Thursday, October 30, 2008

Top Ten

Tonight, I had the pleasure of doing a bit of shopping with my mom, since I'm home for a few days. As we looked through the racks of clothing, I caught myself repeatedly saying, "That would look great with..." and every time, the end of the sentence was a staple in my closet. I decided that today's post would be about the ten things that have a permanent place in my closet.

1. Dark wash Honey bootcut Joe's Jeans (Dress 'em up, dress 'em down, they work in so many situations.)
2. Ralph Lauren white button down shirt (I've had this shirt since I was a freshman in college. Almost a decade later, it's still getting more wear than anything else I own.)
3. Pale blue Polo oxford shirt (Mine was a hand-me-down and it's still kickin'.)
4. Sperry Topsiders (In original brown, of course!)
5. Coach Jenni sunglasses in tortoiseshell (I think they quit making these, so I treasure the pair I bought in NYC.)
6. Polo boots (I can't say enough great things about these boots! They're made for sport so they can take a lot of wear and tear and they still look great. In fact, they look better as they age!)
7. Brooks Brothers quarter-zip sweater (I have one in tan and one in blue. These were both great finds on ebay.)
8. LLBean mongorammed backpack in navy (Because there are days when a totebag just won't cut it.)
9. Pearls. (A small set is nice for everyday wear.)
10. A vintage scarf used as a headband. (Seriously, I wear this one all the time!)

So what are your favorite staples?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Reduce, Reuse, Refinish

Trying to figure out what to do with that old piece of furniture that you love so much? You know, the one that's seen its better days? Yep, that's the one! How about refinishing it in an eco-friendly fashion? It's a fact that, on the whole, furniture was more well made 20 years ago. There's a reason those priceless antiques are still around. It's because they were made to hang in there, come what may.

**Picture credit to

This article on eco-friendly furniture refinishing will guide you through the process of restoring a fabulous old piece while still being good to the earth. The antique pieces in my house are certainly my favorites because they all have such wonderful stories!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ecology...Fashion that Makes Sense

Every once in a while, I come across something that's so fantastic I just have to share it! Last month, I spent a bit more time in Nashville (can you tell it's one of my favorite cities?) and I had the fortune of happening upon the most fabulous little eco-friendly clothing shoppe. Ecology is in a league of its own when it comes to green fashion in the area. The store stocks some of today's best eco-friendly labels like Sameunderneath, Stewart+Brown, Of the Earth, Deborah Lindquist and Ryann Co.

The store's owner, Laurel Staples, is committed to keeping Ecology 100% green and her devotion to eco-friendliness is evident as soon as you walk into the cute little store on Hillsboro Pike. Next time you're in Music City, pay Ecology a visit. You'll be glad you did!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Preppy Icon of the Day

I've been thinking a lot about the preppy icons that inspire me and I've decided to post a "Preppy Icon of the Day" every time I think about it. The first Preppy Icon of the Day is the classically elegant Audrey Hepburn. Audrey's casual style of a button down shirt paired with capri pants and ballet flats is as current today as it was in her day.

**Photo credit: Norman Parkinson

If you've not seen Roman Holiday, Funny Face or Paris When it Sizzles, run out and rent them now! These three films are among Audrey's greatest work.

Though she was fabulous in every role she played, Audrey's most meaningful work was not onscreen. Her heart was as big as her talent and she was appointed as a UNICEF Ambassador in 1989, a post she held until her death in 1993.

From UNICEF's website:
"I can testify to what UNICEF means to children, because I was among those who received food and medical relief right after World War II," said actress Audrey Hepburn on her appointment as a Goodwill Ambassador in 1989. "I have a long-lasting gratitude and trust for what UNICEF does." As a result of her work for UNICEF over subsequent years, that gratitude is mutual.

So today, we celebrate Audrey Hepburn as both a preppy icon and an inspiring humanitarian.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What's Your (Needle)Point?

As I've mentioned before, a fabulous way to be eco-friendly is to invest in things that will last a long time.

Needlepoint accesories are timeless and well made, which sets them up to last as long as you can use them. I love Smathers & Branson belts, especially this starfish number.

