31 December 2011

What Lies Beneath

The occasions are more cherished and far between that we have an opportunity to glam it up in all its glory. New Years Eve still offers up just the chance.

I still go by the rule that what I wear underneath MUST make me feel equally as beautiful as the icing.  Cheers to an eco Fabulous New Year and Thanks for following eco Couture!!!

On Top

29 December 2011

Lofty Ambitions

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In a couple of months I will be feathering a new nest in an urban setting.  My desire to return to go metro emerged as I realized that while the siren song of nature still called my name, I also longed for the sense of community that is lost on the city outskirts. 

Mid Century Modern Loft
Retro Mid Century Loftspace
 The term "Loft" began in New York City in the 1940s when renters and owners began turning old industrial buildings into living spaces. The original tenants were artists who craved the high ceilings, large windows and open floor plans typical of converted warehouses and factories. Over the last decade, many major cities throughout the world have begun to welcome the idea of loft living, which is a way of bringing life into what were previously deserted parts of a city.

Moving from a woodland passive cedar treehouse to an industrial loftspace feels new and exciting and all at once I am shedding excess baggage and minimalizing.  Streamlined living with one cup, one bowl, one spoon and a large pillow to sit upon is my vision but certainly a challenge as well. I am drawing inspiration to pair back from a vision board that I have created of lofts from around the world.

I hope you find your own lofty ambitions and Happy New Year!.

01 December 2011

Love Letters vs. Love Emails

Will Stamps be Obsolete by 2050?

A few years ago, when my grandmother passed away, I discovered a tattered scrapbook tucked away in her cedar hope chest.  She had saved all of the love letters between her and my grandfather before they were married, when he was stationed overseas.  Can you imagine using an international courier service every time you wanted to say ‘I love you’?  Now, when my partner travels we email each other.  Most epistolary relationships use the sustainability of the web to communicate today.  But, what will our grandchildren find? 

There won’t be yellowed letters with tear stained ink, or musty envelopes with foreign postage.  We’ll have to leave them a password to unlock our romance. The words of our generation have been rendered immortal, hanging in the great clouds of information that make up the web. The art of delicate handmade stationary and practiced calligraphy is dwindling in favor of sustainable and expedient email.  It is a trade off. 

The Lost Art of Letter-writing
Maybe we should all incorporate a little bit of both: personalized notes on eco friendly stationary and emails to leave our legacy of love.  The emails can’t be destroyed in a house fire or lost in a hurricane.  Emotion is expressed in penmanship that typed words lack; however, the ease of a delete key makes for a well-crafted draft.  How will you write your next love letter?  
Night Owl Paper Goods Eco Friendly Stationary

29 November 2011

Brooch Out

I inherited a collection of vintage brooches and pins, from cameos, to owls, to holiday adornments that seem to call my name during the festive season as I search for new was to spruce up my style.

The classic way to wear a pin was at the shoulder, complemented by pearls, hat and gloves. Pins and brooches draw the eye, and placement is key.

Katherine Heigl wears a Brooch in the Updo
Nicole Kidman wears a Bow Brooch at the Nape
Alternative placements that I love: on the hip, the nape of the neck, bodice, hat or headband, or even on a ribbon that is tied at the neck or wrist.

Vintage Pearldrop Clasp worn at the Bodice

Vintage Fan Clasp worn at the Bodice

Vintage Clock Bee Pin
Simple Classic Jewel Brooch
Wearing a vintage brooch will inevitably bring back gads sharing of fond memories.  I hope I have tweaked a few for you.

Brooch Ribbon 2 Tier Necklace

Silk or Satin Ribbon-1 1/2 " wide cut into 4 (24" strips), Sandpaper, Clear Nail Polish, Glue Gun, Jump Rings, Paper Towels

With your wire cutters, snap off backings to your jewelry, using the sandpaper sand down any rough edges, use clear nail polish on any sharp edge remaining.  

Arrange your pieces to your liking.  I used 5 brooches and 4 pairs of earrings.

Add jump rings using the needle nose pliers to connect the pieces together and finish off with ribbon.  Experimentation is key to success.

05 November 2011

Homegrown Jazz at Cafe Mitanni

I am hanging out at Cafe Mitanni these days when in Istanbul. This Taksim coffeehouse offers a cool home away from home space to chill out with a cafe americano or a glass of wine.Cafe Mitanni is owned by musician Turgay Demiryürek. Its frequented by musicians, artists and bohemians as well as expats.

The Swing Stars ~ Turgay Demiryürek
with Deniz Mercan and Gorkem Efe.
The ambiance mixes antiques, vintage photography and magazines, with organic, hand-drawn cephalopods; octopus and squid. Each item is surely carefully chosen and well loved.

The house cat, Arap, is family to bookseller and neighbor, Oktay. Arap sleeps all day and I wonder if he is up all night like most of the cool cats that hang out at this hot spot.

