Saturday, May 31, 2008

What to do with Broken Electronics and other Hazardous Waste in DC

This is good news!

According to the Washington Post:

Hazardous Waste Disposal

District residents can dispose of hazardous waste and electronics by bringing them to the Benning Road Trash Transfer Station every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Weekly document shredding services also are available at the site, 3200 Benning Rd. NE.

Previously, such recycling was done twice a year, in spring and fall. Officials said weekly collection will enable residents to get rid of dangerous items faster, which will keep the environment and drinking water safer.

Acceptable items for disposal include leftover cleaning and gardening chemicals, small quantities of gasoline, pesticides and poisons, mercury thermometers, paint, solvents, spent batteries, antifreeze, chemistry sets, automotive fluids and asbestos tiles. Electronics, such as computers, televisions and cellphones, will be broken down and recycled or disposed of safely.

For more information, visit or call the citywide call center at 311.

Friday, May 30, 2008

More on Diamonds . . .

Here is a great story about the marketing campaign that DeBeers launched to promote diamonds in the 1930s and about the diamond industry in general from journalist Edward Jay Epstein (don't worry, it is an interesting read):

He writes: "In its 1947 strategy plan, the advertising agency strongly emphasized a psychological approach. "We are dealing with a problem in mass psychology. We seek to ... strengthen the tradition of the diamond engagement ring -- to make it a psychological necessity capable of competing successfully at the retail level with utility goods and services...." It defined as its target audience "some 70 million people 15 years and over whose opinion we hope to influence in support of our objectives." N. W. Ayer outlined a subtle program that included arranging for lecturers to visit high schools across the country. "All of these lectures revolve around the diamond engagement ring, and are reaching thousands of girls in their assemblies, classes and informal meetings in our leading educational institutions," the agency explained in a memorandum to De Beers. The agency had organized, in 1946, a weekly service called "Hollywood Personalities," which provided 125 leading newspapers with descriptions of the diamonds worn by movie stars. And it continued its efforts to encourage news coverage of celebrities displaying diamond rings as symbols of romantic involvement.In 1947, the agency commissioned a series of portraits of "engaged socialites." The idea was to create prestigious "role models" for the poorer middle-class wage-earners. The advertising agency explained, in its 1948 strategy paper, "We spread the word of diamonds worn by stars of screen and stage, by wives and daughters of political leaders, by any woman who can make the grocer's wife and the mechanic's sweetheart say 'I wish I had what she has.'" Read more here.

In case you're interested . . .

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Diamonds: A Girl's Best Friend . . . or, Frenemy?

Some full disclosure: I love diamonds. They mesmerize me. I have caught myself staring at a random woman's ring finger many a time. I love how diamonds sparkle in the lowest of light (the lower light, the better, actually). I love how little rainbows almost zoom out and about - in my mind's eye, it is almost magical. Really.

Although the modern obsession with diamonds was, as is often told, created by DeBeers in a really impressive marketing campaign in the 1940s, diamonds have been valued for many centuries all over the world. I recently bought a Russian language book (getting in touch with my cultural heritage) about the treasures of the czars in Russia. Holy Toledo, did they have some sparkly things!

The Great Imperial Crown was made for the Empress Catherine II the Great's Coronation in 1762. The crown is set with 5,000 selected Indian diamonds (some Russian sources state this number as 4,836) and and number fine, large white pearls.

And another crown.

This is a portrait of Catherine the Great . . . just dripping with diamonds.

This is a great website for more information on famous diamonds throughout history.

Alas, we all have heard about the problem with diamonds - Leonardo DiCaprio's movie, Blood Diamond, brought mainstream attention to the issue of "conflict diamonds". Specifically, the issue is that diamonds have been used as currency to fund brutal conflicts - esp. in Africa. The Kimberley Process, which has been promoted as a way to make sure that consumers get conflict-free gems, is actually a process that is regulated by the diamond industry itself - by people who profit off of diamond sales. On one hand, it makes sense for them to focus on this process - many activists and organizations have called on the diamond industry to take more responsibility for the impacts of the diamond industry on mining countries. But, then again, many consumers could care less. Most people don't even think about it and jewelry sellers respond in kind. If you walked into a local jewelry store and asked them what proof they had about the origin of their diamonds, most stores wouldn't give you a good answer. However, the process is a great start toward using diamonds to help the people who mine them. But, many say that it is almost impossible to guarantee where a diamond is coming from b/c many are smuggled out of countries to be sold on the world market. It kind of makes sense. They are small, easily hidden.

