2012, watch out.

Here's a retrospective on my 2011, blog-style. I expect to kick out the jams in 2012. That's my only goal.

2011. Year in blog-review.
  1. Discovered Film Biz Recycling
  2. Got a backpack
  3. Saw mouse prints in the snow
  4. Had pretty long hair
  5. Went to a mending circle
  6. Looked at my plastic consumption
  7. Reviewed some thrift stores
  8. Figured out how to wear stuff I previously hated
  9. Remembered I owned shoe clips
  10. Bought tights at Super Hero Supply Company
  11. Made tiny vegan cherry pies
  12. Made a terrarium (that died within a week)
  13. Wore a floor length gown that was my grandmother's
  14. Went to the Museum of Moving Image
  15. Made cashew milk
  16. Did some community work re sexual assault and rape
  17. Got a new bike (Linus!) and bike baskets (Basil!)
  18. Went to the Mermaid Parade
  19. Made necklaces at Brooklyn Charm
  20. Wrote about the "greenness" of pleather vs. leather
  21. Made cashew cheese
  22. Went to a Catskills wedding
  23. Went to Nova Scotia
  24. Shopped at the "Say Yes to the Dress" store
  25. Wrote about my feral cats
  26. Wrote about some of the animals at Farm Sanctuary
  27. Posted pictures of my Wonder Woman/Hello Kitty car from high school
  28. Helped organize a several hundred person rally against sexual assault
  29. Made a denim vest out of a kid's jean jacket
  30. Moved in with my boyfriend
  31. Talked about vegan makeup
I also completed my "official" 2011 goal of training for and running a 5k. I took the Couch to 5k program from a 9 week program and made it into a 5 week program (bad idea) and gave myself runner's knee in the process (painful) but I did it.

The same cannot be said for Spanish language class -- that is a goal that will have to rollover to 2012. Eche las mermeladas?


Happy holidays from Emmy
and her new Santa Mouse!

Emmy & her Santa mouse

In true cat lady fashion, I left my petsitter (and friend) a bag of toys to open for the cats on Christmas morning. So far, they've enjoyed them all.

Hope you are all enjoying your holidays, have a great New Year's Eve and best wishes for a spectacular 2012! (grammar nerd link)


10 Dresses to Go

Dressembers 20th and 21st. Ten days of dresses to go. I'm surprised I've had no repeats. I have more dresses than I thought. Who knew I was so rich in dresses?

I wore this to:

- work
- food co-op shopping

dress/beacon's closet
tights/maggie's organics
pleather loafers/vintage via etsy

I wore this to:
- work
- watch first episode of Sons of Anarchy
- hope I don't start watching Sons of Anarchy forever

dress/sweatshop from London 6+ years ago?
tights/maggie's organics
purple shoes/sweatshop (new & falling apart)

I am pretty sick of wearing tights and leggings, although they afford for large meals without much discomfort.

But now I'm afraid that when I need to put pants back on again I won't be able to thanks to my 7 cookie a day diet and the denial that dresses and tights affords me currently. F that. I sound like a Cathy comic. Cookies on demand, without apology.


Developing My Gift Matrix

I know everyone is posting like crazy about holiday shopping and gift guides now. This isn’t a gift guide. It's my gift matrix. Since I typically consume by specific standards (wistful on the reduced consumerism front, hopeful focus on fair-trade and reuse items, vegan, etc.), I have a very specific plan of attack when I'm buying for others. And hopefully you’ll share how you match your holiday giving with your own values, too.

So, this is how I roll.

1. Do we have to? It sounds a little Scrooge McDuck but it isn’t. I pared down my list of gift recipients based on who wanted to exchange gifts. This gave some of my friends an out to say they were hard up for cash and agreeing not to exchange gifts would alleviate some of that gift-giving pressure. If that’s helpful, I’m happy to skip exchanging and just stick with the holiday well-wishing instead.

