Archive for July, 2010

Christmas in July

July 30th, 2010

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A few weeks ago, in the 100 degree weather up and down the East Coast, I decided to celebrate Christmas in July.

Allow me to explain before you think I’ve lost my mind: as a former magazine editor, I can tell you that we work on ridiculous long-lead time.   So, we’re planning Halloween in April; New Year’s ideas in August; and Christmas gift ideas in July.     So part of my job for JCPenney is to shoot all of our new holiday merchandise in early July to create “lookbooks” that we share with editors now so they can see how beautiful green products can be (and hopefully share these items in their December/January issues of their magazines).

So, here are some of my favorite pics from the Christmas in July shoot with you!

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These Simply Green reusable cups and thermoses are products I’m particularly excited about.   In addition to the traditional thermoses that come in metal, we also have containers that look just like the disposable containers you get at, say, Starbucks, but are in fact reusable.   The iced coffee cups are double-walled, dishwasher safe plastic with a colorful reusable straw.    You just fill it up with your favorite iced beverage, tighten the lid on top and sip away.    No “sweating” on the sides because of the double-walled design, too.    The COOKS brand reusable coffee cups are adorable, aren’t they?  Just fill with your favorite hot beverage and tighten on the sippy lid; the integrated silicone sleeve keeps your hands protected and the whole thing is dishwasher safe.

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This horse.   What can I say about this amazing white horse?  He was so friendly and so wanted to be photographed that we ended up using him for the lookbook.     The rule with photo shoots is usually “NEVER CHILDREN AND ANIMALS!” but I’ll make an exception for this guy.   Here he is posing with our new Simply Green JCpenney reusable holiday tote bags.   Naughty or Nice? 

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And finally, my all-time favorite lamps from the JCPenney Studio line.    I love the fact we are one of the first retailers to launch a lighting program that features LED technology in the lamps, AND at affordable prices.    These brushed stainless steel lamps feature the high-tech, mercury-free LED lighting in both a table and floor lamp style.     They use a fraction of the energy a CFL bulb uses, is made without mercury, and illuminates beautifully in any room with a soft, yellow glow.  Love them.    AND, in stores now!

So, here’s a sneak peek at Christmas in July for me.   We shot more than 30 product images and I can’t share all of them with you (would not be fair to the magazine editors), but I hope this sneak peek is enough to get you to come into JCPenney this Christmas to see what all the eco-fuss is about.

Sand Art

July 29th, 2010

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When I was down in St. Thomas for a quick break during the 4th of July holiday, there was this sign outside the restaurant that I admired and wanted to figure out how to make.  I was told there was a very simple process of using sand and “magic milk” to make a plaque just like this, along with seaglass and whatever else you wanted to embed in the sand.

Going through my digital camera the other day, I decided to give it a try at home using some decorative sand and shells I had in a jar in the craft room.

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Supplies needed: bowl of wet sand, a bottle, shells (or pebbles, seaglass, etc) and quick drying plaster from the craft store.

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Instead of trying to make a plaque (which would need a wider bowl and more sand to play with), I stuck with trying to make a coaster to hold a candle instead.   So, I stuck the wine bottle into the sand to make a mold.

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Once the mold was set, I pulled the bottle out slowly and placed shells on the bottom, with the pretty side of the shell face down in the sand.   These were shells I collected from a trip to Amelia Island, Florida last year, so it was kinda fun to see them again!

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Mixed the quick drying plaster and water together.   Here’s something I learned the hard way: just recycle an old carton instead of messing up a bowl.   I’m using a Silk soy milk carton here to mix it together.  No fuss, no mess, and just easier to mix things up and pour straight from it.

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Pour it in on top of the shells and let it dry!    As I’m writing this post, it’s still drying and since it’s getting dark outside, I’ll have to post the finished pic later.    But my intuition is telling me this will work (and I snuck a peek).   Not sure this is a great beach day craft project (be weird to have you sitting on the beach mixing plaster with sea water while others are trying to take a nap in the sun), but still: easy peasy project.

My Do Just One Thing

July 28th, 2010

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Well, nobody is perfect.

I write a column called “Do Just One Thing” that appears either daily or weekly in newspapers across the country.  It’s syndicated by Universal Syndicate and it’s a fun way for me to share all of the eco tips that I learn throughout the year with lots of people every single morning.

Even though I’ve written close to 1,000 tips now—ranging from ideas to save energy to tips to saving money on organic produce—I still need a little fine tuning of my own to live a little greener each day.

Here’s what just came out of my wallet: Ten NYC Metro cards.

Yes, these plastic cards are refillable.

Yes, I have 10 of them with random balances on each of them.

And, no, I don’t refill my cards when I should be when I’m in NYC taking the subway around.

