Archive for January, 2010

Store Visit: Mountain Equipment CoOp

January 29th, 2010

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At the beginning of January, I flew up to Toronto to make a few appearances on behalf of Method to unveil our Method Laundry detergent.  The product was hitting store shelves in Canada first (and it’s now rolling out in the US in stores like Lowe’s, Duane Reade, Walgreens, Wegman’s, Whole Foods and Target) and I had the opportunity to be somewhat of a Method Goodwill Ambassador to the media on this trip.  

If I had to choose one word to describe Toronto, it would be this: COLD.   

So my venturing into the neighborhood did not take me far, but where it did take me was to the Mountain Equipment CoOp store, a unique shopping experience that is Canada’s leading supplier of outdoor equipment and gear.

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Upstairs, as I was trying on sneakers to replace the shoes that were soaked in snow and mud, I saw this interesting landscape painting hanging by the railing.   Upon closer inspection, I realized it was made entirely out of intricately placed mountain climbing ropes.  Incredible!

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A closer up shot of the ropes, all woven here and there to create the colorful landscape.

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This board fascinated me and made me love the store even more: a gear swap board.  Yes, a store that sells gear is encouraging its customers to swap unneeded gear with each other.    Can you imagine a jewelry store trying this?   People swapping unwanted watches for bracelets or vice versa?  They would never allow it!  

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In-store composting…

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Their Share the Warmth winter gear collection is really inspiring.    I could feel first-hand how cold winters in Toronto got and could only imagine someone who didn’t have the proper winter clothes living up there.   This inspired me think of some ideas for my US retail partner—JCPenney–and see if we can do some kind of collection campaign.  I’ve got something cooking for Earth Day!  More to come on that…

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They set-up a tent where people could despoit their donated winter gear and clothing.    Very cool!

For more information visit www.mec.ca.

Help Pick! 2010 Publicity Portrait

January 28th, 2010

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In the past few years, we’ve done an annual photo shoot of publicity shoots to offer magazines, newspapers and TV shows (for teasers about segments) of me doing whatever it is that I do best.   These photo shoots have to be done annually because photos end up being published hundreds of times and—let’s face it—I do get older.   

This year, my friend and amazing photographer Laura Moss shot my official 2010 PR photos in my new home and I thought I would ask all of you with some help in choosing one as our official pick.  

The top one is me crafting away in my most favorite room of the house: the craft room.   Here I am glazing a plate to be fired in the oven after the shoot.

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I love my new kitchen and I’m in there all the time cooking up a storm.   I love seeing the original hood vent incorporated into the shot, along with all the eco-renovations so prominently featured, including the recycled glass/concrete countertops from IceStone.

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This shot works for me because it shows the decorative side of the home: the dramatic fireplace, the mix of textures and colors, the strands of LED lights hanging in the backdrop.    I even love the paintings I bought at auction can be seen in the background, too.

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And we shot this one in the foyer as I was just lacing up my shoes for the next shot.  And guess what? It made it into our final picks.

I don’t mean this post to be so narcissistic or self-centered, it’s just I need help.   I hate looking at pictures of myself and I just can’t see clearly.  All I see is “my chin looks weird” or “that shirt makes me look really fat” when I pore through these pics.

If you could comment what your favorite choice is—craft room, kitchen, living room or foyer—I would so appreciate it.   I will also randomly pick one winner to win a giant box of Method goodies as my way of saying thank you.

Etsy Finds

January 27th, 2010

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I’m late to the game, but lately I’ve been finding myself spending hours just looking (and shopping) at Etsy.com at all the ingenius, fun and clever handmade treasures over there.    Just search the words “recycled” and THOUSANDS of pages come up.   One brilliant idea after another, I thought I’d share some of my favorite picks and link back to the artists so they can get some Daily Danny attention and hopefully some sales!

First up: this Lego journal.   As a child, I played with Legos and and now my nephew has been obsessed with them as well.  It’s nice to see a non-electronic toy stands up to the test of time and I think this quick and easy upcycling project is a brilliant and fun one. \

From the designer “MoonLightBindery“: 

New for valentine’s Day! The covers of this fun book are made out of two upcycled 2.5″ x 5″ (8×16 peg in geek speak) rectangular LEGO® base plates with a heart. The paper is 70 lb. white 100% recycled paper suitable for writing or drawing. There are 6 signatures with 8 pages a signature for a total of 48 pages (or 96 if you count front and back sides.) Also included are 15 flat LEGO® pieces so you can create the cover of your choice AND a LEGO® separator so you won’t break a nail moving the pieces around! This is the FUN part – go minimalist with theplain cover or add some color with the pieces.

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Another heart.   Maybe I’m on a Valentine’s Day kick, here?     This one is made entirely out of intricately placed zippers into a clay base.  It’s a pin, but I think it could be used for a myriad of things.    Designer BOGATE says:

Using vintage and recycled zippers, this brooch is made by gluing sections of zippers onto a polymer clay base. The different colors of both the zipper and the teeth provide contrast and texture and a decorative pattern is achieved by shaping the rows of teeth into different shapes. I made this brooch with the thought of love and Valentines Day. It only contains zippers in shades of reds and pinks.Rather than just gluing a pin finding to the back of the brooch, you will see that an additional layer of polymer clay has been baked over the pin finding. No need to worry that the glue won’t hold – a pet peeve of mine. This pin has been made with exquisite attention to detail and excellent workmanship.The brooch comes packaged nicely in a stylish black/grey pinstripe box. Keeps it safe in transit and makes it really easy to give as a gift.The last three pictures are representational only to show you the back, the size of the pin and what the gift box looks like.The heart is approximately 1 1/4″

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This totally reminds me of a project I did here when I took old crayons, melted them, and turned them into marbelized butterfly crayons.  Except this Etsy artist —in my opinion— did a much nicer, cleaner, more fun job by turning them into numbers.