Oktay and Arap
Grandmas Recipes Rule
My drink of choice is Hot Milk with Cinnamon.  I also am a fan of the homemade straight-from-your-grandma's pantry recipes.

On any random night, Cafe Mitanni turns into a live music hole-in-the-wall ideal for people who are into a more funky-alternative relaxed experience. Deniz will be behind the bar ready to offer up something tasty.

You can find Cafe Mitanni off the main walking street of Istiklal. Turn towards the water at the Benetton on Çukurluçeşme Sok. No.6/A Beyoğlu.

16 October 2011

Sustainable Strings

 I am staying in a cool musician's flat in Istanbul for a couple of weeks and surrounded by instruments galore. I always have felt most comfortable in and around music and the crafting of both the tune and the instrument are intoxicating to my soul.

Musicwood follows guitar-makers Chris Martin (Martin Guitars), Bob Taylor (Taylor Guitars), and Dave Berryman (Gibson) on their journey together to the Tongass, a remote forest in SE Alaska. Old growth Sitka Spruce trees used in creating acoustic guitar soundboards come from the Tongass, the largest temperate rain forest in the world, and they are being logged at a staggering rate. The documentary goes behind-the-scenes the battle in Alaska to preserve the Sitka Spruce, films the craftsmanship of guitar-making in the master workshops of Gibson, Martin Guitars, and Taylor Guitars, and even has some cool live acoustic guitar performances including Yo La Tengo, Turin Brakes, Glen Hansard, and Sergius Gregory.

One song is titled “Beautiful” by Dan Bremnes is a story about upcycling something old and turning it into something new. Love this message. 

In the search for the sustainable stringed instrument I discovered Jedidiah.  The Luthier's Manifesto published on their website unveils a journey into mindful choices in the quest to produce the ultimate sustainable guitar from materials to final touches. 

29 September 2011

Hippest Squeeze in the Bul

I am sitting here in the friendliest juice bar in Istanbul.  Last time I was in this fair city I discovered Cuppa Juice bar and was charmed by the atmosphere, organic faire and cafe cat. Now I feel like its a home away from home.

This morning I started the day with a concoction of fresh fruits, veggies and herbs blended to yummy perfection, caffe americano and a platter of fresh cucumbers and baby tomatoes served with toasted homade bread and organic pesto dipping spread.  I booked all of my meet ups here today, and am sitting in the southern facing open window enjoying the afternoon warmth. 

Cuppa Juice
The owner, Dinc Togrol is always here, and today I heard him speaking English with me, turning around and conversing in German with other guests then back to Turkish and can't help but wonder just how many languages he does speak? 

The walls are a bright green and painted on the way it says (in Turkish) "All veggies and fruits are freshly squeezed with care."  Located in the Cihangir neighborhood of Istanbul on Yeni Yuva, the cafe is frequented by expats, artists and cool cats of both the human and feline variety.  The menu includes lots of vegetarian dishes and the kitchen is always glad to accommodate special requests.

Although a bit off the beaten path, bohemian Cihangir has long been popular among antiquarians and hipsters alike.Wandering in and around the spiderweb of cobblestone streets its easy to get lost in the sights and smells. Shopkeeps are very laid back and happy to give you a tour of their ateliers

While the area checkout Mariposa, a charming little retro-themed shop that carries a range of colorful clothing as their own line. They tailor make to order as per your design. Another great boutique, Berrin Akyuz, specializes in re-worked vintage clothing items as well as new pieces with a romantic feel. A favorite among locals, the store carries unique accessories.

 I just can not get enough of this place.

21 September 2011

Up Up and Away

Packing for a light getaway?  I go by the rule of 8 – eight lucky wardrobe pieces get to travel with me and I always leave extra room in my travel case just in case I adopt a new addition en route.

Two dresses, two skirts, one pair jeans, one sweater, one lace camisole, one jacket are the standard selections for a trip lasting one week or longer.  Funny thing is that if I pack more, I usually stick to the core eight essentials anyway.  Shoes and accessories are of course a must addition, and I do not go by the comfort comes first rule as let’s face it, the trimmings make the outfit.

Many recommend rolling instead of folding.  I really feel it depends on the garment.  I still like hanger bags as they make unpacking quick and easy, but must admit to rolling, folding, stuffing and even layering and wearing to make the carry on work for the return tour.  

If you watched the dapper George Clooney in “Up in the Air”, or William Hurt in “The Accidental Traveler” you witnessed mastery at the art of packing the rolling carry on bag. For every pound of weight shed from a plane, 14,000 gallons of fuel are spared per year. 
Heyes EcoCase

I like to start with a “right sized” bag as the bigger the bag the more stuff manage to port along with me. The sleek EcoCase by Heyes 3 Piece Set comes in plenty of color options and is made from 100% recycled plastic. More rugged eco-friendly bags include Sativa Bags , made of organically grown hemp/cotton and Ecolution , offering a roomy hemp duffel.