In addition to belts, S&B sells key fobs, dog collars, and cummerbunds. There's also a set of belts for the kiddies, as well as collegiate collection belts.

Tucker Blair also makes great needlepoint belts, flip flops (coming soon) and headbands. I love this striped headband.

I LOVE belts and I LOVE pillows, so this fabulous needlepoint pillow from Jonathan Adler is right up my alley!

So what's my (needle)point? Invest wisely in your accessories and you'll reap long term returns.

Pristine Planet

I posted recently about the UK's Eco-Monkey, a site that evaluates the green-ness of an assortment of goods. Today, I came across Pristine Planet, a site quite similar to Eco-Monkey. Pristine Planet is a great place to find a variety of eco-friendly items from a bunch of retailers all in one place.

The Short End of the Deal

Fair Indigo has these adorable fair-trade twill shorts on clearance right now.

They also come in white and they're only $9.75. Yes, I'm serious. I'll say it again. $9.75.

If you want to get ahead on your shopping for next summer (or if you live either on an island or in Florida), head over to their website and pick up a pair or two.

The Bag is Here!!!

The Battenkill duffel bag arrived yesterday and to quote Rachel Zoe,




Actually, in my head, I hear Bonnie Hunt impersonating Rachel Zoe. But the bag is amazing, just the same. I can't wait to use it next week!!!

I would also be remiss if I didn't tell you about the fantastic staff at Brookings, where I got the bag. They're super nice and if they have to get back to you on something, they get back to you right away. I HIGHLY recommend them!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm Flipping Over These!!!

It's no longer flip flop season...but it should be! As a HUGE fan of flip flops, I think a lot about what happens to the hundreds of thousands of pairs of drugstore flip flops that are picked off the shelf and purchased for $4.99 or less every year. Can you imagine that huge pile of flops sitting in the landfill at the end of every summer? While teaching English overseas, Kyle Berner discovered a solution. He came across biodegradable and recyclable flip flops.

Feelgoodz flops are made of 100% biodegradable rubber. Seriously? Yessireee, you bet!!! The flops come in lots of great colors and make great shoes for hanging out or shower shoes if you happen to live in a dormitory. And when you're done with them? Chunk them in the recycle bin!

MAJOR thanks to my eco-preppy mom for discovering these!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Flattened Out

It's great when you find a shoe that is both attractive and earth friendly. While I'm not a big fan of the bulkier hiking boot styles of the Timberland shoe line, they have recently brought out some cute flats.

The Kroa loafer is cute, comes in a couple colors, and is on sale right now:

The Baldaci Ballerina makes a great about-the-city shoe and is also on sale:

I greatly admire Timberland's commitment to corporate social responsibility and their mission to truly make a difference. What a great model for other companies to follow!

Eco-Monkeying Around

The UK's Eco-Monkey site is one of my favorite new discoveries!

The site, which researches and rates products on their green-ness, offers points for each purchase and items with higher green ratings yield more points. The points can be exchanged for goodies like Amazon gift cards. While I have yet to join Eco-Monkey or purchase anything through them, I do find that it's a fantastic resource for gauging a company's eco-friendliness. I can't wait for us to get a similar site stateside!

Back to Basics II

A couple days ago, I posted on preppy staples made from natural and organic fabrics. Today, a friend introduced me to Bergman's, a Swedish company that has been making clothing from organic pima cotton since 1986. Though Bergman's goodies are relatively high-end, the concept is right on target.

For the guys, they have oxford button downs:

and sweaters:

No, sadly, you cannot order the model. I checked.

And for the ladies, they have a slimmer cut oxfords:

and sweaters:

Bergman's also has a selection of khakis and polos for men and women, as well as basics like tshirts.

Share The Warmth

Do you have an old coat for which you have no more use? Donate it! Have your kiddies outgrown last year's snuggly warm jackets and parkas? Donate them! Every year, as temperatures drop, people of all ages are coatless and cold. Donating your coat to a group like One Warm Coat (or a similar group in your area) can help keep someone a bit warmer this winter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Longevity... A Fine Investment

Most people think that the only way to go green is to buy only things that are made of natural and organic materials and are biodegradable. Another fantastic way to green up is to invest smartly in things that will last for many many years. If you buy an item that lasts five, ten or twenty years, you're saved from buying more of the same item and using more resources. Smart buying takes some research, however. Smart buys must be timeless and of high quality to be able to last.

