Sunday, December 26, 2010

Let it Snow!

Merry {belated} Christmas! Wow - that went by FAST. But hooray for 2011 just around the corner. I like clean "New Year" slates, and it'll be my motivation to get out of holiday hibernation mode. Curse you chocolate reindeer, holiday cookies, and apple pie! (Well no, not really. I still love you despite my yearning for elastic waist pants).

What does winter hibernation entail aside from unabashedly going for that second helping of yummy homemade treats? Lounging on the couch in my parents' house, sipping hot cider, a Snuggie thrown over my feet, all the while snowed in - a blizzard blanketing the world (or at least Southern CT) in crisp, sparkling white. The wood burning fireplace is also cranking on full blast, filling the house with a light rustic smell. This smokiness always lingers on our jackets for the next few months, but it's New Englandy and memorable and utterly delicious smelling.

Given the snow accumulation of about 5-6 inches outside at the moment, it may require digging the car out bright and early tomorrow a.m. and shoveling a good portion of the driveway tonight. You know what though? I'm super excited to tackle both because...NEW SNOWBOOTS!

I purchased these heavy duty babies at the local REI just in the nick of time before the commencement of holiday season craziness. They're seriously warm, 100% waterproof, and uber-functional - all the while looking just chic enough for a dinner out on the snowy town. The faux fur cuff at the top even helps keep snow from falling into the boot - brilliant! They run true to size when wearing a thick wool sock and can be purchased online here and here.

Given hibernation, boots, and blizzard this wonderful time of year, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Wishing you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season and 2011.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

NYC Marathon - Race Day Recap!

Another year, another New York City Marathon. There's something incredibly inspiring about this particular stretch of 26.2: not only does this race attract over 40,000 runners from all over the globe, it unifies the Big Apple in a way no other sporting event can. Given it's THE event to attend on every second Sunday of November, the marathon connects the five boroughs by luring locals out of their high rise dwellings and onto city streets. By encouraging complete strangers to cheer in unity for a global community of determined runners (most of whom they will never cross paths with again), it creates a tight-knit sense of community in a city of 6 million+ people. Literally, for 26.2 miles, the sidewalks are packed with cheering spectators.

Undoubtedly, runners are thrilled by the outpouring of support and more often than not - become quite emotional. To be honest, I can't blame them. At the finish especially, the final stretch is flanked by approximately 3oo country flags. Making the final turn onto Central Park South, it's not uncommon to witness runners with tears of national pride and joy from personal accomplishment streaming down their faces. If that's not moving and inspriational, I don't know what is. Below are some photos I took from the day's event, stationed at Mile 17.

Inspiration pure and simple.

The elite female runners.

They were running at approx. a 5-6 minute-per-mile pace.

Elite male runners approaching mile 17.

They were running at a blazingly fast 4-5 minute-per-mile pace.

View down 1st Avenue.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tea Time

Changing of the seasons; onslaught of The Cold. You know when you just start feeling the slightest hint of one coming? That's when it's time to drink this cold-buster tea by Traditional Medicinals. I'm a believer, and prefer steeping 2 tea bags in one mug just to make sure I get a good dose of immune-boosting echinacea before hitting the hay - especially if I'm feeling particularly icky. The taste? Slightly sweet, bitter, herbal lemony-perpermint with a hint of citrus. Add some honey and steep for 10-15 minutes for maximum benefits. See ya later, sniffles!

*Disclaimer: be sure to check the website/ingredient list to ensure this medicinal tea will be good for your tummy. Also, it is not intended or recommended for long-term use.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Weekend Sailing Fun

When there's wind...

It's time to go sailing! And what a stellar sailing weekend it was. Saturday, my Father and I went out for a day sail on the Sound on a family friend's 48ft boat, Dawnpiper. We happened to come across a regatta just as boats were rounding the downwind mark and flying their Spinnakers. Very colorful!

Here are some more snapshots of the day, along with a short video...hopefully it will work...(at the end of this post) of us cruising along at 6-7 knots.

