This video shows what houseplants are doing while we’re away

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A crazy timelapse shows plants waving and dancing like nobody’s business.

I know plants move. They reach for the sun, they open and close their leaves, they respond to moisture … they have all kinds of moves designed to ensure they flourish while rooted to the ground. But until I saw this fabulous timelapse video from the ever-awesome houseplantjournal Instagram account, I really didn’t realize just how much they move.

The video shows two houseplants – an Oxalis and a Marantra – grooving through the course of the day. It’s a marvel. They’re like cute, floppy sea monsters trying to get attention. You can almost hear the noises they would make, squeaks and little sighs.

Plants move at a very different clip than we humans do – but we should never forget that they are very alive things, going through the paces of the day, just like we do. I’m not sure I’ll ever look at plants in the same way again.

Now go to your houseplants and tell them something nice. They’ve been working hard, they deserve it!

6 houseplants to boost well-being

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From improving sleep and indoor air quality to reducing anxiety and fatigue … houseplants are powerful allies.

The state of the world seems a bit wonky lately, and the way I’m feeling, it’s all hands on deck in the “boosting wellness” department. We all have our different approaches for self-care and resiliency, but one way in which everyone can benefit is by accepting an assist from Mother Nature – namely, by having some houseplants.

Now I realize that this may sound a bit like New Age woowoo, but there has been loads of research extolling the health benefits of greenery in the home – more about which you can read here: 5 health benefits of houseplants. Houseplants are little workhorses, doing everything from releasing oxygen, bringing indoor humidity levels up, filtering indoor air contaminants, speeding up healing, and even increasing focus. And that’s just for starters.

So with all of that in mind, here are some of the specific plants called out for their bevy of benefits.

Lavender

Lavender (pictured above) has a long-held reputation as a natural remedy for sleep and relaxation – and it’s got the science to back the claims up. Among a lot of other research, one single-blind randomized study investigating the effectiveness of lavender odor on quality of slumber showed that lavender improved sleep quality in a wide array of study participants. If you’re prone to insomnia, you know how rotten it feels to sleep poorly – it’s hard to feel well when you’re living in a fog of grogginess. A pot of lavender in the bedroom can do wonders.

ZZ plant

A study from the University of British Columbia concluded that if people simply take time to ponder the nature around them, it will increase their general happiness and well-being – and even houseplants can fill that bill. Which is where the superstar ZZ plant steps up to the plate. Why? Because Zamioculcas zamiifolia is super pretty and practically indestructible. It can take all kinds of light situations and can go for long periods of time without water. When I was first learning how not to not kill plants because of being a too-busy working mom, this was my gateway plant – I set a calendar alert to water it once a month … ten years later and my stalwart beauty continues to flourish and make me happy.

Spider plant

Because NASA has a vested interest in improving air-quality in sealed environments, the agency has given a lot of time to studying how houseplants (or spaceship-plants?) can remove indoor air pollution. They have concluded: “Both plant leaves and roots are utilized in removing trace levels of toxic vapors from inside tightly sealed buildings. Low levels of chemicals such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde can be removed from indoor environments by plant leaves alone.”

Spider plants are one of the group that performed especially well in this task – and it gets bonus points from me because it is so easy to grow more from cuttings. Spider plants shoot out little plantlets, which can be snipped off and started as new plants.. Plus, they’re just so cute.

Bromeliad

Bromeliad in bloomGinner_Q / pixabay/Public Domain

In a study working off the NASA findings, researchers set out to compare how various houseplants could remove a number of different types of VOCs from indoor air. They found that of all the plants tested, bromeliads were the most powerful – removing six of the eight VOCs, taking up more than 80 percent of each over a 12-hour sampling period. “Inhaling large amounts of VOCs can lead some people to develop sick building syndrome, which reduces productivity and can even cause dizziness, asthma or allergies,” notes the researchers. It’s hard to feel happy when you’re dizzy and getting asthma from off-gassing in your home.

Orchid

Orchid in bloompixnio/Public Domain

Another plant from the “Fighting Insomnia” file – orchids! Really? Really. Orchids, as well as succulents and bromeliads, improve air quality at night. Photosynthesis stops when the sun goes down, at which point most plants start absorbing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. However, orchids, succulents and bromeliads flip the script here and take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen once the sun goes down. Having them in the bedroom – or anywhere else you spend evening hours – can give you an extra dose of oxygen. And who doesn’t love oxygen?

Jade plant

Plants help improve healing. In fact, so effective are plants in helping surgery patients recover that one study recommends them as a “noninvasive, inexpensive, and effective complementary medicine for surgical patients.” The researchers found that patients with houseplants had lower systolic blood pressure, and lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue as compared to patients without plants in their rooms.

One super great all-around plant is the jade plant. It is generally included with the plants that help clear indoor air pollution, but it’s also just really beautiful with its thick shiny leaves and delicate blooms – I get a boost just from looking at one. But it may have a secret superpower as well. While I can’t cite a study on this one, in the practice of feng shui, jade plant is a good luck charm, symbolic of growth and renewal, and especially for bringing financial wealth. While we all know that money can’t buy happiness (or so they say), a little bump in the income certainly can’t hurt. And if the plant is lowering levels of pain, anxiety, and fatigue at the same time, it’s sure to be adding to one’s wellness, even if it’s not adding to their wallet.

