Eastern Style: Bonsai Trees


Japanese culture and style has fascinated me for years – I’m enchanted by Japanese woodblock prints, paper lanterns and screens, beautiful tea sets, and everything in between. One of my absolute favorite facets of Japanese culture is the cultivation of miniature trees, or bonsai trees. I will not pretend to be an authority on caring for bonsai trees. I can only claim to be a fervent enthusiast at best, but I have a serious interest and the intention of improving my caregiving skills! RIP those bonsai trees that have already met their end at my hands…

Bonsai literally means “tray-plant”, aptly named because the miniature trees are planted in very shallow trays, which restrict the tree’s root growth. As the trees grow, their branches are shaped, or “trained” with wire to create the desired visual effect. Bonsai trees have been grown in Asia for over a thousand years and there are many avid connoisseurs today. These miniature trees provide an incredible aesthetic element to an apartment if you’re up for the challenge. I say challenge because, as one of my bonsai books stated, they are like the show poodle of the plant world. They require consistent daily care and careful attention to surroundings. However the end result is fascinating and rewarding, lasting years if taken care of properly. Amazingly, some bonsai trees even outlived their owners.

There are many different types of bonsai trees – basically any type of tree can be miniaturized, but there are specific popular breeds. Junipers are the most readily available, probably because they are the easiest to take care of. They are hardy and do well in most climates. Other evergreens are also popular, but some of the most beautiful ones are red maple trees and flowering varieties. The best way to find a good starter bonsai is to contact a local nursery or bonsai club and talk to someone about it. Larger nurseries may have a horticulturist who specializes in bonsai care. I also recommend doing some research online and in the library. Each type of tree requires different soil and daily care, so it is best to know what you are getting yourself into.

With the right care and attention, bonsai trees create beautiful silhouettes in any apartment and are even good conversation starters. For care and information on breeds, check out this website.

For some seriously impressive bonsai inspiration (these are some of the most impressive bonsais in the world!) look here.

It’s Time for Fireworks!: Independence Day 2016


Summer is officially here! With the fourth of July right around the corner, you’re sure to be making plans for this year’s big patriotic celebration. Here are some of the events and happenings in the Gainesville and surrounding northern and central Florida areas:

Fanfares and Fireworks

This celebration of music and fireworks will be taking place on July 3rd, with music starting at 7pm at Flavet Field. Three musical groups are scheduled to play and fireworks will start around 9:40 that evening.


City of Alachua Fourth of July Celebration

Join the all-day celebration on July 4th at the Hal Brady Recreation Complex where the city is hosting its annual Independence Day blast. The festivities start at 3pm and last until 10pm. There will be events, activities, music, and vendors for everyone in the family. Fireworks start at 9:30pm!


Keystone Heights’ Our Country Day Celebration

An annual event started in 1969, this Fourth of July event has grown over the years and includes a parade, 5k run, arts and crafts, and more. The event is split between two days: it begins on July 2nd with music and dancing from 7-11pm at Keystone Airport and picks up on Monday, July 4th with the remainder of the activities.


Micanopy Independence Day Celebration

The town of Micanopy will be kicking off their July 4th celebration on Monday with a parade at 11am, and a fish fry at the Micanopy Museum immediately afterwards. Events for families will also be taking place at the Micanopy Ball Park, ending with fireworks in the evening at sundown.


Eating Organic and Local Foods in Gainesville


The health benefits to eating organically grown food, without pesticides, are reason enough to switch from your regular grocery store crops to a safer, pesticide-free alternative. But in addition to this, organic produce also typically tastes better. It’s true that it’s more important to buy certain types of produce from organic growers (the “dirty dozen”) while others are not as dangerous, but overall you will be getting a better and healthier product (as well as locally grown) from the organic farms in your area.

So, when you’re shopping, where can you get all this awesome produce? Some grocery stores stock local organic produce. Most grocery stores at least have an organic section, whether it be local or not. You can also go to local farmer’s markets to find locally sourced produce, flowers, and other natural ingredients.

This list includes farmer’s markets all across the state of Florida, divided by county.  

An alternative to shopping at the farmer’s markets alone is joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) program. When you sign up for a CSA, you pledge to work a certain amount in the garden or on the farm and in return you are provided with compensation through fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Both Swallowtail Farm in Alachua and The Family Garden in Gainesville have CSA programs you can join. This is great if you are on a budget, but have a little bit of extra time to dedicate to helping out.

Create a Capsule Wardrobe and Your Closet Will Thank You


The capsule wardrobe trend is booming and for good reason. Not only does it weed out the clutter from your closet, but it takes the guesswork out of what to wear in the morning. Essentially, the basic idea is to reduce your wardrobe to simple staple pieces that you can mix and match for a large number of complete outfits. The idea of the capsule wardrobe isn’t new and has been floating around since the 70’s. It’s a great alternative to trying to keep up with the constant and ever-changing flow of fashion trends, which inevitably will all fade and have you throwing things out or giving them to Goodwill. This will in turn save you money as well!

First things first – how many things should you have? It all depends on your preference, but typically a capsule wardrobe is fewer than 30 pieces for all seasons. This includes shoes! But you don’t have to stick to a specific number if you embrace the basic principle: invest in high quality, neutral pieces of clothing and avoid trendy pieces. If you don’t want to buy everything in neutrals, pick several colors to mix in with your other more neutral pieces. Just keep in mind whatever you get should be basic enough to combine with your other pieces.