2. What do you need? While I fully support the idea of the “Buy Handmade” pledge primarily for labor practice reasons**, I don’t always think it’s the smartest way to shop. I’ve found that at times it’s hard to get something useful or wanted and handmade. And – unfortunately – sometimes the longevity of some handmade items just isn’t there. It’s great (wonderful, in fact) when it is but I’ve had some disappointing issues with inadvertent obsolescence due to subpar materials or handiwork. (This was more in the textiles area - clothing, bags, etc.)
Past Example: I knew my cousin needed tools for his trade class. Nothing I could get him off Etsy was going to be useful for him, but I knew a gift card to a hardware store would be well-used, and it would save him from having to spend his own money on tools. So, if there is something I know the person can use, I try to get specs and get them that very thing. Or I get them a gift card so they can. Are they places I’d normally shop? No. But I know they are going to be spending their money there anyway and if there are no smaller business alternatives in their area I deem it useful and let go of it not fitting perfectly within my ideals.

3. What do you want?
Do they have something on their “want” list that I’d be happy to get them? As long as it doesn’t cross my biggest shopping no-no’s (animal ingredients, tested on animals), I will go with it. (Later down the line I consider labor practices, local businesses and manufacturers, etc.) So, I’m not signing you up for Omaha Steaks or donating a heifer in your name but I will buy you a CD. (Also why would I do something like livestock international when I could do Feed More International and feed people without harming animals?)

4. If they don’t have anything to list for needs or wants…
If people won't come up with a need or a want and we're still exchanging gifts, I try to opt for one of two things -- donations or the gifts of a service and/or shared experience. (These are always planned; I wouldn't get anyone a donation as a holiday gift without discussion about the gift exchange first.)
For a few years, my mother and I exchanged donations to charities of our choosing. A few years later we decided to gift each other a shared experience – we realized that the thing we found most valuable was spending time together and giving each other a spa gift card for the express purpose of booking our appointments together was a perfect fit and what we’ve been doing for years now. (Services usually help support an industry and pay people a decent wage without creating "stuff". You would know best which service businesses you feel best supporting.)
If I have people I can’t ask about their needs or wants and I would like to get them a gift, I approach it the similarly. First, can I get them something that’s a service? Can I get them a gift card at a mani/pedi place or a massage place (etc) that pays for a service but doesn’t put “stuff” into their hands if not used?
louvre me louvre me not

Or can I get something comestible they can eat, drink, share with others if they don’t like it? For one Yankee swap this year I got a pound of coffee and 4 vintage mugs. (They were stoneware and had a funny little mouse drawing on it with the word "Mousehole" painted on the back. I couldn't leave them at the store.) I took a chance on the mugs but they seemed to have gone to a good home - the recipients told me they liked them and had just moved so they needed mugs. And it wasn’t new “stuff’ so I didn’t feel too horribly if they were not very well received – people can usually figure out how to donate/repurpose mugs. (Although I totally hemmed and hawed about whether this was a mistake; my boyfriend can vouch for that.)
Equal Exchange coffee - I actually
bought Intelligentsia, which has some farmer
relationship but it's not quite the same
Since I’m vegan I can no longer just go pick up a box of Godiva or whatnot, I usually end up getting dark chocolate items or vegan truffles. (I should be better and look for fair trade but I don't always remember. But I should.) This year I got a bunch of Rescue Chocolate (vegan, delicious and a portion of the $ goes towards animal nonprofits) and Hurraw lip balm (vegan, organic, fair trade ingredients and generally useful in the winter) to gift.

That brings me to general personal care items. I know people are picky about what they use…I am, too. But sometimes I go out on a limb and get general winter-centric personal care items for folks if I think they’re a good quality and they might get used. Again, since I’m vegan there’s no animal by-products or testing involved with the things I choose (no beeswax, no lanolin, no milk derivatives, etc.). This year I ended up gifting some Smith's Rosebud balm/salve (the no lanolin versions) and some vegan hand lotion for people.