Today was strictly a race-geared day out on the Sound sailing First Tracks; a 25ft Beneteau. The waves were on the rougher side, making for a fun ride through 4-5ft swells. The wind was blowing 20-25 knots and it was slightly overcast this afternoon, so foul-weather gear was donned and my camera stayed put in the dry bag below deck (hence lack of photo documentation). But here is one picture of First Tracks being rigged - a sleek nimble sailboat built for speed. The sails are made of Kevlar which is why they have a distinctive yellow tint to them.
Overall, the ideal sailing weekend. The very last race of the season is next weekend, so fingers crossed there's both wind and fair weather!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Back in Business!

Hello again, Internet. Oh, how I've missed you so!

What a wild ride the past several weeks have been. Exciting update: new job! I feel like Princess Ann must have felt zipping around on that moped. Which, unquestionably so, has been the main justification for my lack of posts - after all, transitional adaptation is top-priority stuff. Another reason posts were on hold though: lots and lots of traveling including many a weekend excursion. Summer, it's so sad to see you go. Is it just me, or did the Halloween candy hit the shelves extra early this year?

However, now that I'm comfortably settled into my new position, (though still semi-adjusting to the new commute), I'm rearin' to get going with some new Printed Thoughts. So, dear readers, merci beaucoup for your patience. Time again to give this little portion of the web some much needed TLC!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Food (and recipes) for Health

Until today, I did not know that cabbage is an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids, or, that half of a medium avocado has more potassium than a banana. And get this: artichokes are good for our eyes?

Recipes for Health, featured in the Fitness and Nutrition section of The New York Times, highlights an impressive list of tasty fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains always found on the perimeter of our grocery store aisles. There are some eye-opening and interesting nutritional factoids to be found in this article series, as well as delectable recipes that feature each food as the "hero" in their respective dishes.

Take a gander and read all about these super foods here. And cheers to a summer of healthy, fresh, and vibrant cooking!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Word (or two) on Buckling Up

The very first Printed Thought blog post debuted in September of 2009. I delayed discussing the following subject because it occurred only a month previous, in early August of last year. At the time, it was a little too raw, (and to be honest - not the most uplifting topic for a first blog post), so I saved it and its important accompanying images for almost exactly one year later.

Just shy of a year ago, my younger sister was in an automobile accident on her way driving to work on a rainy summer morning. Thank the Heavens she didn't even have a scratch after a precautionary visit to the ER, just some resulting back and neck soreness from whiplash, but it was a profound first-hand reminder that seat belts, undoubtedly, save lives.

Seat belts help restrain both driver and passengers to their seats in the event of a collision. When worn correctly, the lap belt (which rests over the pelvis), and the shoulder belt (which extends over the chest), apply most of the stopping force to the rib cage and pelvis, relatively sturdy parts of the body. The power of inertia is humbling; if a car is hurtling down the road at 60 miles per hour, so is its driver...although he or she may just be sitting there seemingly motionless from an interior perspective, with one foot on the gas pedal. Which means, if the vehicle were to suddenly come to an abrupt stop, the contents inside the vehicle would still be moving at 60 mph. In that event, it would be quite noticeable that the inertia of the car's contents are absolutely independent of the car's inertia.

According to a research report from the National Highway and Transit Safety Administration, seatbelts save approximately 13,000 lives in the United States each year. Furthermore, the NHTSA estimates that 7,000 U.S. car accident fatalities would have been avoided if the victims had been wearing belts.

So as a courteous safety reminder, dear readers, please buckle up whenever you get into a moving vehicle (even if it's in a NYC taxi). Remind those around you to follow suit. If you're the driver, it's ultimately your responsibility that your passengers have their seat belts fastened. Not only is it the primary and/or secondary enforcement law in 50/51 states, it's also the simplest action you can take to help ensure that you and your loved ones arrive at any given destination, safely.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

On the Ocean Blue

To me, summer in New England stands for the beach, ocean, sand, sun, and sailing. Lots and lots of sailing. Ok, and it also stands for delicious Summer-specific foods too, like grilled corn on the cob, pasta salads, and fixen's on the grill...but sailing is definitely right on up there with the quintessential American S'more.

Growing up in Connecticut only a mere 10-15 minute drive from the coast of Long Island Sound, my sister and I quite naturally turned into mermaids at the end of June, spending every conceivable moment in the water. We also went to sailing school religiously. Each and every day. And that's where we both learned how to sail.