Note: Just a reminder, if you have pets make sure that your houseplants are safe for them. See: 30 garden plants harmful to pets for more.

10 items I’ve bought at a thrift store

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There is great value to be found in second-hand shops.

I am a big fan of second-hand shopping, not only because it saves a lot of money, but also because it gives a new lease on life to older, unwanted items. This keeps resources in the ground and waste out of it, and that’s something we should all be striving to do more of.

So you can imagine my delight when I glimpsed Trent Hamm’s article called “12 things I’ve bought from second-hand stores in the past year” for The Simple Dollar. He, too, is a thrifting champion, and explained his list as a way to “give people the idea of what kind of value I find there.”

I do the same thing, divulging my latest finds with glee to friends and family. Often they’re surprised and doubtful, finding it hard to believe that such great stuff can be found at low prices, but inevitably tell me about their own visits to the thrift shop later on. Usually they’re thrilled by what they find, too.

The point of this is that second-hand stores are a treasure trove and should not be overlooked when you’re in the market for something. Whether you take Hamm’s approach and go only with a specific purpose, or if you’re like me and poke around just to see what’s there, you have nothing to lose by starting at a thrift store.

So, without further ado, here are 10 of the best second-hand items I’ve found in the past year (except for one, which remains my all-time greatest find from several years ago).

1. Bed sheets: Unless you want to spend hundreds of dollars on really nice, brand new bed sheets, a thrift store’s linen section can be surprisingly great. Think of all the linen closets that have to be emptied and donated when people downsize or pass away. You can find great 100 percent cotton sheets in pristine condition very easily.

2. Baking pans: I don’t think I’ve ever bought new baking pans because I can always find what I need at the thrift store. Just today, I picked up a glass pie plate for $1.25. In the past, I’ve found Pampered Chef baking pans and cookie sheets, as well as muffin tins, loaf pans, and glass 9×13 pans, probably for less than $20 in total.

3. Skates: You can’t survive a Canadian winter without skates, and since my kids’ feet grow at a rapid rate, the thrift store is the best place to shop. The hockey skates and figure skates that I find there are sufficient for our recreational purposes and cost under $5 apiece.

4. Down duvets: I have purchased two down-filled duvets in the past year, both immaculately white and unstained, for $15 each. Down duvets are not cheap when purchased new, and come with ethical concerns, so I was very happy to find these.

5. Leather jacket: I’d been looking for a second-hand leather jacket for years, not wanting to buy new for ethical and financial reasons, and suddenly I found it on a rack at Value Village. It fit perfectly and cost only $20. I wear it all the time.

secondhand shoppingUnsplash/Public Domain

Sleep sustainably with fair trade, organic cotton sheets

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Homestead is a California-based company that sells high-end ethical bedding at reasonable prices.

One childhood lesson that has stayed with me was my mother’s admonition only to use cotton bedsheets. This was disappointing when I was young; I didn’t get the Disney princess-themed sheets that my friends had, but instead I got crisp, smooth linens that never felt too hot or too cold. They were just right because, as my mom would say, they didn’t have any polyester in them.

Her rule has stayed with me through adulthood. I still do not buy sheets with polyester because they don’t breathe and they pill over time. My sheet collection is nice, but it’s not fancy, comprised mostly of clean but worn hand-me-downs from friends and second-hand finds.

This fall, however, my collection took a boost with the arrival of a package from Homestead, a company that specializes in gorgeous bedsheets made from fair trade, organic cotton. In one fell swoop, all my boxes were ticked — snowy-white cotton bedding that’s ethically made and as environmentally friendly as it comes.

Those sheets went onto my bed, and they haven’t come off it since, aside from washing. As soon as they’re dry, I put those sheets right back on the bed because I don’t want to use any others. Perhaps I’ve become spoiled, but I prefer to think of it as becoming aware of what a difference high-end, ethical construction can make.

woman with Homestead bedsheets© Jamie Barker for Homestead (used with permission)

15 houseplant looks we’re loving right now

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Find inspiration for adding some beautiful green to your space, and reap the benefits of living with houseplants at the same time.

It really should come as little surprise that houseplants are the workhorses of home decor. Trees basically keep the planet running – so it’s no wonder that their little foot soldiers, the houseplants, do a bang-up job of keeping things in order on the home front. They remove indoor air pollution, help deter illness, can improve sleep, boost your mood, and even help alleviate dry skin. (See more on these talents of theirs in the related stories below.)

Meanwhile, in this wonky modern world we live in … it’s just so nice to have some humble plants in our midst. They offer us city mice a nice connection to nature and provide a place for us to direct some low-maintenance nurturing. Easier than kids! Even easier than cats and dogs, even if houseplants don’t purr of fetch our slippers.

In terms of making them look good at home, it’s almost hard to go wrong. That said, there are a lot of ways to make them look fantastic. We’re finding inspiration from the following scenarios from Instagram, we hope you do as well.

Dream workspace!

Succulent splendor

Delicate greenery

Avocado grove

Elegant cascade

Dog forest

Man with a plan(t)

Pattern play

Magnificent monstera

Cornered

The photobomb

Peewee propigation

Kitty jungle

Lush life

Tiny owl forest