Fall Colors & Falling Leaves

Browns & Leaves: This Marc by Marc Jacobs cotton scarf (a recent thrift store find) will be my go-to wrap for fall. Pictured with it, a necklace that pairs a vintage cameo with a leaf charm. It might seem like there’s an endless summer in Los Angeles, but we have leaves that fall from trees. (Note the cat cooperating for a photo op with fallen leaves.)

Green and Gold: My high school colors were green and yellow, like the pictured zucchini from the Santa Monica farmers’ market. I’m reminded of cross-country races at Sunken Meadow Park during the peak of fall foliage season on Long Island. While autumn is less dramatic in Los Angeles, the difference can be felt during morning hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains.

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Old-Fashioned Watches: Low-Tech and Loving It

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Even though it was expected and should not seem surprising, I find it amusing that Apple is releasing a watch product when so many people now check the time by lighting up their smartphone screens.

I love wearing a watch and I have several to choose from when I get dressed each day. It’s true that none of the watches in my collection will count how many steps I’ve taken, let me view cute cat photos, or allow me to update social media accounts. But I wear my watches like jewelry and, as stylish and sleek as the Apple watch appears to be, it looks like an electronic device on a wristband. I’m not going to say I will never get one—through the years, I regret saying I would never wear a lot of things, like Birkenstocks or white after Labor Day—but I’m already feeling nostalgic for the good old-fashioned, time-telling watch.

I choose a watch like I do my earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings—and my clothing, other accessories, and handbags (bags—don’t get me started on handbags!). Like so many others, I express myself with my style choices and I love clothing and accessories that have been selected with care. Today I’m wearing my Wenger Swiss Army men’s watch, which is a memento from one of my first jobs. After five years with the company, I was told I could choose a work anniversary gift from a catalog that was filled with crystal vases, landscape paintings, and other dust-collecting items that would have ended up being donated to a thrift shop. Wisely, I chose the watch. It tells time reliably and has a date function (although it’s off by 10 days, give or take, since I last changed the battery). It’s classic.

On any other given day, I might wear the Baume & Mercier watch that cost a whole paycheck when I bought it at a shop on Fifth Avenue in New York several years ago. I remember nervously handing over my credit card—how could I spend this much money on a watch?— but I have never regretted the purchase. Like any beautiful and well-made accessory, I instantly feel pulled together when I’m wearing it. I love to look down to see the numbers around the dial, the hands that move with precision, and the weight of it on my wrist.

For special occasions or when I’m feeling fancy, I wear one my vintage Bulova watches; one was passed down from my grandmother and the other was one of my mother’s Sweet 16 birthday gifts. Both are dainty and make me feel lady-like and ready to take a swirl around the dance floor. A favorite Swatch from my teen years shows the inner workings of the watch on its face and usually sparks nostalgic conversations about the ’80s whenever I wear it.

I no longer have all the watches I’ve owned, nor do I feel the collection is actually complete. (I went through a phase in my twenties of wearing ring watches I purchased from flea markets and street vendors—and wouldn’t that be a fun new way to add to the collection?) The watches I have now are still worn and used, with the exception of the wind-up Snoopy watch I got as a gift from my parents after receiving my Holy Communion. I no longer wear it, but I like seeing it among the timepieces. It started ticking when I wound it up earlier and Snoopy’s front paws can still move around, all these years later.

Beach Bag: Ready for Summer Days

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Drying off after a swim this weekend, I took a photo while reclined on the beach blanket and got more of my beach bag in the shot than intended. Then I noticed how it showed all the essentials for a beach day: floppy hat to provide good coverage from the sun; polarized sunglasses to shield eyes and fight glare; a book and a magazine; a non-plastic water bottle (this Lifefactory bottle is glass with a protective silicone cover); a cotton scarf/sarong for additional coverage. My beach blanket of choice? A vintage sheet found in a thrift store (this one has a bold floral print by Vera). Not pictured: non-toxic sunscreen and lip balm (at the bottom of the bag), a towel, and snacks (roasted nuts and fruit).

Aside: Note the sweet couple taking a stroll down the beach.

Not-So-Fast Fashion: My Three Shopping Rules

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I like thinking of a closet like a wine cellar: you carefully choose everything to suit your taste, you think of your selections as investments, you educate yourself on the makers, and you expect what you have to last a very long time.

When I cleaned and reorganized my closet recently, I surveyed the items and found most of my collection is made up of vintage (either discovered from vintage or thrift shops or purchased new 20 or more years ago) or second-hand items (found at thrift stores, yard sales, or on Etsy and eBay). Up-to-the-minute fashions? Not really. I have plenty of timeless styles and some on-trend pieces, but very little of it is brand-new—and that’s how I want it. A few years ago, I made a commitment to buy second-hand whenever possible, as part of an effort to make more environmentally friendly lifestyle choices. Since then, I have become even more discerning about what I buy. Sure, liking it and fitting into it are big factors. It used to be enough to feel good in it—now I want to feel good about it too. That’s why I follow these three personal rules for shopping:

Consider the source.
Reject fast fashion brands and support companies with ethical and sustainable business practices. Who makes the clothing? How? Where? (If that shirt is only $3, you have to know the workers who made it weren’t paid fair wages.) Look at labels and look into company practices. Find out about how your favorite brands operate and choose to support those companies that care about people and the planet, with production standards that are fair trade, sweatshop-free, and environmentally friendly.