Little kids start small by learning the basics of sailing in the pint-sized Optimist (they're really cute if you've ever seen them bobbing out on the below). Starboard here, Port there. That's the Bow, that's the Stern. Additional learned skills include understanding wind directionals, tacking, right of way, basic knot tying, and how to rig and care for a boat. Then, a few years later after one is old enough, weighs enough, and has mastered the necessary techniques, graduation is learning how to sail and race a

Needless to say, I never grew out of the Lasers-are-so-much-fun! phase. It's the perfect 1-2 person boat. Straightforward to rig, very fast. Very fun. Very portable. Three years ago after seeing a "For Sail" ad for a gently used 2002 race-ready Laser, my father and I jumped at the chance and went 50/50 on it. We christened her the Minnow II.

I find sailing both relaxing and challenging at the same time, which is why it's my #1 summertime outdoor indulgence. There's always a sense of adventure involved, and I've always loved exploring little uninhabited islands on the Sound, ones only accessible by boat. Talk about the ultimate picnic destination! I'm also humbled by the wind and waves; the sailor is always at the mercy of Mother Nature. Having the ability to harness wind power to make a boat go towards a desired destination can, at times, make a sailor really think and map out a mental plan of action. Above all though, I admire that the art of sailing is a lifelong learning process. Skills are most often learned and retained through hands-on experience, and one truly absorbs them best when adapting to ever changing wind patterns, weather, tides, and caring for a craft that demands constant attention.

The inaugural summer launching of the
Minnow II was a couple weekends ago. Though, I'll admit it took a few extra hands to make sure all was sea-worthy before setting sail after a long winter hibernation, it was purely exhilarating to be out on the water again. I wish there had been a bit more wind, but luckily for us sailors, summer has only just begun.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chia Pet, Apt. Garden

Oh, dear. Looks like this past month's recent warm and sunny it's finally Summer weather has succeeded in keeping me far from the confines of my apartment dwelling. Thus, my blog set-up here has, quite noticeably, been lacking many a Printed Thought.

On the bright side though, my Vitamin D levels are totally up! Taking advantage of fantastic weather has in turn, given my New Englander skin a much needed healthy glow (a glow btw, that is virtually undetectable 7 solid months out of the year).

In light of beautiful weather and today being the first OFFICIAL day of Summer where everything is green and in bloom, I thought I'd share with you a little side project of mine. An herb garden. No, I certainly don't have the luxury of an outside balcony, or for that matter, any room for large potted plants, but I DO have a multitude of cooking pots. Behold: the Chia Gourmet Herb Garden (thanks E!). Easy to care for, easy to grow. And thankfully, kinda fool-proof for someone whose scraggly apartment plants haven't fared too well in the past.

Though my kitchen is indeed the size of a closet, take a gander at some sprightly Cilantro and Basil! My Chives haven't poked through the Chia-Pet soil yet, (I'm afraid something went wrong and they're a lost cause at this point), but I do have some more Basil seeds to throw in there and plant. Can never go wrong with more basil. It is, after all, an essential summertime indulgence.

You might be wondering why these little sprouts are hanging out in a cooking pot? For sure, my roommates have inquisitive looks on their faces every time they reach for one to boil pasta. Well, as it turns out, these Chia Herb Pets demand A LOT of water. Everyday. And let's face it, I may have forgotten this essential ingredient once or twice...or especially after returning from a long weekend away, only to discover them wilted and pathetic looking. So, as a time-saving, plant-saving solution, I just water them all at once by keeping them in a cooking pot by the window. The Chia potting soil draws up water from the bottom of the pan and bingo - there you have it. In no time, it'll be time to harvest. Click HERE to learn more about the Chia Gourmet Herb Garden and to purchase one of your very own!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The MET and the American Woman

How exciting! Now on special exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity
May 5, 2010–August 15, 2010
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall, 2nd floor

According to the MET's website, the exhibit, (which will probably entice me to go dress shopping at Bloomingdales directly after), " the first Costume Institute exhibition drawn from the newly established Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Met. It will explore developing perceptions of the modern American woman from 1890 to 1940 and how they have affected the way American women are seen today. Focusing on archetypes of American femininity through dress, the exhibition will reveal how the American woman initiated style revolutions that mirrored her social, political, and sexual emancipation. "Gibson Girls," "Bohemians," and "Screen Sirens," among others, helped lay the foundation for today's American woman."