Occasionally, I come across a company that makes exceptional products that I feel will stand the test of time, both because of their timelessness and their exceptional quality. One such company I've recently discovered is Grass Court Collection out of Hanover, NH.

The Collection makes some of the finest tennis and yacht club apparel around today. Proprietor Reid Babcox has done a fantastic job of selecting things that are easy to wear now and in the years to come and are made to the highest quality specifications. GCC stands behind every item they sell and provide a 100% guarantee. When you're thinking about going green, think outside the box and into the future. A smart investment in a quality piece of merchandise is a great way to eco-outfit yourself!

Little Brother Knows Best

Yesterday evening, I was chatting with RPD via instant messenger and we were talking about serious things...politics, the state of the world, the youth of America and so on. The conversation reached a lull and I decided to tell him about the awful nightmare I'd had the night before (still really scary, still trying to figure it out) to steer away from the heavy territory we'd gotten ourselves into. As always, his comedic timing was perfect and spot on. I've been laughing about this ever since.

AJD (5:09:49 PM): I had a HORRIBLE dream last night.
RPD (5:10:04 PM): Your shoes didn't match your belt?

Haha, wow. Ouch.

Belt it Out!

Silk is generally regarded as a "green material" and I've come across these 100% silk belts from Nantucket Brand.

They've got belts for the ladies:

and belts for the gents:

Belts for guys and gals are only $14.95 each and they've got lots of other cute items as well!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

I just posted about the fabulousness that is hessnatur, but I can't stop looking at their website!!! I LOVE this midlength wool coat:

and I can't get over the cuteness of this short cardigan:

This website could quite possibly be my new favorite clothing site!

Back to Basics

The Official Preppy Handbook set out to convince the world that "it is the inalienable right of every man, woman and child to wear khaki." Now, you can do it the green way! A great company called hessnatur is offering lots of basics in organic cotton and other natural eco-friendly fabrics.

The khakis are a simple basic cut

and would look nice paired with the classic white shirt

and the cute winter sweater for colder weather.

The company also sells a nice quarter-zip

and a super cute wool tweed coat!

They also have basics for kids and babies. Sadly, there's no collection for men, but hopefully that is coming soon! Get back to basics and give hessnatur a look!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dress for Success

I often consider the options for the best use of clothing that I am doing away with and I've found a wonderful organization that puts corporate wear (a glorified name for grown-up business clothes) to great use by giving it to disadvantaged women who desire to have a job. The process is continual as they receive one suit for the interview process and then additional wardrobe pieces upon receipt of a job offer. If you've recently changed sizes or if you just don't love some of the suits or other professional apparel in your closet as much as you once did, Dress for Success will gladly take them!

From their website:
The mission of Dress for Success is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

Dress for Success serves clients by referral only, and women must have an interview scheduled before receiving clothing. Our clients come to us from a continually expanding and diverse group of non-profit and government agencies including homeless shelters, immigration services, job training programs, educational institutions and domestic violence shelters, among many other organizations. More than 2,750 organizations throughout the world send women to Dress for Success for professional apparel and career development services.

On her initial visit a woman receives a suit appropriate for the industry in which she is interviewing and, if available, accessories. After a woman finds a job she returns to Dress for Success for additional clothing that can be mixed and matched to make several outfits, providing her with the foundation for a professional wardrobe.
So if you come across a few things that could help this most wonderful organization, call your local Dress for Success affiliate and help a deserving woman get the apparel she needs to interview for a job.

Get Carried Away

It's rare that I buy something pricey for myself when I don't desperately need it. But, when I do buy something with a hefty price tag, I do the economical, ecological and sensible thing and make sure it's going to last me for a long long long time. Tonight, I did exactly that as I was searching for a tasteful duffel bag that would satisfy airline requirements for carry-on luggage (does anybody check a bag anymore?) and would stand the test of time.