What do you think? I am not comfortable with the situation enough to feel good about purchasing a new diamond (and I am hoping to be purchasing a diamond soon . . . cross my fingers). Although, I might be swayed by Brilliant Earth, a company that sells only conflict-free diamonds — mining them from Canada, where a third party regulates, monitors, and tracks the gems.

Also, I thought a post from Wendy Brandes, a jewelry designer who writes a very entertaining blog, was informative on the whole issue (but remember, she is a jewelry designer who uses diamonds in her designs). Find it here. The one thing that I disagree with her about is the issue of "vintage" diamonds. If you buy a vintage diamond, you are not fueling any new conflict or war. Plus, although there were probably many atrocities happening in diamond mining 25 years ago, they didn't have the kind of guns they do now. And definitely not 45 years ago. Or 70 years ago. (Although we must remember that the simple machete created lasting damage in the Sierra Leone war.)

On to happier thoughts. So what are you going to do if you love pretty, sparkly diamond things, but your conscience is telling you "no, no. no!"? Well, I just came across the Ross Simmons Estate Jewelry site and it is great. There are some beautiful pieces from a range of decades - 1900s to 1990s - and a wide range of prices. You can click on any of the pictures for a close-up. And the best part - they are all pre-owned, so no new resources are going into the mining and manufacturing of your ring (and no new conlficts being funded). Very green chic. Here are some of my favorites:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fitter. Faster. Better.

Why I bike.

  1. two words: tighter ass.
  2. I get to wear really tight pants and no one thinks its outrageous
  3. zero carbon emissions (and better than nuclear)
  4. biking to work gets the head going much faster than coffee
  5. feels like flying . . . whheeeeeeeeeee!
  6. I can scare tourist drivers by riding too close - watch out, you Lexus from Ohio! (please don't try this at home)
  7. no more pesky fatty areas above my knees
  8. absolutely, positively, the fastest way to get around DC
  9. "hill therapy" to deal with anger issues and uncooperative boyfriends
  10. no need to look for parking, have change for the bus, wait for a taxicab, or deal with the sweaty guy in the metro train (ick.)
  11. safety first. Harder to get mugged at 15 miles an hour.
  12. I no longer fear you, extra bite of dessert!! Bwahahahahaha!
  13. Critical Mass. Every 1st Friday. Dupont Circle. 6 PM.

Ride a bike today! : )

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

This Makes Me Happy!

For no other reason than this makes me happy (via the new Bits and Bobbins tumblr site).

Yeondoo Jung is a Korean artist and in 2005 he did a project called "Wonderland" where he re-created children's drawings. A few are below. Click here for more. I think this is just so brilliant.

I often have very vivid, colorful dreams and it would be fun to re-create them in real life like this.

Ebay Love

My most recent acquisition:

Since I do hope to become fully employed soon and will have to appear in an office setting (actually around other people!!), I have been keeping an eye out for outfits that are apropos. Dresses are perfect for summer in DC (and for biking to work - just one piece to carry). I found this lovely "I Love Lucy" vintage frock on Ebay for $9.99!! I plan to wear it with a lime or fuchsia silk belt and fun shoes. I think it will look good with a tan.

On an unrelated note . . . I am always the last to know! One of my favorite bands, Nickel Creek, is no longer. This makes me very sad! They were so awesome. Click below to hear one of the most romantic songs ever (player widget takes a second to pop up)!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Exciting DC Style Blogger News

This morning, Ms. Spinach had some interesting photos on her blog. Here is one:

Look, there, fourth from the right . . . could it be? Might it be? Oh, yes! It is Ms. A Serious Job is No Excuse (and P.S. - go to her site NOW to see her awesome new platinum blond hair. Seriously.) This is a promo shot for a new reality show about fashion magazine writers - how perfect. I can't wait until it starts. DC is finally going to make its debut, yo!! Luckily, the debut is being helmed by a very fashionable, sharp, smart and attractive blogger.