Pretty ball gowns, cocktail dresses, sparkly heels, chic clutches? I'm so there. But, if you won't be able to make it to the Big Apple in time, here's a fantastic virtual exhibit tour via YouTube. The mannequins kind of creep me out, but those dresses, oh the dresses! It's like learning American History by way of frocks, fabrics, patterns, embroidery, lace, sequins, and tulle. How very lovely and empowering!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Zebra Inspiration

The countdown is on: I promised myself I'd be hitting the hay and asleep tonight by 11:00 p.m. at the latest, so a super-quick blog post it must be. This being said, check out these gorgeous Zebra-print towels from pottery barn; on sale now! I'm so sad to see that this print has apparently been discontinued from their line, (hence the deeply discounted closeout prices), but after viewing the Bathroom Inspiration photo (below) in one of their catalogs, it immediately inspired me to hunt down zebra towel replicas at my local HomeGoods.

Indeed, dark-stained wood, a crisp white floor, baskets, zebra print, and a couple vibrant green plants added to the above vanity would quite possibly culminate into a bathroom filled with my favorite colors and patterns ever. While the renting-of-an-apartment (with outdated and tiny bathroom) forces that to stay in my design notebook for the time being, at least I can now relish in my very own stash of safari towels and therefore, bath time chic-ness.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

I was reading USA today the other morning and came across this sweet "Ode to Mothers" in a Procter and Gamble advertisement. Though it is indeed an ad, it's still a super cute Mother's Day poem of sorts; this being said, Happy Mother's Day to you, Mom! Thank you for everything you do, and being there for us each and every day. We love you. 

- Oven Zest & The Printed Thought.

Mom will ask you to wash
your hands and wipe your feet.

To mind your manners.
To cover your mouth when you cough.

Mom will ask you to not jump off a cliff,
even though everyone else is.

To stop making that face or it will freeze that way.
To stop fighting or she'll turn this car right around. 

Mom will ask that if you don't have
anything nice to say, to not say anything at all.
To remember that money doesn't grow on trees.

To do your homework, clean your room,
keep your elbows off the table and eat your vegetables.

To not forget your jacket. To brush your teeth,
wash behind your ears and wear clean underwear.

Mom will ask you what you want for breakfast,
when you need a ride home from practice
and if you have any clean socks.

Mom will ask you to be kind and patient.
To be a good person, call your grandparents,
work hard and pay your bills on time.

But there's one thing Mom never asks for:

Thank you, Mom. Happy Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Seasonal Gazpacho Craving

One of the tell-tale signs Spring and Summer are right around the corner is when the delicious, cold, tomato-based, raw vegetable soup called Gazpacho starts appearing on restaurants' "Soup du Jour" menus. Since Gazpacho is a seasonal soup that disappears over the cold winter months, Spring (and warmer weather) for me always initiate intense Gazpacho cravings. As in, if I see it listed on a menu, there's a 99.9% chance I'll be ordering it. But, let's be realistic. I'm on a city-girl budget here, so to stretch my dollar a little further, I like whipping up vats of it from scratch using my baby Cuisinart. Hello generous portions of Gazpacho for lunch and dinner all week!

There are many variations of how gazpacho can be made; the consistency, ingredients, toppings, etc. Having studied abroad for a semester in college in Spain's Southern region of Andalusia (Gazpacho's indigenous homeland), I prefer as basic as a gazpacho can get. Not too chunky and not too pureed or over-processed. Garnish with croutons, shaved cucumber, olive oil, avocado, and pour a glass of Rioja to accompany.

Gazpacho is very simple to make - win! And its also super healthy. Raw, dairy-free, and an excellent serving (or two) of nutritious veggies. Turning to culinary master Ina Garten and her to a T recipes of pure genius, this gazpacho recipe of hers is just that. Perfect. Delish. The quintessential melding of cold, sweet, and tangy flavors suitable for a sweltering day. Here is a photo of my homemade Gazpacho, though for a party - look how posh it looks presented in shot glasses!

Buen Salud!


Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Copyright 1999
Serves: 4-6


1 cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 ripe plum tomatoes
1 medium red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups organic tomato juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil - preferably Spanish
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)


1. Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable into the food processor separately and pulse until it is coarsely chopped; do NOT over-process!

2. After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer the gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Good of Social Media: Meet Walter.

