Should You Buy a Real Tree or a Fake Tree?

Here are the ins and outs you need to know to make the best decision this year for you and your family.  

Blogger Shonee Smith of Hawthorne and Main chose flocked branches for a wintery ambiance. Once decorated with lights, ornaments and other accents, it can be difficult to tell by sight whether a tree is real or fake.

Set up and Storage

Live trees can be a pain to bring home, get through the front door and set up. Faux trees, however, are convenient to set up. They usually come in sections that are easy to assemble, and you can often get pre-lit models that save you from untangling all those lights every year. If you don’t have much storage space, though, you may want to go with a live tree, as you’ll have to store a faux tree for the other 11 months of the year.


A high-quality faux tree can be expensive, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. You’ll spend less on a live tree, only $100–$200, but over the years, those $100 purchases will add up. Most artificial trees last 5–7 years, so depending on the quality of the artificial tree, live trees may still be more cost effective in the long run.

Mess and Smell

Real trees are messy as they die and drop their needles, a problem you won’t have with a faux tree. Artificial tree don’t shed or require maintenance. The smell is also a consideration—if you get sniffles every year when you bring in a real tree, you may be allergic to pines. On the other hand, a real tree brings that heavenly pine scent that faux trees lack.


It seems like cutting down thousands of evergreens each year would be bad for the environment, but many argue the opposite. Faux trees contain synthetic materials that have a higher environmental footprint than live trees. Also, because of the demand for Christmas trees, the US has approximately 350 million Christmas trees growing on tree farms, which provides additional habitats for animals and agricultural growth in the US.


Victoria Van Vlear is the editor for American Farmhouse Style Magazine, where this article was originally published. For more home-grown inspiration, follow on Facebook and Instagram.


The Best Christmas Tree to Buy This Year

Stumped by all the Christmas tree options? Here are the 4 best species to choose.

A New Home With Vintage Sensibilities

Learn how to turn a newly constructed home into a vintage haven with homeowner Amy Campbell.

This tract home bathroom gets a vintage makeover with a farmhouse style bathtub and vintage bathroom accessories.
This tract home bathroom gets a vintage makeover with a farmhouse style bathtub and gold vintage bathroom accessories.

What do you do when you have a new home, but want a vintage look? When Amy Campbell and her husband Joe bought a new tract home in Temecula, California, Amy knew she would have to speed up its aging process. Here’s how she did it.

Vintage furniture makes the perfect antique haven for this new home.
The master bed is an heirloom piece from Joe’s grandparents, and on an end bench Amy displays part of her vintage hat collection.

Start With the Bones.

Decorating a home always starts with the structure itself. Even though Amy and Joe’s home still smelled of fresh sawdust, she saw the potential for vintage style. “I knew the ‘bones’ would work with my style,” she says. “I wouldn’t want high ceilings because they don’t lend themselves to a delicate style of furniture. It had the right scale for the way I like to decorate. Even though it’s an open floor plan, the scale and aspects of the room lent themselves to a gentler style of furniture, not huge pieces. It was the perfect marriage of light, open rooms in a traditional type of architectural style that I could decorate the way I wanted to. It also had English gardens in the back and front of the house.”

Instead of working against the architecture, Amy used it to her advantage. “The architectural style was French Country with a little Tuscan influence,” she says. “I wanted it a little more rustic. I added some shabby elements and a bit of industrial style for a French-cottage distressed look.” Amy paired the French country architecture with her own vintage style, which resulted in an aged but timeless look. “I love anything rustic and chippy,” she says. “I’d describe the décor as French provincial with a cottage twist.”

This new home receives a vintage makeover with shabby interiors and antiques on display.
If you want to display vintage items in your home, don’t stop with pillows or statuettes. Make clothes into accent pieces with a hat rack or dress form.

Add Vintage Charm.

When it comes to furniture, Amy is all about antiques. “Everything in my home has to be old and have a history, either vintage or antique,” she says. She displays vintage finds throughout her home, and doesn’t stop with the furniture. “I collect vintage buttons and add them to modern clothing,” Amy says. “I also collect floral oil paintings. My great-great cousin was an oil painter, and I started collecting and displaying them, including three of her paintings.” By displaying items such as antique coats and hats, Amy shows off her love of vintage style through small details as well as the larger elements of her rooms.

Shabby vintage details make this new home the perfect antique showcase.
Amy shares her grandmother’s passion for needlepoint, and in the living room, Amy’s work sits next to her grandmother’s on display.

Strut Your Stuff.

Not only does Amy display vintage pieces throughout her home, but she also shows off some of her own handiwork. “I love anything with needlepoint, and I display the needlepoints my grandmother and I made in the rooms,” she says. Even her passion for crafts and hand stitching is part of the heritage her grandmother passed down, and now the work of both grandmother and granddaughter sits proudly side by side. Amy’s needlepoint projects make an appearance in pillows and ottomans in various rooms.