Start with seconds.
When you buy second-hand items already in circulation — from vintage shops, thrift shops, consignment shops, yard sales, or sites like eBay and Etsy — you’re saving clothes from crowded landfills and also doing your part to minimize demand for production of newer items. Even better: Many worthy nonprofits are supported by thrift store sales. (Some of my favorites: Goodwill, Housing Works, Council Thrift Shops.)

Stay close to home.
When you shop locally, you support your local economy. Cutting down on travel and shipping means you’re also reducing your carbon footprint. Then there’s the feel-good factor: Buying from local shops and designers helps your neighbors and makes you feel like part of the community.

This & That: Spring Flowers, Birds, Butterflies

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This & That (& Green): New finds and old favorites I’m loving right now. A combination of vintage or second-hand items; beauty products and other goods made responsibly with better-for-you, non-toxic ingredients; and DIY creations. 

Spring’s arrival in Southern California is never as dramatic as in other regions, but we still welcome its arrival with the sights and sounds—birds chirping, springtime flowers blooming, and the extra light. It’s only natural to favor lighter, brighter colors and embrace floral patterns this time of year.

Pictured above:

Camellia flower in bloom.

New spring wardrobe staples—all from thrift shops—include a bright and multi-patterned Antik Batik scarf I scooped up during a lunch shopping spree with friends last week. The vintage bucket bag is from the Original Earthbags by Fred Salerno line (and it was only 10 bucks!). Because I suddenly have no interest in wearing any of my black or dark denim jackets, this fitted Esprit jacket in faded blue is going into heavy rotation.

Jewelry for spring: Bangle bracelets with floral patterns, both vintage and second-hand. The earrings and necklace are DIY creations: I made the earrings with peach glass beads from a rosary and the bird charm on the necklace is actually an old button.

Bring on the  butterflies! We have milkweed plants in the yard to attract monarch butterflies and it’s always a thrill to watch the caterpillars grow—and to see butterflies in the yard. I also picked up this seed packet to attract even more.

This & That: Strawberry Picking

This & That (& Green): New finds or old favorites I’m loving right now—vintage or second-hand items, plus beauty products and other goods made responsibly with better-for-you, non-toxic ingredients.

The strawberry plants in our yard are flowering and the gaviota strawberry variety is available from at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. Sweet!

Top row:

Harry’s Berries at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market.

Second row:

Our flowering strawberry plant.

My new spring kicks: A pair of Converse Jack Purcell sneakers with a Marimekko strawberry print. I liked seeing the sneaker recycling bin at the front of the Converse store, with information on the ReUSE A SHOE recycling program with Nike.

A Ball Mason jar filled with filtered water, lemon slices, and frozen organic strawberries from Whole Foods. This idea came from the lovely Elisha Reverby, founder of the Elique Organics skin care line. I met up with Elisha at the Natural Products Expo this month on a hot day and she was sipping water from a jar just like this. She said she adds the frozen strawberries so they’ll act like ice cubes and keep the water cool—as well as sweet-tasting.

Bottom row:

Two dried strawberry snacks, both made using organic strawberries and nothing else. The first are freeze-dried and crunchy and come from Nature’s All Foods (available at Whole Foods); the second are chewy and dried using a dehydrator from a farmers’ market vendor. I’ve been reducing the amount of refined sugar in my diet and find that healthier treats like these satisfy my sweet tooth.

Strawberry-red for lips and nails from companies that use better-for-you ingredients in their beauty products: Primitive Makeup’s lip gloss in Rio, the creamiest and softest red lip gloss I’ve found; and Mineral Fusion nail polish in Fiery Lava.

Update: our strawberry plant is now in bloom—and I found my new perfect, everyday red lipstick. Logona’s lipstick is made without any synthetic colors or preservatives—and the color I chose is actually named strawberry. It’s creamy, warm, and looks like a red I wore years ago. Perfect.

Irish Eyes are Smiling: Clovers and a Claddagh Ring

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Photos of clover: around the pink flamingo in the yard, in the Santa Monica Mountains, and in the house.

The Irish Claddagh ring is a recent thrift store find. I love the design to represent love, loyalty, and friendship. Tradition holds that it should be given as a gift, but I didn’t want to pass up the bargain—only $6 and sterling silver—so I brought it home and told Mr. MVP he could give it to me (and he happily obliged). It is shown here on a vintage handkerchief embroidered with shamrocks, given to me by my mom.

The rosary beads—another thrift store find—are wood with shamrocks all around the beads. I’m a collector of rosaries and often find them rusty and broken; repairs are easily made with a pair of small pliers, and I like to use some of the beads to make upcycled earrings, bracelets, and necklaces.