Rosebud salve and Peter Rabbit tissue
5. My downfall:
All said and done I totally broke down and bought $50 worth of cat toys that my cats will certainly play with but do not need. I was at the pet store, standing in front of the rescue kitty cages trying to pick out cat toy gifts for our local animal control facility and apparently lost my marbles so our cats got a tidy haul in addition to what I bought for the animal shelter. (The shelter also has some crates coming their way - this was just the little stuff.)
That's it! You're at the end of my gift matrix! My successes, my mistakes! The how and why of my holiday shopping. Your turn?
**I'm also aware that the materials that people use are often produced under poor labor standards and with an ecological impact as well, so "handmade" isn't as awesome as we sometimes think it is, although more and more handmade folks are using recycled materials or trying to chose their materials based on ecological footprint. But I have also seen greenwashing on Etsy in the past. Buying handmade is a good idea but I don't see it as a panacea.

Cookie Monster & Bonus Cuteness

I wore this to:
- volunteer at a cat/dog/bunny adoption event in Manhattan
- attend a holiday vegan cookie swap (holy stuffed piehole, Batman!)
- holiday shop

My faaavorite cookies at the swap:
1) Oreos-inside-chocolate chip cookies (Oreos are "accidentally vegan")
2) homemade peppermint patties
3) rocky road clusters (vegan tiny marshmallows, pretzels, peanuts, in dark chocolate)

Yesterday I found out that my blessed angel coworker who makes cookies for our entire agency added a vegan cookie version this year (gingerbread?) and someone grabbed a few for me before they were all gone. Holy f'n mmmmm.

That said, I'm committing to kale salad with tomatoes, tofu and tahini dressing for lunch for the week. With apples as snacks. My body has probably forgotten what to do with green foods at this point.

the 18th
beanie/brooklyn thrift
dress/sweatshop (dress proof here)
boots/hearts of darkness - cri de coeur (rebel)

This is one of the little buddies who was up for adoption this past weekend! Unfortunately this kitty is still at the shelter. Can you believe it?! Due to the economy (and more and more people having to give up their pets), adoptions have slowed for a lot of shelters and rescue groups so if you don't have pets and are thinking about adopting a cat, dog or bunny (or adding on to your current family), now is a great time!

for adoption!

Adult cats make great pets - you already know the personality you're getting and they have a much harder chance of getting out of the shelter because people fixate on kittens (who just become adult cats in a few months anyway).


DIY: A Swan of a Different Color

One of my goals has been to try to bring back the DIY in my life. Back in the day, I used to draw and "craft" (hate that as a verb) and zine all the live-long day. Now I don't do any of it. And honestly - it blows.

After seeing this key necklace tutorial, I decided I wanted to try something similar with a ring holder. You know, the ring holders that you always see at the resale shops - the omnipresent ring holders?

So this:

Turned into this:

ringholder DIY

I was invited to a vegan ladies holiday brunch hosted by my friend, S, that included a gift swap. The parameters for the swap were (quite thoughtfully) handmade or vintage. (Okay, seriously? My favorite swap idea ever.) I was bringing a pair of vintage drinking glasses anyway but this ended up being part of the gift.


via Citizen Rosebud - animal-friendly vintage line (Sacremento, CA)

Here is some vegan fashion news for my fellow vegans.

Look at this cool idea: Citizen Rosebud has opened Citizen Vegan, a line of vegan-friendly vintage items, at Never Felt Better. Never Felt Better is a vegan goods store in Sacremento, CA. If you're in the area, Citizen Rosebud urges you to "check out her rack".

Please file this under "Ideas I Wish Were Mine". How jazzed would I be if I could vintage shop somewhere without having to check the tag every time I picked up a sweater or silk-seeming shirt?

This reminds me - I would seriously like to get on top of organizing a vegan-friendly clothes/accessories swap in NYC.

Picture stolen
from Citizen Rosebud post
(linked above)

Oh, the Owsla

19 days into Dressember. I am starting to feel it. Firstly, contrary to popular belief, I am tired of taking photos of myself every single gd day. I feel like a kid some overbearing mom pushed into kid-modeling some days. Now you will understand why I'm sometimes posting dark iphone photos. They are fast and easy. ("Mom, are we dooooone yet?")

Secondly, it is getting dang cold. Thank Frith for legwarmers. (I have Watership Down on my mind today.)