In her dining room, Amy decorates for fall with appropriate white pumpkins and sprigs of green.
In her dining room, Amy decorates for fall with appropriate white pumpkins and sprigs of green.

Be Seasonal.

When the weather turns cold, Amy dresses up her home for the various holidays during fall and winter. “I love to decorate with pumpkins and gourds,” she says. “I also decorate bottlebrush trees—my true craft passion—for the holidays. I repurpose shoe buckles into bracelets and make them for holiday parties.”

During the fall months, real pumpkins and needlepointed masterpieces grace her living room, dining table and even bedroom. “The beauty of this kind of décor is that everything blends together well,” Amy says.


We All Scream for Ice Cream!

In her book Lomelino’s Ice Cream, Linda Lomelino shares the secrets to delicious, homemade desserts.


As we enter the heart of summer, you’re probably looking for a new treat—something to cool your hot skin and tickle your taste buds. In her book Lomelino’s Ice Cream, Linda Lomelino shares the secrets to delicious, handmade icy treats. “Fact: Ice cream is one of the best treats in life,” she writes. “Another fact: The best ice cream is homemade.” Here are two of her recipes to cool you off this season.

Lomelino's Raisin Ice Cream
Chopped rum-soaked raisins dot this sweet ice cream

Rum Raisin Ice Cream

Makes 1 pint

For the Rum Raisins:

  • 2 2/3  oz. raisins
  • 6 tablespoons dark rum

For the Ice Cream:

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum

Preparing the Rum Raisins:

  1. Combine the raisins and rum in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer 2–3 minutes.
  2. Pour the mixture into a bowl and let it cool for at least 2 hours.

 Making the Ice Cream:

  1. Lightly beat the egg yolks in a bowl.
  2. Mix the milk, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and heat to the boiling point. Slowly pour the hot milk into the eggs, whisking constantly. Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan and heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.
    3. Pour the cream in a bowl and place a sieve over it. Strain the egg/milk mixture into the cream. Blend it in. Stir in the rum raisins and the rum. Refrigerate until it is completely cold.
  3. Process the mixture in the ice cream machine until ready. Pour the ice cream into a chilled bowl and freeze.


Lomelino's Plum Sorbet
Sorbet is a lighter and sweeter alternative to traditional ice cream

Plum Sorbet

 Makes 1 Pint

  • 17 ½  oz. plums with skins on (about 9 fruits)
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • juice of ½  lemon
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • about ½ cup granulated sugar (to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons vodka
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Split the plums and remove the pits. Place the plum halves on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with the brown sugar. Bake in the oven on the center rack 30–35 minutes. Let the plums cool.
  2. Mix the plums with the lemon juice, water, sugar, and vodka and process to a smooth puree in a blender. Refrigerate the mixture until it is completely cold.
  3. Process the mixture in an ice cream machine until the sorbet is ready. Pour it into a chilled bowl and freeze.


Lomelino's Ice Cream

Lomelino’s Ice Cream: 79 Ice Creams, Sorbets & Frozen Treats to Make Any Day Sweet by Linda Lomelino, published by Shambhala Publications, Inc., © 2015;

Garden in Miniature

Bring the romance outside with miniature fairies and charming vintage finds.

A romantic garden usually contains roses, beds of wildflowers and a shady place to sit. But what if you added an unexpected surprise with tiny vintage gardens for fairies? Visitors will be delighted, and you’ll be able to use your garden as another canvas to feature beautiful antiques. Here’s how to do it.

Find the right piece.

Almost any vintage item you find at a flea market or estate sale can become a garden container. From a wood hutch or old animal trough to a chipped teapot or gilded frame, add vintage items that are large or small to your garden. Just make sure the piece has enough room for soil and plant roots. Even an item as small as a teacup can transform into a miniature garden if you don’t crowd it with too many plants.

Prep your piece.

Before you add plants to your container, make sure it’s ready for outdoor weather. For wood or painted pieces, add a protective stain or spray to prevent fading and rot. Metal pieces may gain a little rust, but this will only add charm to the piece. You’ll also need to waterproof the container, so line it with plastic or a rubber waterproofing material. You won’t want your antique wood crate to rot when you water the strawberries you’ve planted inside.

Bring the romance outside with miniature fairies and charming vintage finds.

Plant the flowers.

First, make sure the piece has good drainage. If it doesn’t, or the drainage would cause rot, place a layer of pebbles or pea gravel before you add soil. The rocks will act as a water filter and keep the water from sitting in the soil too long, which can damage the plants. Then add your soil and flowers.

Create a sanctuary for fairies.