More often than not, news stations thrive on broadcasting disheartening and depressing stories. Fires. Deaths. Robberies. Natural disasters. (Not exactly your morning picker-uppers over a cup of coffee). BUT, every once in a while, an inspiring snapshot of selfless people doing good in their communities graces our television sets. Individuals who are making a positive impact. Even saving a life.

Such is the story of Walter, a 2-month old Pit Bull-mix who has recently become something of a four-legged celebrity throughout the 5 boroughs of NYC. His story has appeared in local newspapers, blogs, and even on News Channel 7. Badly abused then abandoned by being thrown out of a car in Brooklyn, NY on Easter Sunday, Walter was severely dehydrated, malnourished, his skin burned by chemicals, and he was suffering from a debilitating case of mange. He was then discovered on the street by a young man named Alex, who collectively with his friends took on the endeavor of helping him recover.

Arriving at the Veterinary Emergency Referral Group then sequentially at the HOPE Veterinary Clinic, Walter's diagnosis was deemed curable, though with a long road ahead of him, and he was received into the friendly and caring arms of Veterinarians. However, overnight stays, medications, and intensive care quickly brought on an onslaught of steep medical bills. Unwilling to sacrifice this innocent puppy's life for inability to pay for his care, Alex and friends brilliantly turned to the powers of Social Media. Via setting up a "Help Save Walter" Facebook Page and Blog on Blogspot, they were instantly able to share Walter's story with hundreds of friends, family, and coworkers. Then, within the span of only three weeks through viral communication, Alex and his friends had raised enough money to cover all of Walter's medical bills. Walter's Blogspot now has 160 followers and his Facebook Page - more than 5,000 fans (both of which are growing as I write this!). And now that their monetary goal has been reached to cover Walter's care, any additional funds collected will be generously donated to the ASPCA.

The success of Walter's ongoing recovery is credited not only to the kind hearts of this group of friends from Brooklyn, but by Social Media; the means by which Walter's story could be shared so quickly and efficiently. His Facebook Page and Blog were vehicles for letting his story touch the hearts of thousands; his pictures and videos, enabling fans and followers to feel a personal connection to him.

In the words of Walter's new family, they hope his story will inspire all animal-lovers to donate their money, volunteer their time, condemn animal abuse, and have the heart to adopt neglected, homeless, and abused animals, whether they be in shelters or on the streets. Because all of these innocent creatures like Walter deserve a better life, and are in desperate need of loving families.

Walter's Blog

Walter's Facebook Page

Walter on News Channel 7


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Groovy Beat by Corinne Bailey Rae

There I was, slowly awakening to the world this past Tuesday morning before work as I stood in a midtown coffee shop, pouring soy milk into my black dark-roast coffee. The sun was shining, my caffeinated concoction tasted delish, and to top it all off, I was having a great hair day (if I do say so myself). Perhaps it was a combination of these things that inspired me to really tune into the groovy beat that had just started playing overhead through the cafe's sound system. What a beautiful voice! Who was this?! I quickly whipped out the "Shazam" app on my iPhone to tag it.

Corinne Bailey Rae is my new favorite artist, though she has been recording for some time now; you may recognize her song titled "Put Your Records On". The one I initially heard, also linked below, is titled "Call Me When You Get This". Her voice, her music, her lyrics; gorgeous and unique with a swishy jazz style. I highly recommend checking out Corinne's website and adding her as one of your stations on Pandora for some feel-good/chill musica.

Call Me When You Get This by Corinne Bailey Rae

Play song from
Corinne Bailey Rae - 2007 - 5:02

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Water from the Coconut

Eight weeks until half-marathon "go-time." Panicccc. Actually, I do feel as if my running has been progressing, but I'm still recovering from the lingerings of a nasty cold which really threw a wrench into the gears for a solid week and a half. Coughing. Congestion. Sneezing. Symptoms that are NOT conducive to the 6-mile long-run.

Nevertheless, I'm back up and running and have recently discovered the ultimate sports recovery beverage for both pre and post-workout! Coming to a grocery store (or already in) a health-foods store near you: Coconut Water.