But! Dressember has forced me to wear those bastard child dresses I'd been ignoring. Now that I remember why I don't wear them, I either have to purge them or start wearing them in different ways. (This was my master plan for "doing" Dressember all along.)

Without further self-referential wordy harping about my closet, here are two dresses.

I wore this to:
- work
- attend a photo studio fundraiser for a makeup artist with stage 4 cancer
- eat dinner at Gobo

boo! (the 15th)
dress/vanilla and lace

I love the design of this Vanilla and Lace dress. I love everything in her store. Unfortunately the shoulders are slightly wide on me so the extra material in the shoulders slides forward and makes the front of the dress tent up front at the collar. Also it collects lint like a piece of scotch tape. And one of the back seams is kind of crooked. However, for $60 and this being a totally handmade super cute dress, I still think it's a deal. I will likely just have my tailor fix the shoulders and probably take up the hem and put it into regular rotation. I will order from her again and I will probably do exact measurements/custom order next time - just being honest about the dress I currently have.

I wore this to:
- work
- go to a community group meeting
- ignore my stringy hem
- alter the hell out of this dark photo so you can see anything

Friday the 16th
dress/beacon's closet park slope
tights/american apparel



In the spirit of giving

I wore this to:
- go to work
- eat 3 desserts in one day

I don't turn down vegan desserts unless they look like they're "healthy" - the ones that look and taste like rocky dirt or have a lot of whole grains in them. But when they're cupcake, brownie and coconut/jam kind of desserts, I don't turn them down. No matter how many I encounter in one day.

Maybe I am in a sugar-crash induced depression this week - I can't shake feeling bad about everything we can't help immediately. I feel miserable for farm animals who are in our factory farming systems as I type - battery hens, calves, pigs, baby chicks. I feel bad for homeless dogs, cats, bunnies and other companion animals who are lacking human companions to care for them. I feel bad for outdoor cats who don't have regular shelter and food because they're not part of a managed TNR colony. I feel bad for the kids who don't have a stable home life. Or parents who are too afraid to leave their abusive spouses. And their kids. And their pets. I feel bad for my grandparents and their health issues. I feel bad for everything that suffers.

It is probably survivor's guilt. I look at my little dudes...

Peek a Boo Kitty

and think how lucky they are to have a safe place to sleep at night and that I, given how many paths I could have taken in life, ended up here - safe and sound.

What is the "next right thing" I can do to help them? Feeling bad isn't going to help them. What helps is thinking about what I already have done (rescuing animals, going vegan...but the direct human help - humans are a little trickier to help directly) and thinking of what else I can do. I have some ideas.

In the meantime, this year I'll be giving to the following for the holidays:
- Farm Sanctuary
- Alley Cat Allies
- local animal control
- Safe Horizons
- NY Public Library (because books were such a big part of my childhood stability)

Oh, yeah. Here is the dress.

the 14th
dress/urban renewal
tights & oxfords/sweatshop


Dressember the 12th

I wore this to:
- work
- forget a belt

Please don't expect a Dressember the 13th. I left my apartment at 6:15am to do field work until 5pm so I did not wear a dress. I am lucky I managed non-pajamas at 6:15am.

This is actually a dress, not a skirt and a dress. I've dubbed either part of the dress dresskirt and dresshirt, but as a whole, it is a dress.

Dressember the 12th


tights/maggie's organics


My friend Maya on vegan makeup for the holidays

My friend Maya is awesome in so many ways. Ever since she told me her plans for a post on vegan makeup for the holidays, I've been anxiously awaiting it. And ever since I've been hitting her up for vegan makeup answers. ("What black eyeliner are you using now?" "Do you know of a vegan powder blush that's decent?") While it's true that I go through phases where I don't use makeup at all, there are periods when I do with Baby Jane gusto.

So here it is - "Great Makeup for the Holidays, Minus the Cruelty" by Maya, via Huffington Post.

I've been pretty loyal to Urban Decay over the years, particularly since they are fantastic about labeling what's vegan. I use the 24/7 black eyeliner, Lush Lash mascara, lipstick and their Baked Bronzer. I also have their Ink for Eyes, which I used before their liquid liner became vegan.