Tiny creatures need small spaces with miniature accessories. Plant a low ground cover to act as a grassy meadow or lawn; then add small plants and flowers. Finish it off with the accents. Decorate with a fairy-sized table and chair set, or a bench on which the fairies can relax. Don’t forget to add the fairies too!


Grow Your Own Bouquet

Learn how to keep your home filled with fresh flowers without spending a fortune.


Learn how to grow your own bouquets with a cutting garden.

A bouquet of fresh flowers can do so much to brighten up your home. The scent, the bright colors and the reminder of the world outside will add a breath of fresh air to the room. The downside of fresh bouquets is the cost—the flowers will last for about a week (if you’re lucky), and if you want to keep fresh flowers in your home on a regular basis, the costs will add up to a pretty penny.

Luckily, there’s a solution—grow your own bouquets! “You can fill your house with flowers without spending a fortune,” writes Alex Mitchell in her new book, Gardening on a Shoestring. The book is a helpful gardening resource full of tips and tricks for making the most of your outdoor space without breaking the bank. Here are her instructions for how to create a cutting garden in your own backyard.

Learn how to grow your own bouquets with a cutting garden.

What You’ll Need:

  • An area of ground 6 x 9 feet, cleared of weeds and stones and raked into a fine tilth
  • Tape measure
  • Garden twine
  • Twigs or sticks
  • Scissors
  • 6 packets of seed: Bupleurum griffithli, Rudbeckia hirta ‘Marmalade,’ Cosmos ‘Sensation Mix,’ Cornflower ‘Blue Ball,’ Ammi majus, Agrostemma githago (Corncockle), or seeds suited to your planting region
  • Rake
  • Watering can with rose attachment/garden hose

When To Start:

Mid- to late spring

How to Do it:

Divide your growing area into six equal squares, staking out the grid with twine tied to sticks pushed into the soil. Then sow each square with a different variety of seed. Rake over the soil gently to cover the seeds and water well. Keep the patch weeded and protect the young shoots from slugs until established. Sowing each variety of seed in a different square makes harvesting and weeding easier.

Learn how to grow your own bouquets with a cutting garden.


Cut the flowers throughout the spring and summer to keep the plants blooming!

Learn how to garden without breaking the bank.

Gardening on a Shoestring by Alex Mitchel, published by Quarto, © 2016;

Message in a Bouquet

Instead of a text, give your loved one a bouquet of flowers to show them you care. Here are the meanings behind popular flowers to help you form your bouquets.

Flowers aren’t just beautiful—they can also send a message. “In the Victorian era and even long before that, flowers served as beautiful messengers that whispered what often could not be spoken aloud,” write Leigh Okies and Lisa McGuinness in their new book, Meaningful Bouquets. From anticipation and affection to forgiveness and friendship, a bouquet of flowers can help you speak to a family member or friend in a new way. “[In the Victorian era], they were the equivalent of clandestine text messages or notes of encouragement,” the authors write. Here are a few flower meanings and how you can combine them to create a beautiful message.


Use traditional Victorian flower meanings to convey a message.


“When you want to commemorate an occasion or a special person, this combination of flowers comes together for a memorable impression,” the authors write. The bouquet doesn’t have to be large—combine the flowers in a vintage coffee or food can for extra effect. Whether the occasion is a birthday, holiday or anniversary, here are some of the flowers you can include and the meaning they convey:

  • Pink carnations: I will never forget you
  • Rosemary: Remembrance
  • Oak leaf hydrangea: Calm
  • Forget me nots: Remembrance
  • Bluebell: Constancy


Use bouquets of flowers to convey meaning.

Crush on You

This bouquet can go to a significant other or another person you admire, such as your mom on Mother’s Day. “This arrangement is a lovely way to express your feelings for someone you find fascinating,” the authors write. “Give it to your crush or a friend to let them know they’ve been on your mind.” Include a “Thinking of You” card to tell them the meanings of the flowers in the bouquet:

  • Orange roses and rosebuds: Fascination
  • Maidenhair fern: Secrecy
  • Rose hips: Love
  • Daffodil: Admiration
  • Honeysuckle: Devotion


Use bouquets of flowers to convey meaning.


Sometimes it’s difficult to know how to give comfort to a friend or loved one when they’re having a hard time. A bouquet of flowers with their Victorian meanings is a steady reassurance of love and support. “Giving comfort and sympathy to others requires sensitivity and quiet reassurances,” the authors write. Here are a few flowers you can use to support others:

  • Scarlet geranium leaves: Sympathy
  • Dahlias: Dignity
  • Glove amaranth: Unchangeable
  • Peony: Bravery
  • Goldenrod: Encouragement

For more ideas, including bouquets for celebration, luck and passionate love, get a copy of Meaningful Bouquets here.