Trunk-style suitcases swathed in luxury leather, cavernous doctor’s bags and military canvas are just some of the styles available as vintage finds and retro repros.

Technological advancements may have brought us super lightweight cases, durable wheels, and even electric suitcases, but the lure of a stylish vintage case is pure magic.
Dunhill's Bladon Bag

Dunhill’s vintage Bladon bag takes its name from the English village where Winston Churchill is buried – he was a loyal customer of the brand. The company is debuting a new line of gentleman’s heirloom luggage dubbed the Bladon Leather collection. With a nod to history.

Globe-Trotter "Candy" Limited Edition

The company is not the only baggage manufacturer to look back for inspiration. Globe-Trotter has collaborated with Hackett on retro repros including the limited edition “Candy.”  This hot pink sweetie is super eye-catching with delicious burgundy leather trim and lining.

The only question I have now is will it fit in the overhead bin?

20 September 2011

Homegrown Goodness

"My Farm" won best cider in the Mid Atlantic Region this year. I call it this because I grew up on the homegrown corn, peaches, apples and beans.  Indeed I can walk or ride my bike there and fill my basket full of fresh picked seasonal fare from May to November.

Shenot Farm  has practiced sustainable farming, with minimal use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, since 1854. Founded by Christopher Scheno when he arrived in America in 1854, the farm has passed from father-to-son for five generations now.  I know Mary Lou who runs the market and makes over 50 varieties of homemade fudge.  Ed operates the farm and has the magic recipe for the award-winning apple cider.  Rob, one of Mary Lou and Ed’s three children, assists with farming operations, greenhouse and irritations management.

The folks at the farm harvest strictly by hand and the careful soil management practices they follow are evident in the taste of their bounty.  During harvesting they treat the pick as though it were as delicate and fragile as eggs. When there at the farm stand pickers frequently enter with freshly selected fruits and veggies to replenish the hourly offering so that everything is always perfectly just picked.

There is a lot of confusion over the true meaning behind terms like terms like  “conventional”, “organic”, “biotechnology”, “IPM”, and “sustainable” when it comes to farming.  The Shenots look at farming with logic and love of the land. Sustainable farming is a common-sense approach that is neither organic nor conventional as neither method leads to the best long-term use of the land instead opting for a combination of sustainable farming practices.

Beginning  the last weekend in September and every weekend in October, plus Columbus Day, Shenot Farm hosts hayrides to the pumpkin patch and corn maze. What better way to spend an autumn day?  Take home  an acorn squash and try this recipe.

Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Toast 1/2 cup walnuts in peanut oil and salt generously in a skillet until lightly brown
  • Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds
  • Fill each half squash with a tbsp (more or less to taste) of brown sugar and the remaining cavity with toasted walnuts
  • Roast in oven for about an hour
Substitutions abound. Try switching out Pecans for the Walnuts and adding dried fruit such as cranberries to the stuffing. Make each time different and you will never get bored with this autumn treat.

16 September 2011

What Audrey Wore

My love for film and fashion collide when I think about starlets like Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Lauren, The Great Katherine Hepburn.  I have a gala to attend this weekend and was flipping through my clippings of fashion favorites for inspiration.  The long gloves, veiled pillbox hat, dainty kitten heels speak to me in ways that make me so glad to be a woman.

Vintage continues to trend with strong influences on the runways in Milan, New York and Paris. Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Tori Burch, and Bill Blass continue to shine with looks that often harken back to simpler, more elegant times that bring a tone of nostalgia to the runway.

Vintage Inspired Spring 2012 Collections

Whether it is a new Vintage inspired look with a twist or the incorporation of true fashion finds of the ages, the key to pulling of a vintage look without coming off as old fashioned or “cute” is the key.
Stars such as Drew Barrymore, Mandy Moore, Winona Ryder, and Chloe Sevigny spark red carpet buzz when they don their trademark time piece fashions and win “best dressed” list year after year.

Chloe Sevigny

Winona Rider
Drew Barrymore

Vintage clothing is so much more than just used clothes. It’s clothing that had style back in its time and which continues to have style today even though the era when it was originally made is long gone. Some of the vintage finds even come from celebrities who have used them in movies and then offloaded them when they were done wearing them.

Over the years I have found that shopping in upscale resale and vintage boutiques and hidden gems off the beaten path, I can get great vintage looks in top condition. These stores include Decades Inc in LA and Jim Smiley Vintage Clothing in Manhattan. 

I also love to visit flea markets when traveling abroad for that “something something” that makes an outfit really pop. 

Hope to find that ”something something” this weekend and let my inner vintage vixen shine.