So, I searched and I searched and I read review after review. Some of the pretty bags got poor reviews, and some of the well-reviewed bags were not so lovely (and that's putting it politely), some were too masculine, some were too frilly and feminine, but there was no happy medium. That is, until I found the Orvis Battenkill duffel bag.

The reviews were terrific! One after another satisfied customer went on and on about the quality of the Battenkill duffel. One man bought his in 1984 and has since added more than 10 additional Battenkill pieces to his collection. Another woman has taken hers to a number of different countries and the bag still looks new. There were tales of the bag's trips through airports near and far, on the back of motorcycles, on business trips and camping trips, on treks through the wide open and to the neighbor's house for a sleepover. I decided that if one bag can do all of that then THAT is the bag I wanted.

I got the smaller of the two, which is still pretty roomy. The large bag seemed like it would be too overwhelming once I put my things in it. My new treasure is on its way from Brookings out of North Carolina. I did some searching and Brookings had the lowest price on the duffel. They also offer free shipping! On everything in their store!!! Orvis offers personalization of the bag on their site, so if you buy it from another Orvis dealer (like Brookings), you're on your own with the monogramming. I do think that small subtle block initials might be a nice touch on the bag.

One last note: Both duffle and duffel are correct. After consulting three dictionaries and an English major, I can finally rest easier knowing that neither is the more appropriate spelling.

Now, to monogram or not to monogram? That is the question.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Low Cost Eco-Luxury

If you're looking for eco-luxury on a budget, as so many of us are in such economic uncertainty, try the Pinzon French Garden Duvet.

The price ranges from $40.29 to $59.73 and, surprisingly, the king size is cheaper than the full/queen size!

Stripes on Sunday

Unplugged Label for Green's tonal stripe cap-sleeve tee couldn't be cuter. Or cheaper! At only $4.99, it comes in pale pink:

and mint green:

Both shirts are available at Greener Goodz.

Treat Your Ears

My dear friends Kaci Bolls and Steven Lee Olsen are two of Nashville's finest songwriters. Check out their music by clicking on their names and if you're in the Nashville area, catch a show. You won't be sorry!!!

Green Sailing? Maybe.

BVI Guides has a great article on environmentally friendly sailing. The author does a great job of balancing the tradeoffs of the not-so-green parts of sailing with the eco-friendly aspects.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's Never Too Early... start going green. This pink and green baby blanket made with 100% organic cotton batting is available at HazelHouse's etsy shoppe.

Oh, how I wish they made a grownup version of this quilt!!!

Saturday Afternoon Movie

If you're hanging out today looking for something to do (and you're not watching SEC football like we are), run to your local movie rental store and rent Mame.

Based on the smash stage musical of the same name, the movie musical centers on wealthy and super eccentric Mame Dennis (played by the fabulous Lucille Ball), who unexpectedly becomes the guardian of her nephew, Patrick. For all the Golden Girls fans out there, a young Bea Arthur plays Vera Charles, Mame's best friend. It's the perfect Saturday afternoon movie!

Saving the World, One Fork at a Time

I was a lucky, lucky kid. As a child, I was taught valuable life lessons that have been instrumental in forming the way that I see and experience the world in which we live. I learned to look out for others, to always be both strong and kind, to be thankful for everything I have and to never use a paper napkin or a plastic fork when there is an alternative. That last one may seem a bit odd grouped in with the others, but if I were to name my top 5 childhood memories, having bagged lunches complete with a cloth napkin and real silverware would most certainly be among them.

Mom's reasoning behind packing my lunches with such seemingly adult items was tri-fold. First, it taught me responsibility. Each day, I was responsible for bringing home the Tupperware container, napkin and fork that had traveled to school in my lunch bag. Secondly, we were an eco-conscious bunch. If we could avoid disposable things, we did, and if a more permanent item would suffice, it did. Lastly, Mom believed that a person should always have a bit of luxury with every lunch. She too packs real silverware and a cloth napkin with her lunch each day. I'm grown up, on my own and seven states away and still, when I pack my lunch, it includes these very same items.