First, the optomistic viewpoint: this proves that I’m sticking to my “no taxis” rule and taking public transportation to get around NYC.  So, one green point there, yes?

Now for the negative:  I’m too forgetful to simply refill my cards when I need to put more money onto them.

In fact, one of my Do Just One Thing tips in the past was to “pick up a stray subway card off the floor and recycle it as your own; insert into the machine and refill it with credits and zip off on the subway.”    

So, I’m here today to confess I’m not even following my own advice on this one.    So, first step is to bring these all to NYC with me, combine them into one card and and figure out what to do with the 9 other cards (upcycling, anyone?).

Here’s my Wednesday confession and now I feel I can go on with my day!

A Visit to Kelly Green

July 27th, 2010

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There’s a store I’ve heard about for the past two years that I’ve never, ever had a chance to go visit because of my usually hectic schedules when I’m in Los Angeles.   This time, I flew in on a Sunday morning, which gave me the entire day free to scout, shop and try to see the missing parts of Los Angeles I’ve been dying to see.   (Confession: I’ve learned the only way I can give myself free time is to not tell anyone I work with my real schedule; almost everyone assumed I got in Monday morning, so hence my secret Snow Day).

Anyway, Kelly Green is one of those shops and I’m glad I stopped by because it was one of these stores dedicated to sustainable products that had a very distinct philosophy about design: it can be green and look good, too.

This recycled wall hanging (it was about 2 1/2 feet across, maybe 3 feet tall) is colorful, Anthropologie-esque and made by artisans who took trash material to make something beautiful.   I was thinking there must be a way to incorporate this into one of my celebrity client’s homes, right?
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The jewelry selection at Kelly Green is probably the strongest there.    It had all the feel of a well curated jewelry case at Barney’s New York, minus the Barney’s sky-high price tags.    Sliced agate is my new obsession lately and I have agate at my house used as coasters.    Should I try to get into the jewelry design business?   Nah..I’ll just admire.

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Fun pillows.   Very “GOD SAVE THE QUEEN” British style, don’t you think?  The pillows are a little scratchy, making me guess they were made from wool.  But the person at the store informed me it’s made from 100% recycled respun PET from plastic water/soda bottles.

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Loved, loved, loved these colorful and biodegradable planters.    I need these for a terrace garden I’m working on….

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A closer look at the label reveals it’s a biocomposite of bamboo.   Really, is there anything bamboo can’t be made into?    I liked these planters best because unlike regular plastic planters, these can have an end life in a degradable state.   And unlike terra cotta pots, they are more durable and lighter to transport.  I think we have a winner.

The Details:

Kelly Green

4008 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Neighborhood: Silver Lake

(323) 660-1099

Silverlake Shopping

July 26th, 2010

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I’m out in Los Angeles a bit more these days working with actress Emmanuelle Chriqui, who stars on the show “Entourage” on HBO.   I’ve been helping her re-do her new West Hollywood home (all green of course), all while trying to  balance the myriad of jobs that I have at the same time.    I’m definitely enjoying every minute of it and I especially like the fact I get to visit stores in Los Angeles that have been on my “must visit” list for quite some time.

In the Silverlake section of Los Angeles (East LA, up by Sunset) there are some great independent stores that I visited and wanted to share here on Daily Danny.  One of them is this very charming store called Yolk.

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Inside the store, there’s a nice selection of handpicked items ranging from the standard Gift Show fare to unheard of accessories from designers from all over the world.   I immediately gravitated towards this bamboo chair with the carvings in the seatback as something I thought was particularly unique.    The funny thing is that this was the first store I visited in Silverlake, this was the first thing I loved, and this chair was something I saw REPEATEDLY in shops all over Silverlake.  So much for unique….

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But this was definitely a unique find.    This artist takes vintage plates and laser cuts them into silhouette shapes.    Yes, you can’t eat off them anymore, but I love the fact this peaceful dove could be upcycled from an old plate.     This is definitely one of those ideas that a crafter like me could NOT replicate, but still…love.

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Fun seat cushions.    Might use these in a magazine photo shoot since I’m adding more pops of color now to these stories I put together.   Gotta remember this…

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I don’t love this piece as a necklace, but I liked the craftsmanship that went into it.  Make sense?   The circular “beads” made from old fabric that are glued into concentric circles are kinda cool to me.   It gives me ideas for projects for my book on upcycling that may or may not make into the final book, but can still be an inspirational photo.

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I also love bookstores and stopped by the Skylight Bookstore to check out new architecture, interior design, graphic and cookbooks that they had in stock.  Me in a bookstore can be a very dangerous thing…

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And why wouldn’t you love this store with a large tree right smack in the middle to greet you?    While I love the big box bookstores, I really love the mom-and-pop stores even better.    This store had a feeling that everyone in there was on a mission to find some perfect book, for the perfect day, for reading for the rest of the day.