I decided to give it a whirl a while back because I'm constantly trying to hone-in on methods to prevent the crippling "side-stitch." For me, its onset is usually a result of eating a meal too soon before running, drinking too much water too soon before running, not having enough salt and/or electrolytes in my system, or being slightly dehydrated throughout the day. Coconut Water is the ultimate cramp-buster, I swear. Entirely all-natural with no added sugars, fat, cholesterol, colorings, chemicals or preservatives, it is low-calorie, chock-full of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and boosts more potassium than a banana. Think of it as nature's sport drink.

For more than 4,000 years, coconut water has been revered as a natural source of hydration, nutrition, wellness, and beauty. Present-day, coconut water is harvested from young, green coconuts - approximately 7 months old (before the meat grows) - and is usually flash pasteurized. Naturally containing the 5 essential electrolytes the body needs to keep nerves firing, muscles moving, and to help handle stress - potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, sodium, and calcium - they help prevent muscle cramping as well.

Low in acidity with a pH of 5, incredibly, coconut water has also been used to save lives. Particularly in World War II and the Vietnam War when IV solutions were in short supply, coconut water was actually used as an intravenous solution to prevent dehydration. In fact, it is the only natural substance that can be safely injected into the human bloodstream (though drinking it, of course, is the preferred method).

There are three prominent coconut water brands on the market that I've encountered thus far: ZICO, O.N.E., and Vita Coco. They all taste pretty similar to me, though their fruit infusion flavors vary. I recently purchased ZICO's mango-flavored coconut water because it was on sale at Whole Foods. As far as the nutrition label is concerned, here's a snapshot from the back of my 1-Liter carton.

60 calories per approximately 11 oz. (1 serving). Not bad for the nutritional benefits to be gained from this miracle fruit! p.s. You can also freeze coconut water instead of regular water for ice cubes. Margarita on the coconut-water rocks anyone?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Hold the Bag, Save the Dough

I've traveled to Washington D.C. only a handful of times (and counting!), but here's a story about a girl, a carton of Soy Milk, a plastic bag, and a 5-cent tax. A tax, yes, in the sense I had to part with my hard-earned cash, but a brilliant, potentially-revolutionizing tax that in my eyes, is a progressive step towards greener communities and more sustainable environments.

Before you think I'm crazy, first things first:

1.) No. I do not enjoy paying taxes.
2.) I don't think anybody in their right mind particularly enjoys paying taxes. (If you do, let me in on your secret).

So now, here goes the little story: I purchased a carton of soy milk at a natural foods market this past weekend in D.C. The cashier inquired if I needed a plastic bag. The thought crossed my mind and I briefly debated her question in my head. Pictures of tattered plastic bags blowing in the wind fluttered through my cerebrum. But, against my better judgement, I said yes - "Sure, throw it all in a plastic bag." Side note: I had some other things to carry at the time, I always reuse plastic bags anyway, and my thinking was that it would be handy to consolidate my goodies for fear of dropping them splat all over the sidewalk.

Big mistake. To my out-of-towner dismay after glancing down at my freshly-printed receipt, I had just paid a whopping 5-cents for that flimsy plastic bag. What was that all about?!

Turns out, on January 1 of this year, a 5-cent tax law came into effect for Washington D.C. One of the first of its kind in the nation, the tax is designed to change consumer behavior and limit pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed - specifically, the Anacostia River with collected revenue directed specifically towards the clean-up project. Under regulations created by the D.C. Department of the Environment, bakeries, delicatessens, grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores that sell food, as well as restaurants, street vendors, liquor stores and "any business that sells food items," are required to charge the tax on paper or plastic bags. Signage is posted at the register explaining the law, and vendors must ask the customer if he or she would like a bag-with-purchase. As an incentive, stores keep one cent of every five cents they charge for bags, and two cents if they give customers a credit of at least five cents for each bag (of any sort) that they bring to the store.

Slightly inconvenient, yes. But totally worth getting into the habit of toting along a reusable bag to avoid the additional charge. It's a win-win situation, really. Cut down on disposable bag consumption and simultaneously aid the Watershed clean-up. And the tax is working. Already within a few months, District residents have drastically reduced their use of disposable bags and have adopted using reusable ones more quickly than expected. The D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue estimates that city food and grocery establishments handed out about 3.3 million bags in January, a drastic reduction compared to the estimated 22.5 million bags issued per month in 2009. And according to a recent March 29th article published by the Washington Post, the District's 5-cent bag tax generated approximately $150,000 during the month of January to help clean up the Anacostia River. (A lot of dough for a lot less paper and plastic).

