Key Charms: New Etsy Necklaces

New to my Etsy shop [editor’s note: the shop has closed]: Keys covered in words from a recycled old book (a paperback copy of “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin with yellowed pages and a missing cover). Here are two out of a dozen recently added to Miss Stefanie’s House of Crafts & Collectibles.

Kitchen Sources for Beauty: Corn Starch

In my quest to eliminate unnecessary products and waste, I have tried to cut down on shampooing. I’ve actually tried to stop shampooing altogether (google “no poo” and you’ll find tons of testimonials from those who have successfully stopped shampooing; there’s even a “no poo” Wikipedia entry), but I lost patience during the dirty, greasy hair phase. So now I try to shampoo once or twice a week and get through the in-between days with corn starch. There are plenty of dry shampoos on the market and I tried a few from the beauty closet when I worked for a fashion magazine, but most of these products contain artificial fragrances and other ingredients I won’t use. I read that straight-from-the pantry corn starch could be used and I’ve found it works just as well. I keep it in the bathroom and dip my fingers in the jar to apply to roots on non-shampoo days. Hair maintains its natural shine from healthy hair oils, while roots get a quick de-greasing. Until I try quitting shampoo again….

Kitchen Sources for Beauty: Baking Soda

I have already phased out cosmetics and personal care products that contain harmful chemical toxins in favor of safer alternatives. Recently, my green beauty experiments have led me to the kitchen, to use pantry ingredients that are actually good enough to eat (see previous post on olive oil). For a facial exfoliator, I’ve begun to use baking soda weekly or as needed, simply blending about a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda with water and gently rubbing the paste on my face using a circular motion. It’s safe, easy, effective—and a lot less expensive than other facial washes and scrubs. I’ve also filled an empty shampoo bottle with distilled water (DIY distilled water: boil filtered water, let cool, use) and a tablespoon of baking soda and use it instead of traditional shampoo a few times a week.

(Public service footnote: Learn more about this from the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics and find out what’s in your products from the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website).

Smell It, Taste it: Mmmmm, Chocolate

I read a report today that Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld loves chocolate but does not eat it. (This immediately brought to mind the story of Peter, AKA No Coffee Guy, whom I met during a weekend at Fire Island. Before going out one night, Peter’s housemate was brewing a pot of coffee and Peter commented about how good it smelled. But when I suggested he grab a cup, he replied that he didn’t drink it. He loved the smell, he said, but didn’t drink it. Then he added that he had never tried it. Loved the smell but had never tasted it? He could not provide a reason why and I was puzzled. Not trying crack? I get that. But coffee? That was the first sign that Peter was going to be a drip. Yes, pun definitely intended!) Back to Mr. Lagerfeld. He is quoted in W magazine as saying that the smell of chocolate is enough for him, that he can eat chocolate with his nose. Puzzled again. Barring a serious health issue, how bad can chocolate be when consumed in moderation? Mmmm, rich, dark chocolate. I consume some every day and savor every bite, even if it’s only one tiny piece. Lagerfeld finished by saying he would love a perfume based on chocolate. Someone should send him Cacao, the beautiful perfume already made by Aftelier Perfumes. As with all of her other amazing scents, Mandy Aftel uses only natural ingredients (no synthetics), and this one has a base of chocolate and vanilla with citrus and jasmine sambac top and middle notes—all to make it absolutely intoxicating and, well, delicious.

My Big Green Resolution

closet_photoAt the start of 2010, I made a resolution that felt big for me. It started with my desire to make a stronger commitment to green living—making more choices that were better for the environment. But I am a collector. I have a lot of stuff. And I really like my stuff. I have a closet filled with clothing and accessories I love (yes, love) and my house is full of treasured possessions. Still, I felt the need to simplify. I felt overwhelmed by the drive to acquire. Stuff! More stuff! So I decided to give up shopping for new stuff for the year.

I would refrain from buying new things I wanted. For things I needed, such as food and toilet paper and soap, I would stick to my resolve of buying the eco-friendly choices. New jeans, a new handbag, or new silverware? No. For any non-necessities, I would buy only pre-owned items—after carefully considering whether the purchase was necessary. I would shop at thrift stores, consignment and vintage shops, yard sales, on eBay and Etsy. I would be spending money on items already produced and in circulation (and withdrawing my consumer support for new products), which would help to reduce my carbon footprint.

I expected this to be a challenge and ended up being surprised with how easy it was. (And fun—thrift shopping is like treasure-hunting.) I thought I would write about my temptations and possible slips, but exceptions I made were few and far between (new underwear, practical running shoes…) and felt permissible. Then there was the upside: saving money. When the year ended, I decided to keep going and it’s become my new normal. Just like that. And while I’m shy about suggesting how others should live their lives, I like to share my example and offer it as a challenge to anyone who might like to try. For today or a week or a month or a year….

Vintage Find: Polka-Dotted Skirt

I found this cute black-and-white, polka-dotted silk Ungaro skirt on the bargain rack at a vintage shop in my neighborhood, Venice Vintage Paradise. I was wearing jeans and the shop owner taught me a new trick to find out if a skirt might fit. She told me to check to see if I could wrap the skirt’s waistband around my neck—if I could, the skirt would fit. She was right.