Meaningful Bouquets

Meaningful Bouquets by Leslie Jonath and Lisa McGuinnes, photography by Annabelle Breakey, published by Chronicle Books, © 2016;

Book Collecting 101

The basic guide to starting your own book collection.


Start your own vintage book collection.
When you’re out shopping at your favorite market or antique store, participate in the long, illustrious tradition of book collecting. Of course, you can just pick up titles that catch your eye or have beautiful covers, but if you want to start a library-worthy collection of your own, check out these tips.

Start your own vintage book collection.

Choose what kind of books to collect.

The number of books on the market, both new and vintage, is overwhelming. Narrow down your choices by choosing a type of collection. You can collect by several different methods:

Collect by genre. You can choose any kind of book, from vintage school textbooks and dictionaries to classic literature or stories you read as a child. But whatever genre you choose, make sure it’s a subject you love. You won’t keep interest for long if you start your collection simply for the sake of collecting.

Collect by author. You can shape your collection around a specific author or a group of authors. Collect texts by famous poets like Shakespeare and Robert Burns, or stick to modern literary geniuses such as T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Wolfe.

Collect by aesthetic. This method is a bit different because you’ll look at each book as an art piece instead of searching for books by their content. Try collecting music books with interesting graphics or hardback books with bindings from the 19th century.


Find the right books for your collection.

Once you’ve decided what you want to collect, keep an eye out for books that fit into your collection. When you find a book, there are a few things you’ll want to consider before you purchase it:

Condition. Book sellers categorize the condition of their stock with the same set of terms. A book in “As New” or “Fine” condition has very little wear, with no loose pages, stains or writing. “Good” and “Fair” books may have some writing, wear on the binding and a few dog-eared pages. Beware of books in “Poor” condition, which may have a torn, stained or missing cover, and missing pages inside.

Edition. The first printing of a book, also called the first edition, can be very valuable, especially if the book has gained popularity over the years and had a small initial print run. To tell if a copy is a first edition, check the copyright information inside the book against the book’s publication year. If the copy mentions any other years, it’s not a first edition. Some books will also contain a “First edition” label.

Dust Jacket. You’re in luck if the book you’re after has its original dust jacket. This will make the book more valuable because dust jackets are so easy to lose and tear. For example, a first edition copy of The Great Gatsby without its original dust jacket is worth about $2,000, but a copy with its dust jacket will sell for over $190,000 because the dust jacket artwork is so famous.

Start a collection of valuable vintage books.

Above all, do you homework. Become familiar with the kind of book you want to collect and the typical price ranges for the author’s work or genre of books. Then get out there and start looking!

If you’re still interested, here are a couple additional resources for you:

Abe Books is a good resource to find and become familiar with old and rare books. Peter Harrington also has a wide range of information about rare books, including a great article on first editions.

5 Ideas for a Vintage Easter Party

Surprise everyone this Easter with these fun and creative holiday favorites.

Add vintage charm to your Easter table with these helpful hints.

It’s time to start thinking about your Easter celebration! Here are 5 spring-inspired party ideas to help you get going.



Add vintage charm to your Easter table with these helpful hints.


1. Use an egg as your centerpiece. This beautiful giant egg is the perfect size for an Easter centerpiece—it catches the eye but isn’t too large or tall to block views or take up food space on the table. Set on a nest of wildflowers, the combination of the egg and blooms is a show stopper. If you can’t find a giant easter egg, dye some regular-sized eggs and create a nest full of them on the table.



Add a burst of spring flowers to your Easter table.

2. Add flowers to your cake. Whether you’re serving cookies, brownies or cake for dessert, decorate the top with fresh cut and washed flowers. This will bring the bright bloom of spring to your table. Try a combination of roses, pansies, daffodils, carnations and poppies to create a colorful splash.



Add vintage charm to your Easter table with these helpful hints.

3. Use a vintage element. No party or decoration is complete without a vintage element. In this pretty sideboard setup, a vintage vase with fresh daisies graces the dessert spread. You could even add a vintage statuette or figurine, such as this rabbit, to the dessert tray itself. This will add height and depth to your display.



Add spring charm to your Easter table with these helpful hints.

4. Serve rabbit food. Alongside your roasted chicken and deviled eggs, include some rabbit-friendly eats such as carrots, beets and greens. You could even pair the greens with rabbit-shaped tea sandwiches. Simply construct the sandwiches (egg and chicken salad work well) and use a rabbit-shaped cookie cutter to create your desired shape. Include a few pb&j sandwiches, and the kids at your table will be delighted!



Add vintage charm to your Easter table with these helpful hints.

5. Surprise your guests with a take-home favor. Make or buy a small favor for your guests to take away from the day. Even if you’re serving other homemade desserts, a beautiful decorated cookie wouldn’t go amiss as a party favor. You can set one cookie at each place, which will delight your guests and add an extra element to the tablescape.


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