat water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add peppers and let steep (if using cayenne, no need to bring water to a boil). Strain with a cheesecloth and mix in soap.

Another great pest controller is this simple recipe of dish soap and vegetable oil. 
  • 1 cup Sunlight dish soap
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container. When you are ready to use it, take 1-2 teaspoons of mix and add it to a quart of water in a spray bottle. When applying, make sure to spray underneath the leaves. During hot weather, apply every third day.

Bugs also hate onions and garlic. Making a pesticide involving these can also be a great alternative. For more information about homemade pesticides, check out these websites. 
Tipnut: Natural Pesticides

Check out these sites and discover how you can have a healthy, pest-free garden without the chemicals.

Happy gardening to all! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Etsy Business Profile: The Things That Were

Today we're chatting with Valentin, owner of The Things That Were.

Tell us a bit about you and your shop.
My name is Valentin Stoev and my TheThingsThatWere is my shop. I am an enthusiast photographer (I actually run my own photography shop on Etsy as well). I have a daytime job and try to handle 2 Etsy shops in the meantime. I am 28 years old and live in Varna, Bulgaria just on the beautiful coast of the Black Sea.

Is there a story behind your shop name?
No story behind my shop’s name, I just felt the name needs to somehow tell people that the things that once were fashionable, precious or loved somehow can still be nowadays.
How did you end up selling vintage?
First of all, I have been on Etsy for over a year and a half selling my photography stuff. This was not very popular; I guess that it’s hard to find your niche in that area on Etsy. As I spent so much time on Etsy working on my photography shop I noticed that vintage is a very popular part of this place. What’s more I already had a lot of vintage stuff around the house. The thing is my dad used to sell a lot of stuff like that more that 20 years ago on an open market in my town and has a lot of old stock all over the place.
When and how did you notice your love for vintage?
Funny the way it is… I don’t think I ever loved vintage, until I started dealing with that and discovered its charms. I never expected that I could be so into that!
Do you have a favorite era?
No favorite era…. Yet! I am just getting into that!

Do you collect anything (vintage or not)?
I used to collect old postage stamps. I have a bunch of books for collection of those and they were all sorted in groups and all, it was very addictive way back when. I have considered putting those for sale at some point, so who knows maybe I will some day… but until then I keep them in my private collection.

Is there a special story about any of your sales?
No special sales yet, I am waiting for… the special one.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Prune That Squash!

Squash of all varieties are fantastic additions to a garden. My husband and I planted a plentiful amount of butternut squash and zucchini in ours, and in a matter of weeks, flourishing green vines and large leaves were hanging from our garden boxes with small yellow buds. Little did we know that this was just the beginning of the squashes' conquest in our garden.

Our butternut squash plants.
Knowing little about gardening, we discovered quickly that squash loves to spread and grow multiple vines and cling to other vegetables. Our squash seemed to grow wildly before our eyes and we were left scratching our heads on what to do to save our other beloved vegetable plants as the squash moved in. We quickly discovered a wonderful, simple solution: pruning. 

Squash, of all varieties, tend to grow quickly and on a vine. Large green leaves and multiple vines grow out in an effort to produce a lot, quickly. They need sunlight and soil that is able to drain but can stay moist. Due to the plants' effort to produce and grow a lot quickly, it spreads out its vines and keeps growing unless pruned. 
Squash above ground.

Squash end that you trim. Look for
octopus like vines. 
There are many suggestions on when to prune, but we have done it based on how fast our butternut squash grows and where it is growing. Most suggest pruning the plant every month starting when the vine is about 5 feet in length. To prune, find the growing tips of the vines and cut them off. The plant, thinking it is being attacked, will put more effort into growing more of its produce. You will get fuller, riper squash faster as well as keep the fast growing plant from spreading too thin across your garden. By mid growth, you can also pick off any new flowers to keep the maturing squash growing. Growing squash can also be placed off the ground to avoid any rotting if your garden ground is consistently wet. 

I love our butternut squash, and I am very excited to harvest them and make soup! These tips from gardeners have been so helpful to me and my husband, and I hope that they are helpful to you. 

Happy gardening!

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Gardener's Tale: Featuring Kate from StoryTellersVintage

Starting a garden on your own can be an exciting, rewarding experience. Gardening is not easy, though, and research and hard work are what produce the best, bountiful plants. Kate from StoryTellersVintage is one that has taken the step to gardening and has discovered through trial and error how to grow a beautiful garden. I had the opportunity to ask her some questions about her gardening experience and what drew her to garden in the first place. 