(Although, I am a little concerned about the second photo - why are they carrying trays of food? Doesn't look good.)

More on the show:

"Get in gear for Wednesday nights full of fashion on The CW Network this Fall. Stylista, being toted as a reality version of The Devil Wears Prada, will see the light of day this Fall as a companion piece to Tyra Banks’ America’s Next Top Model. Stylista follows eleven fashion mavens as they vie for a shot at an editorial job with Elle Magazine. Each episode features the fashionistas carrying out an assistant’s task and a fashion editorial assignment in a series of style-related challenges.

Contestants will work as assistants to Elle’s fashion news director, Anne Slowey. Anne will fire one person each week until the last assistant is left standing.

Stylista’s $100,000 grand prize package includes an editorial position at Elle Magazine, a paid lease on a Manhattan apartment, and a one year clothing allowance at H&M."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Busy Bees and Honey Bees

First to the busy bee. That would be me. This week is absolutely crazy and, I am sorry to say, there probably won't be any more posts for the rest of the week. Here are some of the things on my plate:

- Finishing up the first tranche of companies for my other blog: The Good, the Bad and the Tacky. (It is part of a project I need to finish for school.)
- Getting ready for my parents' visit for Graduation this weekend (read: serious house cleaning).
- Getting ready for a round of second interviews (cross your fingers).
- Getting ready for an awesome community yard sale on Saturday morning in Bloomingdale. We will have all kinds of goodies. I will be selling some vintage clothing (I will definitely post some pix later this week - there is a bright yellow suit and a gorgeous tailored dress-coat with flowers all over it), furniture, home decor, etc. Get details here. And PLEASE come by!! (PS - my boyfriend will be selling many bike parts and accessories, if you are into that whole thing.) Here is the location. (Crispus Attucks Park). 8Am - 2PM on Saturday, 5/17.

And on to the honey bees. Did you know that honey bees are dying out all over the place and that no one really knows why? Even if you don't like honey, you should pay attention to this. Honey bees pollinate fruit, vegetable, tree nut and berry crops - yep, no matter how advanced our agricultural technologies get, we still need to depend on the little honey bee to get things started. Some beekeepers say that they have already lost one-half to two-thirds of their colonies to what researchers are calling "colony collapse disorder" (CCD). Although you may not think that you can do anything to help the bees in such an urban area as DC, you can!! Here are a few suggestions:

1 - Don't kill the bees! Acquaint yourself with what a honey bee looks like versus yellow jacket wasps, etc. More on this here. Here is some visual guidance (but you shouldn't really kill the wasps either as many of them kill the insect pests that often eat up your plants):

Honeybee (left).................................................................... Yellow Jacket Wasp (right)

2 - Plant some helpful flowers: Honey bees need good flowers. If you have a patch of yard or even just room for some pots, plant the following: Rhododendron, Honeysuckle, Sunflower, Butterfly Bush, Pineapple Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Poppy, Calendula, Shasta Daisy, Lance-Leaved Coreopsis, Plains Coreopsis, Purple Coneflower and Sweet William Catchfly. For more suggestions (like honey bee friendly trees), look here and here.

3 - Support organic agriculture: Buy produce from farmers that don't use chemical pesticides on their crops. Bees fly around and gather nectar and pollen from various plants that they then turn into honey. If those plants have been treated with pesticides and insecticides, then there is much more chance that the bees will be negatively affected or even killed.

4 - Don't use pesticides/insecticides on in your garden/on your grass: For the same reasons as above.

5 - Buy local honey: Instead of buying honey from South America (where most supermarket honey comes from), support your local beekeepers. They need your help now more than ever!! Dupont Farmer's market has a stand as do many of the other neighborhood farmer's markets. Here is an article from the Washington Post on local honey producers from whom you might be able to order on-line.

6 - Donate to research:
- UC Davis Honeybee Research
Penn State's Entomology Department
- Pollinator Partnership


Friday, May 9, 2008

One Reason I Might Consider Going into a Target Again

Rogan Gregory has been tapped as the latest designer for Target's GO International.

