Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Story Of Stuff: A Review


The Story of Stuff: 1. Extraction, 2. Production, 3. Distribution

Annie Leonard, a former Greenpeace worker, is fascinated with material things, especially garbage.  She says when she looks at a cell phone, sweater, or paper cup “it's entire life cycle flashes before [her] eyes.”  It's an obsession that lead to a popular animated short and follow-up book called "The Story Of Stuff" [published in March, 2010].  And along the way, she's been accused of being un-American by followers of Glenn Beck and Fox News.
4. Consumption

"The Story Of Stuff” gets you to think about how material things come into your life and where they go after they are tossed.  We are asked to consider the hidden health, environmental and social impact of all the stuff we consume.  The book is a very understandable and entertaining read.  The tone is upbeat and ultimately hopeful, and it raises important concerns like resource depletion, toxic chemicals, worker safety and economic justice.  It also discusses the roles big business, governments and people play in over-consumption.  More stuff doesn't de facto produce greater happiness either.

5. Disposal
The author believes we can make products better without destroying our health or our planet, and corporations can be both profitable and socially responsible.  She asks us to be open to new ways of thinking.  

Although some of her crictics accuse her of misrepresenting scientific terms and data, the book is worthwhile a read.  It's good to take stock of what's working and what's not … to question the status quo and to change the way we do things in order to make life better on a global scale. 

There isn't a single solution to ecological problems, but her book correctly advocates sustainability and gets readers to focus on the big picture.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Autumn's Purple Haze

There was a time when only an emperor or the Pope could afford to wear purple because it took many shellfish to make the pigment.  Interestingly enough, Byzantine princesses delivered their aristocratic children in purple chambers.  That's how it was for centuries, until German chemist, William Henry Perkin, created a synthetic purple dye in 1856, making the color of privilege available to the masses.  Purple was rock legend Jimi Hendrix's favorite color, so that's what he painted his Haight-Ashbury house.

Now purple is showing up as a hot make-up trend on runways and red carpets, as well as, in everyday life.  I see it all around while walking down a city street.  In addition to clothing and accessories, there are lavender eyes, plum lips and mauve, or violet nails.  Purple is a bold color that flatters everyone.  Say goodbye to drab browns and invisable beige.  All eye colors and skin tones can wear some shade of purple. Whether you wear a little or a lot, it's pretty, bright and irresisable!  The royals knew it all along; such a sultry color and versitle.  No wonder it's been sought-after throughout the ages.
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Go On A Skin Diet

It's common sense: Want beautiful skin?  Eat a diet fortified with foods that keep you young.  A junk food diet, consisting of grease, sugar and white flour, will take a toll on your health and the texture of your skin, hair and nails.  So if you want to look your absolute best and have glowing skin as long as you live, plan meals with a good balance of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  Below are some nutrients known for their skin boosting properties:

1) Drink liquids – Pure water is the king.  Green, white and black teas are excellent choices too for their anti-oxidants.  So is coffee in moderation [up to 24 oz].  Doctors now say coffee and teas do not dehydrate the body and can be counted as fluids [unless you have a heart condition].  The day I found this out, coffee stopped dehydrating me!  Like many of you, I drink a cup in the morning.
2) Protein – Lean meats, low fat milk, yogurt and cottage cheese are excellent sources.  Protein is the building block of the entire body.
3) Anti-oxidants, especially Vitamin C – Blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, watermelon, and red peppers.  These foods build collagen and fight off free radicals.
4) Vitamin A – Eat carrots, sweet potatoes, mangos, spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, and eggs.
5) B Vitamins – Whole grains, breads, baked potatoes, bananas and peanut butter.
6) Omega 3 fatty acids – Salmon, tuna, sardines, nuts and flax seeds are rich in omega 3's, which fight UV cell damage.
7) Iron – Lean beef is a super source of iron.
8) Selenium – Stimulates antibodies to fight disease, keeping skin healthy.  Super sources include cod, red meat and Brazil nuts.
9) Zinc – Helps to produce collagen.  Oysters, red meat, pumpkin and lentils have plenty of zinc.
10) Biotin – Avocados are great for the skin, rich in biotin, niacin and monounsaturated fats.