1. What interested you about gardening and why did you decide to start one for yourself? 

My love of gardening was passed down to me by my mother. As a child she helped care for the garden that fed her family of 7 in rural Pennsylvania. I can remember as young as 5 years old helping my Mom out in our garden, planting peas and picking tomatoes. As I grew older, my interest in gardening expanded, not just as a way to connect with the natural world around me, but also to embrace the many health benefits of growing your own food.
Right: Tomatoes and Butternut Squash from her garden!
Left: Pumpkins and Cucumbers!

2. What is your favorite memory or pastime of gardening? 

Besides the memories with my Mom growing up, I’ve had many fond memories growing vegetables at my current home with my boyfriend. I specifically remember the awesome feeling of accomplishment when we harvested our first cauliflower patch successfully. For all you gardeners out there, I’m sure you know how hard it is to grow! One of my favorite pastimes is actually weeding my vegetable beds. This really gives me a chance to clear my mind and get up close and personal with the plants. It’s an amazing feeling to notice the very complex ecosystem going on in the garden even on such a small scale.

3. What has been your biggest challenge with your garden? 

Terrace beds for hilly spots. Here you see onions,
carrots and peppers.
Currently, living in Northern California, the biggest challenge has been protecting our plants from invading pests. We’ve learned how to build raised beds to protect our plant roots from nibbling gophers. Aphids also tend to be a major problem here as well when growing brassicas and leafy greens. After trial and error, we’ve learned when to use an all natural garlic spray to protect them and reap successful harvests.

4. What has been your biggest triumph? 

Our biggest triumph to date has been planning and planting specific crops in succession for year round harvests. This enables us to have enough carrots, onions and garlic to use throughout the year, without having to buy them from the store. We are also constantly saving seeds from our own plants to replant the next season. Realizing that we are able to successfully care for, harvest, save seed and renew our soil with compost from the non-edible parts of our plants over and over again is one of the proudest things I can say I have done in my life.

5. Do you have any tips for our fellow gardeners?

Latest endeavor: Gourds that will be made
into bowls.

Start small and don’t be afraid to get dirty! There is nothing more overwhelming than planting a huge garden that you’re not used to taking care of and keeping up with. If you’re just beginning, start with a small herb garden. Many herbs are perennial and extremely hardy in most climates, making them easy to grow for the beginner. Plus they are plentiful and the perfect staples for cooking. As an avid gardener I would also recommend finding an organic gardening reference book and seed saving book to help answer basic questions you might have. I use “How To Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method” by J.I. Rodale and “Seed to Seed” by Suzanne Ashworth as my first points of reference. These are especially helpful to me when I’m growing a new type of plant for the first time.

Catnip Mint Plants
Also, Kate has a second Etsy shop called Foothill Fibers n' Photo where she sells catnip from her garden! Thank you, Kate, for sharing with us your garden experience and advice. I will be looking up the books Kate mentioned for gardening, and now I'd love to start a small herb box. 

Have a wonderful Monday gardeners! 


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy 4th of July EVE!!

What flavor of independence will you be celebrating on July 4th? 
Hanging with family and friends, possible travel, right? 
I feel so good knowing that I have a choice each day to act independently - all the while knowing that inter-dependence is what also feeds me. I get to choose all the items in my Etsy shop, for instance. And I am inter-dependent on this team, customers, other shops, and the Etsy community. 
Here is how I celebrate  my inter-independence and my independence with my peeps. . . EVEteam  :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hints from a Fellow Gardener

As beginning gardeners, my husband and I are constantly looking up information, reading books, and seeking advice from fellow gardeners when it comes to our growing plants. On one such search this past weekend, I discovered a delightful YouTube channel called GardenGirltv

Surprisingly, in a world filled with YouTube uploads and Instagram feeds, dedicated garden YouTube channels are difficult to find. With GardenGirl, she has an array of videos to choose from when it comes to gardening as well as tips on planting and even food creations from harvested produce. With a fun, old school opening at the beginning of most videos, you can see her love for gardening shine through each video. Below are two videos giving helpful hints for gardening and planting. 

Starting Seeds Using Toilet Paper Rolls.

How to Check for Sun Exposure

Where do you go for your gardening tips? Do you learn as you go or research before you even start? Let me know your thoughts and resources below! 
Happy gardening to all!