Gregory, a former Gap designer who won the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award for 2008, helms three labels: ethical T-shirt label EDUN which he runs with Bono's wife Ali Hewson, Loomstate, an all-organic line of t-shirts and jeans, and his own edgier line Rogan.

His goal was to bring organic cotton and other sustainable fabrics "to the masses" - meaning at a lower price point than his other lines. I know that EDUN focuses heavily on fair sourcing (i.e., no sweatshops), but I wonder how Gregory worked with Target on sourcing for his line since most of their clothing products are manufactured in China (and we all know China is a bit, shall we say, nonchalant about worker's rights, the environment, um . . . FREE TIBET, anyone?).

On the other hand, I think that it is important for large retailers like Target to buy into the organic and sustainable fiber market - creating more demand will motivate more growers to transition to organic or add organic options to their crops, which will increase supply and decrease the price (and make the world a better place to boot). Organic cotton is more expensive than regular cotton because of the way it is cultivated and harvested. Basically, it is grown without the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers, so you have to take very good care of it as it grows and cultivate the soil naturally in between harvests.

The Rogan line will be available May 15th. Here is a preview of some of the looks (via Fashion Windows).

Um , is not wearing a bra part of the look? Otherwise, I kind of like the gray tank over an animal print mini. Good for summer. And a tan. And after a few weeks at the gym. To the treadmill!!
Ah, not really enthused about this outfit. The leggings are striped, if you can 't tell. I don't know about you, but Lindsay Lohan ruined leggings for me forever.

More animal prints. More treadmill.
I love this look - just simple and modern. Good for the city.
An eco-friendly little black (or is it a dark slate?) dress. I think it might actually be flattering on many different body types, too. Bonus points to outfits that look good on anyone else besides 55 lb. models.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hey You!! Mother's Day is This Weekend . . . Hurry!

This is me and my mum. Look at our outfits! This was clearly the 70s. But, seriously, I look goooood in my suede skirt and red mary-jane sneakers. And my mum . . . who knew plaid and tie-dye could look so stylish? And you know, I totally have socks like that even at this age!!

Good times.

My mum has always been very fashionable and style conscious. She likes Ralph Lauren and, more recently, Lilly Pulitzer. I have been surrounded by Vogue magazines since the beginning of time.

My mother has always loved fashion. Maybe this wouldn't be such an amazing fact for someone born and raised in, say, Ohio, but my mother grew up in Soviet Russia, where, until only about a decade ago, there was nothing much in terms of fashion.

She has all kinds of stories about how, as teenagers, they would get European fashion magazines from visiting diplomats or when Communist-party parents would travel abroad. They would take the magazines to local seamstresses and the women would sew the outfits based on the photos. But the fabrics that were available would be different, so the outfit would always be just a bit "off". I remember one story about when my mother was very young, and, as a child of a high government official, had the privilege of attending an international camp for kids. Her roommate was French and had colored stockings - something my mother had never seen before in real life. I think her roommate ended up giving her a pair of her stockings and she loved them so much! I treasure these stories. They make me quite sad, but I also see them as a a reflection of how much color my mum has on the inside, which was able to shine through to her gray surroundings. And still does to this day.

In any case, have you sent anything to your mom for mother's day? I sent my mum these gorgeous eco-friendly tulips from Organic Bouquet.

They were Veriflora certified, which means that all growers and handlers met rigorous performance criteria in the following areas before being awarded the Veriflora certification:
  • sustainable crop production
  • ecosystem protection
  • fair labor practices
  • community benefits
  • product quality
Hurry! There are only a few days left.

Looks for Less . . . um, environmental destruction?

I like all those sites that tell you how to get the "look for less". But, what about the "look for less environmental impact"? Buying vintage or secondhand is SO THE WAY TO GO. I trolled the internet to bring you some proof that new styles don't have to come from new clothes. Click on item pics to be taken to bid/buy sites.

Kate Hudson

Oh, Katie! I love all that leg you're showing! Is it for Owen? He's cute - even with that broken nose. (Style note: A heel in the color of your skin tone makes your legs look longer.)

Vintage paisley polyester dress from Etsy. $15.

Vintage belt from Ebay. Made in France. Bid on it or "Buy it NOW" for $19.99.