Blogger Lindsay of Pinch of Yum created a really simple, helpful guide to creating a capsule wardrobe which you can look at here. She uses a formula which is: 9 tops, 5 bottoms, 5 shoes, per season. Simple and sweet. For girls, you may want to add in a couple dresses into the mix. Ideally, once you’ve put together your new capsule wardrobe, you should be able to fit the entire thing on one of those portable clothing racks, which is helpful if you don’t have a closet. Just one more reason to go minimalist.


5 Surprising Things to Love From IKEA Kids


Brace yourself: here comes another installment in my long epic dedication of love to the Swedish giant of flat-packed home furnishings. The list of reasons why I wax poetic about IKEA is a long one, but I have been fascinated by their children’s department (to my surprise) for quite some time. If I stop and think about it it’s not as surprising as I once thought; the children’s department is full of playful patterns and whimsy, which is right up my alley. I don’t see any reason to rule out using children’s decor in a “grown-up” apartment and would in fact encourage more people to embrace their inner child and have some fun with decorating. Creating a space you enjoy being in is the key to a happy home, so why not have the room you always wanted?

SMILA HJÄRTA wall lamp – The lighting in the children’s department is by far my favorite part and this is the first thing on my list. This adorable heart-shaped wall lamp creates a lovely ambient glow. Having one on the wall sounds like a good idea…having a bunch of them on the wall sounds even cooler. If you’re not into the heart shape, there’s also a crescent moon and a star version of the same product.

SPÖKA night light – Nothing cuter than these two little night lights could grace your bedside table. These critter lights are just too adorable and complement each other perfectly.

BOLLSINNE decorative pillow – Who didn’t love their magic 8 ball as a kid? This throw pillow is a funky throwback and cool addition to any couch or bed.

CHARMTROLL bed canopy – IKEA kids’ bed canopies are so much fun! And if you think that having a canopy over your bed is a little juvenile, you could always use it to add depth in a different part of your apartment instead.

DANSA disco ball – Channel your inner dancing queen with this disco ball. Great for everyday ambience or to get the party started. No polyester required.


Why stop with IKEA? Have you seen Target’s kids’ department?….

Rocking Bohemian Style Living Spaces


The 70’s are back in a big way when it comes to this year’s style and design – in case you haven’t noticed, flared jeans have worked their way back into popular clothing stores and festival style reminiscent of Woodstock has us all embracing an easy-going, flowery existence. If your apartment is feeling a little stuffy, you can easily lighten up the mood with a freer, more eclectic, vintage bohemian style.

If you need a little inspiration, throw on a Simon and Garfunkel album or consider watching Easy Rider while you plan your new space.

Start with textiles. A flowing tapestry for the wall, eastern style patterned rugs, and fluffy thick textured throw blankets. Layering is key to creating a comfortable and cozy space. Don’t be afraid to mix lots of patterns! Add extra throw pillows to chairs and couches to complete the laid back look.

Set the mood with lighting. String lights create soft and carefree ambience in an instant. Replacing traditional light bulbs with vintage “Edison” style bulbs also improve the mood through softer, yellower light. If your side table lamp is feeling a little too intense, throw a colored scarf over top (just make sure the bulb isn’t touching the scarf because we don’t want any apartment fires).

Add natural elements. Geodes, crystals, wooden or stone sculptures, brass and patinated metals all add an earthy feel to your living space. Plants are an important part of the boho look- lots and lots of plants! Extra points if they are suspended in a macrame plant hanger.

Fortunately the bohemian style is popular and easy to find at your local decor shop. Urban Outfitters in particular is all about the boho style. But if you don’t want to go contemporary and want to truly embrace the 70’s, I recommend shopping at your neighborhood thrift shop for the true vintage style!

Pets in Apartments: Before and After


Our pets are amazing and important pieces of our lives – they love us unconditionally, even when we’re not feeling our best, and uplift our spirits in sad times. Pets are like family these days and we want to give them the best we can at all times. It’s easy to overlook the details when you see a picture of a cute puppy at the shelter or research your favorite dog breeds, but if you’re an apartment dweller there are more things to consider before you commit to a new fluffy friend.

If you don’t have a dog yet, here’s what to consider:

What is your current apartment’s pet policy? This may affect which breed you get if you’re in the market for a dog. Some apartments allow dogs, but only within a particular weight limit. Other apartments may have breed restrictions. Make sure to check these details beforehand. If your apartment only allows cats, then that will affect your options as well.

Which kinds of dogs do well in apartments? Some dog breeds tend to fare better in small spaces than others. Do a little research to see if you want to pick one that has a good track record with small space living. This list here may shed some light on your search!

Are you able to check on your dog frequently enough throughout the day? Understandably, dogs can get anxious (especially puppies) if they are left alone in an empty apartment all day. This could lead to destructive tendencies that might cost you your security deposit and accrue additional fees.

How much money will it cost you? Many apartment complexes have a pet deposit, which may or may not be refundable. Often there is a monthly fee as well. Don’t forget to see how the deposit and fees factor into your budget!

If you already have a dog and you’re searching for a new apartment:

Search for apartments using a pet filter When you’re looking for apartments on the Gainesville Apartment Guide, select the appropriate pet filter on the lefthand sidebar to make your search quicker and easier and rule out the apartments that do not allow pets.

Keep your dog or cat’s vet records up to date and have them readily available Your prospective landlord may want to see that your pet’s shots are up to date and that you are taking adequate care.

Pay attention to the details Is there a lot of green space nearby to take your dog out? What are the floors made of (and will you need to pad them with rugs so the downstairs neighbors don’t go crazy)? Are the walls heavy duty or do noises like barks travel well? Think of the habits your dog has and envision what life will be like within the prospective apartment.