To be honest, after being taxed on something so avoidable, I was slightly irritated. But, after a brief moment of frustration, my better judgement sank in. I don't know about you, but plastic bags are seemingly everywhere I look. Stuck in fences. Snarled in leaf piles in Central Park. Floating along in the East River. Being handed out two-by-two in double-bag form at Drug Stores and Supermarkets around NYC. Whether or not you believe in global warming/climate change, it can not be denied that tattered plastic bags on the ground, in rivers and streams, on the the side of the road, perhaps even in your front lawn, are unsightly and have a negative impact on the environment. Eventually, they all end up in landfills, (if not in the woods or river bottoms). Super ick.

So, while it may require a little extra planning on your next trip to the grocery store, and sure - can be a slight inconvenience from time to time, I think this tax is an incredibly effective solution for solving two pressing issues: curbing disposable bag consumption by encouraging environmentally-responsible shopping practices, and cleaning up the local environment by directing tax revenue towards the project(s).

A hands-on lesson and policy learned that was worth my 5-cents at the time. Though, you can be assured this budget-minded city dweller will be bringing along a tote bag or hand-carrying any Nation's Capital purchases in the future.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lovely Letterpress

My friend and I recently stumbled upon this
adorable little stationary shop in Manhattan's West Village: Greenwich Letterpress. SO CUTE! To paint a picture, this sweet store is located in the heart of the quintessential, romantic New York City neighborhood. Imagine narrow tree-lined streets, old brick pre-war buildings with shutters, terraces, secret backyard gardens, and wrought iron fences. So, so lovely. Alas, it also happens to be one of, if not the most expensive neighborhoods to live in rent-wise throughout all of the five-boroughs *sigh* but hey, a girl can dream.

Anyway, we venture into Greenwich Letterpress to do a little pre-dinner, spur-of-the-moment perusing, and what a fun surprise! A word about the fledgling graphic designer in me: I could spend hours oogling over stationary, stamps, greeting cards, paper, knick-knacks, and the creative like. All the inspiration and design possibilities that lie within such retail shops are simply enthralling! (I think my heart rate actually increases when I step foot inside a paper store). Reason being, in this technological age where we have at our disposal ever-increasing means by which to communicate instantaneously with one another, receiving a hand-written note in the mail on a real piece of beautiful stationary from a close friend or loved one is becoming a lost art. Very sad. Which is part of the reason I love pushing my creative limits designing and then mailing out notes and letters; they're often unexpected, yet widely appreciated upon receipt!

I adore Kate's Paperie, Paper Source, and Papyrus, don't get me wrong - but, there's something so home-grown feeling about shopping in an independently-owned, small business card shop (operated by two very creative sisters - Amy and Beth). Props to them for standing their ground amidst an ever-expanding competitive corporate market. With their expertise, they're keeping the Art of the Printed Word (and thought) alive, reviving a disappearing method of communication - cheers to you, ladies!

Greenwich Letterpress is unique in the fact they specialize in custom-printing solely utilizing the letterpress technique. While they offer a variety of other brands' greeting cards, stamps, paper, and post cards for sale, this artisan, very chic-looking letterpress style is textured and simply beautiful in a antique-preppy-bohemian sort of way. It is relief printing of text and image, which results in giving greater definition to both the type and artwork. This printing exhibits a sort of retro look and has a very high-quality look and feel to it.

Furthermore, this little company takes extra effort to be kind to the environment. As stated on their website, all of their
paper is either made from 100% post consumer cotton or 100% recylced, and all inks are soy-based. Their work is produced using 100$ wind energy (which means no carbon footprint), and they are a featured member of Greenopia, as well as some of the founding members of Greenprint. What's not to love about cards and a company that's devoted to all that?

Below are some examples of their pre-designed greeting cards for sale. Check out their website, blog, and on-line shop for more creative offerings! I hope their cards will provide you with a little design inspiration of your very own.
As for myself, I predict a weekend excursion to Greenwich Letterpress again in the near future, and new-found motivation to get back on the card-designing and letter-writing bandwagon.

Greenwich Letterpress
39 Christopher Street (b/w 6th and 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10014

Tuesday-Friday 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday Noon-6:00 p.m.