Puzzles may be the real winner of 2020. Our ability to constantly go from Good Screen to Bad Screen; small screen to big screen was tested. When you take away the in person gatherings, commute, the time spent in restaurants, museums, and other things we love; and move work, school, meetings, and gatherings of all kinds to a digital format at the same time, suddenly all we were doing was staring at screens. More than normal! Enter the humble, analog jigsaw puzzle.
Millions of individuals and small households used puzzles to entertain and distract themselves with puzzles this year. The engraver and cartographer John Spilsbury, of London, is believed to have produced the first jigsaw puzzle around 1760. Little did he know that 260 years later, a global pandemic would lead to me sitting on my floor at 3:00 am with gummy-induced synesthesia multiple nights in a row, solving puzzle after puzzle.
Labyrinth Games & Puzzles in DC was invaluable. I bought six puzzles from them online, via the easy and safe pick-up option. But they ship too! And Meredith in Pittsburgh was gifted a 1000 piece puzzle just this way. It’s going to be a long winter; get yourself some puzzles from a small business like Labyrinth.
✔️ DC Based
If you only know two things about me, they are probably that I love pandas and plants. Some of you may throw art into the mix, and that’s fair. A proud plant mom for many years, I can never have enough plants. And I’m not even necessarily even ~*good*~ with plants, but they bring me so much joy. I currently have 28 plants, and would be happy to have 128 more. You can always make more room for plants.
Indoor plants make your space look better, and provide personality. They also can heighten your mood, increase creativity, reduce stress, and improve air quality. You don’t need a green thumb either; look for plants that don’t require a lot of attention such as aloe vera, cast iron, Christmas cactus, Dumb cane family, bamboo, or Mass cane. Sometimes we are wooed by a beautiful plant that ends up being more high maintenance than dating a Virgo.
There has been a great rise in small business plant shops, including ones that ship! Definitely check your local area first, but I want to shout out Rooted. They’ve got a great “Find Your Plant” quiz, easy to comprehend resources, and offer free shipping anywhere in the United States. Liz in NYC is getting a Philodendron ‘Little Hope’ from them today! If you’re in DC, check out Little Leaf. And everyone should follow PlantKween.
🌎 Planet Friendly
💛 Minority owned
If you’re looking to support the arts in your area, check out the ceramics scene. We’ll talk a little bit about art for your walls later this month, but functional pieces are an excellent way to get star (or grow) your collection! You don’t have to worry about where to hang it, how to frame it, if it goes with your everyday vibe—just use it! Plus, often it’s easier to find something in your price point.
But Abbey, I don’t know any clay artists. Where do I start?! A few ways! Google may be a good starting point: your city + ceramics. But I will warn you, as a whole, artists are TERRIBLE at updating their websites. You’ll probably have more success on Instagram. Search for hashtags like #SFClay #PhoenixClay #LACeramics and see what you find. More often than not, you will be sent on an amazing artistic treasure hunt. Find an artist or cooperative gallery, and see where you can purchase the work. This is how I found a mug for Rita in Chicago! Because the Thing was a local mug, I went looking for Chicago ceramics. I ended up purchasing a piece by from Gnarware Workshop by Frenchy Villagrana.
Do make sure you’re looking at the work of professional artists. Typically, this will be fairly obvious from the portfolio of images, but it never hurts to do some additional Google recon. While supporting hobbyists can be fun and is not at all a bad thing, it is vital (especially in pandemic times) to try and direct your funds to working artists and arts organizations who rely on sales for their income. You are also guaranteed a more quality product from someone who has honed their craft.
Your beverage will taste better in a mug made by a local artisan. Whether they call themselves clay artists, potters, or ceramists, I guarantee you there is someone making amazing ceramics in your region. Pictured on this post is one of my favorite pieces from Marzel Artes Deolazo aka The Horny Potter. He might call it a bowl, but I use it as a mug 😉
🎁 Tiny creative business
🌎 Planet Friendly
🏳️🌈 Queer Owned
💛 Minority owned
🚺 Woman owned
Similar to the story of Thing #3, 2020 is also the year we sanitized. It took me a little trial and error to find a cleaning spray that was good for the planet and also actually worked. So I was beyond thrilled when I started using JAWS, because it really does work. And not just in a ‘works fine for a green product’ way; they’re genuinely great cleaners!
As their name anagram clearly spells out, you Just Add Water (to the System). A starter kit includes a spray bottle and two concentrated liquid pods. Each pod makes a full bottle of cleaner. With the exception of the disinfectant, all products are non-toxic. I use the shower cleaner, granite cleaner, and glass cleaner, but the power houses in my apartment are the kitchen cleaner and disinfectant.
The kitchen cleaner works SO well, and also smells great (an orange cinnamon scent!). With all of the increased cooking and cleaning at home during the pandemic, I have been using waaaay more cleaning supplies. It’s awesome to only have a small amount of (recyclable) waste with every bottle. Plus, I never have to worry about what is in stock at the store, as I keep a nice stash of refills under my sink from bulk online orders. Brian in NYC may be converted to the JAWS cleaning way soon, as a kitchen and disinfectant starter kit heading his way.
🌎 Planet Friendly
In another made for 2020 Thing, today we’re going to be talking about toilet paper. Glamorous, right? But important! Turns out, your regular TP can be really bad for the planet. Especially the super soft kinds, which need the wood pulp of old trees to please the tushies of the poop-obsessed cartoon bears.
But there’s an alternative, and it’s not a bidet (though if you want one of those, I am all for it; sadly, my building prohibits them). It’s another B word- bamboo! Bamboo is a grass, grows incredibly quickly, requires little water and no pesticides, and can be chopped down multiple times. Plus, it is panda 🐼 approved.
There are a few companies providing direct to consumer subscription toilet paper, but after some research, I decided to join Reel. I’ve been a subscriber since September 2019, and I really do love it. I love the 3 ply paper, the plastic-free packaging, and the fact that I never have to worry about buying toilet paper. A 24 roll box just shows up on my doorstep every 12 weeks. I can move deliveries up if supplies are running low (as I have done twice since the pandemic began and I am home ALL. THE. TIME), or postpone them if my supply runneth over. As an apartment dweller, it’s nice to get a reasonable amount insteading of trying to find room for 188 rolls.
Reel also works with SOIL, a non-profit research and development organization working in Haiti to design, test, and implement sustainable and cost-effective solutions to the sanitation crisis. Ready to not worry about securing your TP stash for the winter rush? Sign-up today! (Note, the Reel links here are my give a friend $5, get $5 referral links). Peri in
Columbus Beloved Flavortown received a case in the mail yesterday.
🌎 Planet Friendly
🖤 Black owned (co-owner)