But! Knowing that everything Maya listed is vegan, it makes me a little more confident to branch out. Those OCD lip tars sound kind of rulin', don't they?

Dressember Round Up

Here's a whole slew of past-due Dressembers. I'm now officially done with 1/3 of Dressember. What I'm realizing was that pushing myself to wear bow ties when none of my dresses have collars was kind of short-sighted. And that I hate most of my sweater dresses because they leave little to the imagination. So when it gets colder expect to see a lot of sweater dresses with skirts.

In real-life news, mostly I've been working and, at times, still trying to put the apartment together. Which seems like an uphill battle, as if we are the first two people to have to scale such an insurmountable task. I won't be inviting you over for tea until June 2012 at this rate.

I wore this to:
- do a 2 hour presentation
- work

Dressember the 8th
tights/american apparel

I wore this to:
-attend an 8 hour work training session

Dressember the 9th
dress/beacons closet (reuse)
cardigan & tights/american apparel

I wore this to:
-move furniture
- get to farmer's market late
- get to vegan book swap late
- see Wizard of Oz on big screen in Jersey City
- eat dark chocolate covered frozen banana (vegan!)
- requisite "there's always money in the banana stand" jokes

Dressember the 10th
dress/resale shop
tights/american apparel
shoes/hearts of darkness by cri de coeur (lure)

I wore this to:
- hit up secret thrift store for DIY project materials
-move furniture

Dressember the 11th
dress & tights & socks/american apparel
skirt & shoes/sweatshop

I wore it similarly here and here is the whole dress.



Dressember the 7th

I wore this to:
- work
- hair appointment

Urban Renewal is one of those (sub)brands that I feel aight about purchasing. (Unlike most other retail chain brands.) Typically the material is deadstock, salvaged or reworked from something else and put together in the US of A so I imagine real live adults with legit jobs are making stuff. I guess I stopped checking where things are made in the product details because I ended up with two dresses that, while made from deadstock materials, didn't mention where they were made recently.

This one was made in the US, I believe. It has a collar but it gets lost in the...busyness.

Dressember the 7th
dress/urban renewal (salvaged fabric, made in usa)
shoes/vivienne westwood for melissa



Dressember the 6th

I wore this to:
- work
- attend Architects for Animals

Dressember the 6th
dress/Buffalo Exchange, Seattle
shoes & leggings/sweatshop
cardigan/American Apparel
brooch/handmade, comics fest

My boyfriend made a side comment to me about whether the things I wear with leggings are actually dresses or tunics. I assure you that, for better or worse, I wear all of these as dresses sans leggings when the weather is right.

Here's the same dress, summer-style. Note: it is passing the fingertip test.

Fremont Troll



Dressember the 5th

I wore this to:
- attend 6 hours worth of work planning meetings
- feel brain cells get lazy after 4 hours of meetings

Since I knew I had meetings both inside and outside my agency this day, I wore something longer than normal and that was comfortable to sit in all day. I guess I plan to wear oxfords every day with every dress, forever? Oxfords 4ever!

Dressember the 5th
dress, leggings/sweatshop


Delinquency (comments)

Hey y'all who've commented asking questions,

I've finally gotten my act together and commented back. Sorry I'm a lazy blogger.

Will this distract you from my sloth?

salt n' peppa here (@uncommon goods on so congress)

Okay, great.



Dressember the 4th

I wore this to:
- take a bike safety class at 718 Cyclery
- bike to a holiday market at Cut (Soapwalla!)
- eat Thanksgiving leftovers (vegan) sandwich @ 'snice
- bike to By Brooklyn to pick up holiday gift order
- bike to DeKalb markets (eat brussels & chestnut rice ball...really)
- bike home

In case you didn't notice, I biked a lot both weekend days. And on busy roads. I get that this is something people do all the time. But I'm not everyone. Lazy people are allowed to celebrate when they are like semi-athletic people for a change. So. Huzzah, lazy-self!

(No Violets were harmed in the making of these pictures.)