Vintage snakeskin beige heels are from Etsy. Size 7. $28.

Charlize Theron

Charlize is just such a classic beauty. I love this simple spring look with a dash of yellow on a bare leg.

Fully-lined vintage trench coat from Ebay. Bid on it or "Buy it Now" for $59.99.

Vintage yellow shoes from Ebay. Size 9. (Wait, that's my size!!) Bidding starts at $9.99.

Gwyneth Paltrow

I have always thought that Gwyneth was a bit of a snob (at least she seemed that way from her interviews - perhaps she was different in real life. I mean, I never had coffee with her or anything). However, she seems to have chilled out after having her two kids. Here she is at one of the premiers of her new movie, "Iron Man". (Which, btw, I saw opening night and highly recommend. But, obviously, only if you think movies based on comic books aren't complete rubbish. )

Vintage lace dress from Ebay. Small-med. Bids currently at $9.99. Comes with a black slip not shown.

Vintage Oscar de la Renta tuxedo jacket from Ebay. Current bid at $17.95.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Thoughts on Shopping: Shop Like You Mean It

Yesterday was my 100th post. Last week, as I approached the 100th mark, I thought that I wanted that post to be meaningful and thought about what I would write. Little did I know how meaningful it would really be.

Life is. . . well, it just is. And we just are.

Yesterday was a very reflective day for me, for obvious reasons. After starting to pull together Samson photos to make into a photo-book (one of those cool, bound ones that you can order nowadays), I got myself out of the house to run an errand and meet a friend to talk about a job. It was a lovely day and I was lucky to be able to bike around. I also had a strong urge to go shopping. And have a beer. (I am actually having a beer right now. Yes, I know it is noon, but, whatever. I'm in mourning - I'm allowed. Um, its also that our refrigerator is broken, so I am trying to get through all the things that might go bad before the repair-person gets here later in the week. I thought I would start with the beer. I think it is a good strategy.)

Shopping has always been a distraction for me. Assuage the nervousness of a date with a new top. Divert the anxiety of an interview with a new suit. Spend an hour in Filene's looking for . . . um, well . . . anything that fits, really. A slight emotional lift to a bad day, bad relationship, bad interview . . . Like a caffeine jolt on a tired morning, shopping has always served to get me through that emotional dip. Plus, I thought, "well, life sucks. But at least I look good." Having a bunch of credit cards made it easy peasy - delayed consequences.

I think its easy to get carried away with this emotional correlation. "Buying stuff makes me feel good." I think it also ties into why we are having so many issues in the world these days. Why there is so much waste. Why Americans save less than any other country in the world and have the highest debt.

Therefore, I offer up the following: being an eco-friendly fashionista first starts with a deep, hard look at yourself. Buying even eco-friendly things is still very taxing on the environment. And if you are constantly hitting the thrift and vintage stores (which is the BEST way to go, by far), perhaps you are still not dealing with some of the emotions you should be dealing with, but are delaying that pain, crying, healing, leaving, trying, quitting, moving on and moving out . . . even if you did just score an awesome DVF wrap dress that was actually made in the USA in the 70s . . . So, OMG, I would be so jealous.

Anyway, I'm just saying. I don't mean to be a downer. But maybe we have given shopping a role in our lives that is counter-productive to our success as people. (And maybe this is my official disclaimer, since I do suggest that you buy stuff on this blog.)

For me, this past year of scraping to pay the mortgage, while paying for school and not having a job, has served to put a serious dent in my shopping habits. But, that's not the only motivation for this sort of shopping self-reflection. Buying stuff because you don't want to deal is dumb. Self-awareness is hard-won . . . and may even help you save money (like, for a trip to some amazing, sandy destination where the men are lovely and the pace is slow). Just think about it. (And yes, flying to some far-flung destination may or may not actually create more greenhouse gas emissions than buying a pair of shoes, but I postulate that you will grow more from the experience.)

As for me, I headed to Filene's yesterday (hey, full disclosure). My budget is slim, but I needed a distraction - I just didn't want to go home yet to see the empty spot where Sammy's food bowl used to be. I ended up with a Penguin striped long-sleeved t-shirt. I had been looking for a striped long-sleeved t shirt, so I had a good excuse to buy it - it had been part of my plan (conveniently, also acting as a distraction) . I did put away all those other pieces that I tried on.