From artist IvyLaneDesigns:

In keeping with the recycled/upcycled theme, we offer an educational set of ten (10) handmade number crayons. The perfect size (appx. 1.2″ x 1.6″) for little hands. It is never too early to teach our children about helping the environment.
 

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This one, folks, is something I’m thinking about buying.    It’s a handcrafted mobile using Belgian Ale bottle glass as the stained glass.   Artist “WesternArtGlass” says:

Made to order…allow about a week for the customary quaffing and obligatory mando-mayhem in the background, before the official send-out!

Reclaimed empty amber ale bottle bottoms from Belgium: Chimay Premiere, Trappistes Rochefort 8, and Tripel Karmeliet (similar bottoms may be substituted by availability). The glass is wrapped in lead and soldered to copper rods, and connected with rings and swivels.

Etsy is lots of fun and a great alternative to find gifts, home accessories, jewelry and much more at affordable prices, all supporting artisans and crafts folks around the country and a great source to find something original and one-of-a-kind.

I bet I could find hundreds of things I love on the site, but for now, these four are speaking to me.  Have you bought or sold anything on there?   Or more importantly: have I bought anything from you?  (A few dozen of you should speak up!).

Before Meets After: Backyard Makeover

January 26th, 2010

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Someone once asked me at a booksigning if I actually write my own books.   Or if I actually produce my own photo shoots.   Or write my own TV scripts.    Really??   I think this is the #1 reason why I’m putting together a reality show; yes, I do all of this and I’m there side-by-side with our team of stylists and producers doing everything from painting to scooping up rat poop.    

Which brings me to this: a Style Network makeover I did for the new show “What I hate About Me.”   Now, don’t start leaving comments how the word “hate” is so negative and how this show just makes women feel bad about themselves…  if you haven’t seen it, the show is nothing like that.  It’s very empowering, lighthearted and makes the women who say they “hate” something about themselves realize they can embrace it.    Me..off..soap..box..now.

The above photo is the before patio they asked me to makeover.    When I got to the house, my first thought was “what is that smell?”    Followed by “I have to makeover what in how much time?”

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A few hours later, we did it.    I scooped up rat poop behind some furniture.   We made homemade chalkboard paint and painted the back wall using a zero VOC paint.    I repurposed the never-used ping-pong table into a giant outdoor entertaining table, covered in washable canvas.   We used outdoor curtains, LED string lights to mimic cafe lights, and repurposed all of the surf boards and paddles to decorate the space.   Not bad, if you ask me!

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Beat up cabinet that was sitting there for who knows how long….

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Made into a fun bar and revamped MacGyver style.   Some leftover cream paint to cover it and some found Grandma lace to stencil it with something interesting.   When you start with  junk that you can’t decide if it’s worth keeping or throwing away, I always so try something new and different.  If you’re not married to it, why not?   This was as simple as placing the lace on top and spray it with a water-based paint.  Remove lace and voila! pattern.

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Our makeover “victim” was a bit of a tomboy—founded a surfing club for women—so I thought it would be fun to use a skateboard I found in the heap of stuff as a lazy susan of sorts on the table.    All of the items on the table—the runner, lanterns, cups, plates, etc—all come from JCPenney of course.

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And another shot of the finished space.  I love these circular rugs placed on the ground.  They are designed for outdoor use and really warm up the space.   If they get dirty, you can just wash them with a hose.    (Available only online at jcp.com).    Out in LA, there is a fabulous art director/stylist who helps me out on many shoots: her name is Jules Moore.   She was instrumental in turning this around quickly with me.   You can learn more about her at www.julesmoore.com.

A Dollar at Goodwill…

January 25th, 2010

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Whenever I do a TV segment or magazine shoot, I have to buy multiples of products and supplies to show the various steps it takes to get from Point A to Point B in a project.    So, if I’m showing a project on recycling CDs into a dumbbell, I need to buy 1000 CDs to have everything from raw supplies, interim semi-completed projects and finished examples to show.   That’s why I love Goodwill for things like this: they have ample supplies of donated goods, it’s cheap and all the money used to buy these items diverts it from landfills and supports a worthwhile nonprofit.

So, one day, the manager at my local store asked me what on Earth I do with the shopping carts full of items (e.g. cassette tapes, sweaters, Christmas ornaments in July).   I explained what I did for a living and he gave me a discount card; if Iever bought anything in bulk again like this, they wanted to make sure I got a break on price.   Yeah for that!

So, today I saw piles of dusty silk flowers for sale and was given the chance to buy this pile for a buck.    Why not?

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Who doesn’t have ugly silk flowers in the attic or basement?   And who hasn’t seen them for sale at the thrift store.  I’m not a fan of them, personally, but I saw this as a challenge to “upcycle” something ugly into something practical..but what?

First, I started by sorting the flowers by color and removed the green leaves.   They looked the fakest to me… so maybe we can group the flowers by color?   

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Group them by color and tie them all together using inexpensive florist tape.   Wrap it around and around and snip off the stems as you go along.

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And there ya have it: a gift topper.   Just wrap a gift simply in recycled brown kraft paper, tie with some bakery string and knot the silk flowers on top.      Okay, is this the MOST innovative thing I’ve come up with here on the blog?  Hell no.   But it’s definitely something I’m sure anyone would love to receive as part of a gift.    One dollar for about 6 gift toppers: not bad.