Dressember the 4th

Dressember the 4th with Violet
dress, leggings, socks & shoes/sweatshop



Dressember the 3rd

I wore this to:
- bike to Williamsburg
- see just a few minutes of Phoebe Gloeckner
- bike back home in the cold (perpetually underdressed for weather)
- lunch @ Urban Rustic (club!)
- best dinner of not-dogs loaded w/hummus, fried onion, veganaise, ketchup, black olives

Bummed to miss all of Phoebe Gloeckner's talk, especially since she was discussing her ongoing project (dioramas, women murdered, Juarez). But I got 4 comics and a t-shirt that reminded me of a Pushead illustration.

(I assure you I also had vegetables for dinner.)

Dressember the 3rd

pins, including Avon 1972 dessicated *glace* skunk pin

dress & pin/vintage
tights/american apparel
shoes & shirt/sweatshop



Dressember the 2nd

I wore this to:
- work holiday party

Dressember the 2nd
shoes & tights/sweatshop

The great thing about this dress is how many wears I get out of it. I've worn it to weddings, holiday parties, New Year's Eve, whatevs kind of fancy cold weather events. It invariably gets me Jackie O (or Jackie Kennedy) comments and I find myself reaching for it more than I ever thought I would.

Buying stuff to like enough for it to become a staple is always tricky. The best laid plans to target good quality items that won't be dated and that I'll like to wear forever are often foiled. Sometimes it's the fit. Other times its how I feel in it. Or knowing how to wear it. For whatever reason, items I feel lucky to have in my closet are few.

So I consider this dress one of my greenest buys - it was already reused and for a dress-up dress, it gets a lot of airtime. If I didn't have this go-to in my closet, I'd have to be shopping a lot more often since fancy dress events (just like work) are one of those required dress code instances.

Shockingly, Anna Wintour also endorses reuse when she says, “I think it's always fun to have something new, but it doesn't mean that everything you already have in your closet has to be thrown out, you know? Recycle. It’s totally okay — I even recommend it.” (Although, in all seriousness, I don't make a habit of considering Wintour's thoughts all that much.)



Dressember the 1st

I wore this to:
- work
- role play interviewing someone in a work training
- have my green moving boxes picked up
- slog through the end of Eating the Dinosaur

I know I've been missing 'round these parts lately.

I hope you all had excellent Halloweens. I was in Austin, Tx for work and forgot about Halloween. So much so that when I started hearing weird mumbled microphone noises from the parking lots adjacent to our hotel, I just assumed the strip club nearby had a really lousy announcer for their dancers. It wasn't until a little later that I figured out there was a pop-up haunted house set up in one of the other parking lots.

I also hope you had a thankful Thanksgiving. This year we visited friends of my boyfriend's family. This was my first and probably only participation in a reenactment of Noah's Ark, complete with DIY alligator mask and biblical passages orated. (We all made our own masks with the provided craft supplies. Someone else orated.) It was probably the most interesting Thanksgiving I've had, and I have a lot of drunken relatives in my family to endure on holidays so that's saying something.

Dressember 1st
cardigan & shoes/sweatshop
tights/maggie's organics
dress/resale from blogger

Dressember the 1st




Sadistic Dressember Goals

Maybe I'm a sadist but I thought having some additional goals for Dressember might spice it up a bit. You know, besides wearing a dress for 31 days. These goals read like a laundry list of closet orphans and DIY projects. (Because that's what they are.)

Henceforth, for the month of Dressember, I challenge myself to:

1) Wear lace collar I bought 50 billion years ago (still unworn)
2) DIY a bleached black t-shirt dress
3) Wear gray Hearts of Darkness Charisma boots
4) Make myself find a space in my new apartment where I can take outfit pictures
5) Purge the dresses I just do. not. wear.
6) Wear embroidered bow tie & black tie

{picture from With Care's shop}

7) Figure out how to layer dresses so they can be worn more than 1 way

#6 is selfish. I told myself I couldn't buy any more of With Care's ties until I wore the ones I'd just purchased. But look how cute they are! Handmade. In the North America.