So, I guess my closing thoughts are: shop like you mean it. Know what you need to fill out your wardrobe. Be strategic. Maintain a well-edited closet. Know what looks good on your body. Don't buy crap that you don't really need/that you will never wear. Don't shop when you are upset. KNOW when you are upset. Be aware of the internal intricacies of your amazing, complex person. Don't make shopping a pastime - there are far more interesting pastimes than that. And, for heaven's sake, if you are in debt as a result of your shopping habits . . . well, maybe it is time to take another look at what is going on inside, girl. And besides, conserving resources (including $$) and making due with what you already have is THE NEW BLACK. I wouldn't lie to you.

Good luck, y'all.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

off topic . . .

This is my dog, Samson. He passed on last night. I am very sad.


Friday, May 2, 2008

A Night at Barney's with Philip Lim and DC Fashion Bloggers

Well, okay, Philip Lim was not actually there . . . but many pieces from his "Go Green Go" collection were, featuring organic cottons, natural dyes, and at least an effort to reduce emissions from transportation (as was stated on the tag - although everything was still imported, but at least there is an awareness).

And we were at Barney's (make that, Georgetown Barney's Co-op) with champagne and itsy cupcakes (which you could, if you really wanted to, pop in your mouth whole - although it would have looked rather strange, but was still physically plausible) from Firehook Bakery, a locally-owned bakery. All hosted by Washington Post's style Newsletter, DC Scout. And, hee hee, I was invited as "Press".

To top it off, I finally got to meet Betsy from Fashion is Spinach and Rachel from Project Beltway and the very sweet author of DCCeline (who is also a mom!!), whose name I scribbled on a piece of paper to offset my very poor short-term memory . . . and promptly lost. (Sorry, DC Celine! BTW, I loved your shoes and forgot to mention. You should post a pic!) And, although I didn't meet her, I saw Morgan, who writes Pandahead and she was teeny! Very petite and very cute. She was rocking a colorful dress under a little black jacket. It would have been nice to chat, but she was leaving as I arrived (late, as usual, and a bit sweaty from my bike ride to Georgetown).

Conveniently for my plans for the evening, Betsy is model thin and model tall (although she seems very pixie-ish on her blog . . . and she actually seems very pixie-ish in person, except like a very tall pixie) and laid-back to boot so when I asked her if she was willing to undress and try on some of Philip Lim's collection for me to photograph, she obliged. Now, mind you, I am not a professional fashion photographer and she is not a professional model (though she could be!), but I think we did okay with the pix! (Check them out below).

About the "green" fashion at Barney's: I think we both commented that green fashion was at this stage of development where designers were trying to convince consumers that they don't have to wear a hemp sack to be "green" - however, some of Philip Lim's pieces were sort of . . . um, shapeless. Not exactly like a sack, but not exactly tailored. Betsy also tried on a Theory organic linen dress, that we "shaped" up with a belt - but, overall, I think the trapeze shape works best with color or patterns. [Note: try not to look at the prices if you balk at spending three digits on clothing.]

But, most importantly (um, or not), this is what I wore:

Vintage butterfly shirt ($18) from Annie Creamcheese; high-waist Philosophy skirt from Filene's; shoes from some little store in Paris, which I bought about 10 years ago, back when the US dollar actually got you something in Europe. You can't see it very well in the photo, but the sleeves are a bit sheer (and so was the back) and I have fun light green eye shadow on. The shoes were such a hit at the party! I was stopped several times about the shoes and was even told by a couple of ladies that I had won their "best shoes contest of the night". Who knew.

Betsy in Philip Lim's "Go Green Go" organic cotton gown. ($995.00) Beautiful!!

Philip Lim "sailor" dress ($370). We paired it over a Rag and Bone skinny knit dress ($225)

Theory Organic Cotton Tunic ($295). Hollywood Trading Company belt ($375). I so wanted to go home with that belt - if it was exactly $300 dollars less. Oh well.

More thoughts on the event (with swag recap) and more about Barney's "green" efforts later in the day or over the weekend.

And many thanks to Betsy for posing!

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