But let's face it, once in a while everyone needs a treat.  Treats with anti-aging properties include dark chocolate and red wine; however, to benefit only have them in moderation.  Dark chocolate has flavonoids, which get converted into anti-oxidants.  And red wine is rich in polyphenols, another anti-oxidant that includes resveratrols.  Scientists are working to put high concentrations of resveratrols in pills to help people stay young ... so stay tuned.  Meanwhile, start your skin diet today to look and feel your fabulous best.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fashion's Night Out



Madison Avenue hosts Fashion's Night Out tomorrow for a second year in a row.  Stores stay open until 11pm and offer live music, champagne, h'orderves and, of course, the latest fashion to the public.  Some have reductions of 20%, or more.  Other events include photo booths, games with free giveaways and celebrity appearances.  You will find tons of style at every price point.  Conceived in 2009 by Vogue editor, Anna Wincour, FNO is fast becoming a global event in major cities.  It's also the perfect time to visit New York City with all your fashion forward friends! 

Update, September 12:  I joined the party on the Upper East Side and was surprised by how good the food and drinks were: Champagne at more stores than I care to mention and interesting cocktails at others.  Snacks included wrapped tuna squares, hickory almonds, tiny containers of flavored wild rice, bites of filet mignon on bread and dollops of red velvet cake with icing (at Ivanka Trump's shop).  I loved the friendliness, the festive atmosphere of listening to the in-store musicians and outdoor bands, walking past the window dancers and open-air mimes, and seeing very bony, super models on the arms of famous designers.  Valentino had a celebrity poker game happening. You could play musical chairs at Barney's and ping pong at several shops.  And the new fall clothes are gorgeous!  I had fun.


Fashion's Night Out has, so far, been in early September
Click map for a partial list of NYC's luxury stores

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Easy Labor Day Fare

Well here we are ... approaching another long weekend.  Why not celebrate the last summer holiday with easy-to-prepare summer food and an icy summer drink?  I love a great burger grilled to perfection, with just a touch of coarse salt, pepper and maybe a sprinkle of Worcestershire sauce, plus all the fixings like purple onion, romaine lettuce, pickles and a slice of tomato.  The trick to a great burger is, don't mess with it.  Form a loose patty, flop it on one side and don't touch it until it's brown and ready to flip over on the other side.  When both sides are done, slap it on your warmed bun.  Pair it with golden brown french fries, if you wish.  I cut up fresh potatoes, brush them with olive oil and a dash of salt and bake them until crispy.  My condiments of choice are good ole American ketchup and freshly ground pepper.  Usually I'll also prepare a quick salad consisting of:  romaine lettuce, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and a vinaigrette dressing.  Or some sides, like grilled vegetables, baked beans, or corn on the cob.  Simple, satisfying and flavorful.

What more do you need?  How about a refreshing drink, using watermelon and Jim P.'s tempting recipe:

Sirloin or sirloin-chuck is tasty
Jim's Watermelon Margaritas
Make watermelon fresca by blending:
Watermelon chunks (It's ok to keep the seeds.)
1 cup, or so of water (Eyeball all ingredients.)
A few teaspoons of sugar to taste
The juice of one lime
Strain the blended watermelon juice to remove the solids and seed particles.

Take 4 oz of the mixture and add:
1.5 – 2 oz tequila
   .5 oz triple sec
Add a little more lime juice
Add a little more sugar, or syrup if you like it sweeter.
Blend in a shaker with ice.  Then serve it straight, or on the rocks.

Jim says “The agua fresca's good straight up too.”  Many thanks for the recipe, Jim, (and for being the impetus for learning a little Spanish).  What a fitting drink, along with comfort food, for a relaxing Labor Day weekend.


¡Buen provecho