I prefer a vintage cloth napkin and fork, but even new items are friendlier to the environment than disposable paper and plastic products. You can find vintage napkins and silverware in a number of different places. Antique stores, thrift shops, swap meets, junk shops, and flea markets are all great places to hunt down bargain treasures to make your lunch that much more enjoyable. Online retailers like Grace Homestyle and GRDN have a decent selection of vintage napkins. So when you pack your lunch for tomorrow, toss in a cloth napkin and a real fork and save a little bit of our planet!

It's a Picnic

We may be moving from one season to another, but it's still warm enough in some areas for a few more picnics in the park. If you're going to venture out for a fabulous lunch-in-a-basket, check out this eco picnic basket for two from Uncommon Goods.

The basket includes bamboo plates, cutting board and utensils, wine glasses made from recycled glass, dye and chemical free cotton insulated lining and embroidered natural cotton napkins.

If you don't want to buy a brand new picnic set, pick up a basket from the thrift store or a swap meet and fill it with vintage glasses (my favorites are from restaurants that have closed up shop), cloth napkins in terrific prints, silverware (you can find beautiful antique silverware in small quantities at thrift stores...perfect for a picnic for two!) and plates both large and small (my favorites are antique plates from hotels, country clubs and universities). After your picnic, pack up all of your re-usable goodies to take home and you'll help to decrease the amount of trash that ends up in overflowing landfills.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Little Bit of Love(seat) Goes a Long Way

Lotus Bleu's rehabbed furniture is beyond fantastic! This striped loveseat is mid-century vintage and has been reupholstered. How chic!

Connect the Dots

Pottery Barn Kids has gotten in on going green with these super cute polka dot towels.

They're made of organic cotton and they're on sale! They're also free of fragrances and dyes, making them perfect for those of us with sensitive skin!

More Fabulous Bags

eBags has a horde of really great eco-friendly bags.

Here are a few of my faves:

The Clair V. Paige Silk Bag

The Flote M Street Clutch

Ludwiga's Linen Alsace Antique Linen Handbag

The Helen Riegle Lotus Tote

Give 'em a look. You might find something you love!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

In Black and White

This 100% organic cotton shirt from Peaceful Disorder is on sale right now for $29.

The shirt also comes in taupe for $36.

Yule Love This!

It's a bit early to start thinking about the Christmas tree, but this really makes me wish I had a yard:

Organic Style has the tree on sale right now.

From their website:
Make the earth a little greener this year and for decades to come. This wonderful heirloom Scotch Pine seedling will grow about a foot a year for the first ten years, and eventually grow to be 60 feet tall with a 40 foot spread in a landscape setting. It holds its fragrance all season and while small can be enjoyed in a planter indoors. The Scotch Pine does best in USDA zones 3-7. And, by planting heirloom varietals, you contribute to the plant’s genetic diversity.

Bag It!

When a shoulder bag is too big and a teeny tiny bag is too small, look to this clutch from Autonomie Project.

It is hand-crocheted by a women's sewing cooperative in rural Piura, Peru, and made from a sturdy recycled polypropylene bought right on the local Peruvian market, helping sustain the women's local economy. It's available in gold, grey, black and red.

Should you need a bit more room, the line also includes a shoulder bag.

The shoulder bag is available in red, grey, black and brown.

Aren't they just the cutest???

Praline Deliciousness

Several days ago, I was asked to participate in an email recipe exchange. The criteria for the recipe included the following: it must be relatively easy, it must be one of your favorites and it must represent some part of your heritage.

It was pretty hard for me to come up with just one recipe to pass along, but I finally decided on pecan pralines.

Easy Pecan Pralines


* 1 1/4 cups of sugar
* 3/4 cups of brown sugar
* 1/2 cup of evaporated milk
* 4 tablespoons butter
* 1 tablespoon vanilla
* 1 1/2 cups pecans

Put sugars and milk in heavy bottom pan and cook to soft ball stage. Remove pan from fire and add butter, vanilla and pecans, then stir until shine leaves mixture. Spoon onto waxed paper and let cool.

If you've never had a praline, you have certainly done yourself a disservice. I advise you to whip some up ASAP! And for the record, it's pronounced "prah-leen", not "pray-leen".