Elevate Difference


Marimekko Iloinen Change Purse / Red Flashlight Pendant

To an outsider in search of a good meal, what is perhaps most striking about Helsinki are the vegan options. In every restaurant, you will find lactose- and meat-free meals without requesting special treatment. As this aspect of Finnish life becomes more greatly incorporated into the wider culture, it isn’t uncommon to find vegan designers like Pinkkis. Dainty donuts, plastic veggie brooches, and soft cloth pouches are all made from reused, recycled, and all vegan materials in her smoke-free, Helsinki home.

Chesapeake Necklace

Moonrise Jewelry had me at hello. The woman-owned and operated, Virginia-based, eco-friendly company doesn't simply produce amazing jewelry; they "design, manufacture, and sell high-quality handmade jewelry while adhering to values that contribute to a stronger and healthier global community." Are you in love yet?

Stark Ring

I love simple. - Stacy Christopher The Seattle-based jewelry maker of Stacy Christopher Jewelry does indeed. The beautifully elegant and thoughtfully minimalist Stark Ring arrived in a simple brown, tuck-top box with the image of a crow hand-stamped on its face.

Rosehip & Hibiscus Facial Lotion / Tea Tree and Vinegar Toner

Rosehips and hibiscus have long been combined in teas. Rosehips provide vitamin C and are also a source of A, D and E. Rosehip tea is said to prevent bladder infections and ease headaches. Hibiscus tea contains phenolic compounds, reportedly a positive in preventing heart disease and promoting arterial health. A 2008 study linked hibiscus tea to decreasing hypertension. In India, hibiscus is used in medicinal Ayurvedic preparations and hair care. This is my first topical experience with the combination, and it is positive. Truly organic natural lotions are at least half plant-based.

The Tara Mala

In my search for tranquility, I have studied many ideologies. Try as I might, the perfect fit continues to elude me. For a while, my journey became a process of acquisition, a gathering of the choice pieces from a plethora of spiritual options. My evolving cafeteria-style spirituality most closely came to reflect the tenets of Taoism, even though I just could not quite wrap my mind around the whole of formal Taoist practice.

Howdy Booby Time Organic Body Wash (Rosewood Lavender)

Breast cancer. I hate it. Obviously it is not that I like any type of cancer, but I have a very special place in my dark chest of hatred for breast cancer. I do not know what it is exactly… maybe that most of its victims are women? Or maybe it is because it nearly took my beloved Aunt Anny away from me, twice. So I take it personally and everyone else should too. If statistics are correct (and I hope they aren't) one in six women over the age of fifty will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, which means that we are all potential targets of this terrible transgressor.

Little Black Rabbit Necklace

Black Rabbit Handmade Jewelry is a mother-daughter team with a combined background of jewelry design, fine and graphic art, photography, and textile arts with a shared love of art, design, culture, and beauty. The duo says that they “hope, more than anything, that our jewelry will bring joy to the wearer, and will enhance her own sense of personal beauty.” I especially appreciate that sentiment because for me, self-adornment is a creative ritual.

Birds of Paradise Earrings

Not ever being one to splurge on jewelry, I’m often times frustrated by the cheap and mass produced items I find myself buying off racks in department stores. I am no stranger to a green finger, a necklace that breaks as I’m putting it on for the very first time, or an earring that manages to fall off in transit, which always provides for a few strange glances once I arrive at work.

Rosemary Body Lotion

A Spanish proverb states, "Where rosemary thrives the mistress is master." I've had to give up gardening, but perhaps I should keep a pot of rosemary in the kitchen. Folklore states that it's an aid to memory, with a half-dozen antioxidant compounds. An abortifacient in high doses, it mitigates capillary weakness and rosemary leaf was approved for dyspepsia, high blood pressure, and rheumatism by the German Commission E at doses of four to six grams a day.

Lean and Sexy Stiletto Green Pearl Earrings

Most of the time pearls remind me of housewives circa 1950. Well, maybe into the '60s too. I just started watching the first season of Mad Men, and pearl jewelry seems to be a common gift guiltily given to the suburban, home-bound wife after returning from an afternoon in the city with the bohemian, Beat-loving mistress, or to the sexy secretary banged by the boss.

Brass Angel Bracelet

Full disclosure: I borrowed three bracelets from Belle Style to review, and subsequently requested two of them as gifts. This one, while definitely an interesting and well-made piece, was not one of them. Of the three bracelets, this was the most masculine and different from many of the other pieces on the company's website.

Mandarin Maximum Moisture / Sweet Orange & Silk Protein Styling Gel

'Orange' is an unrhymable word. Of course, you can get around this by utilizing some poetic license. Willard Espy's “The Unrhymable Word: Orange” jams with enjambment by informing us that: "The four eng-/ineers/Wore orange/brassieres." I don't own an orange brassiere, but I am fortunate to own both a rhyming dictionary and some fine John Masters Organics products. Admittedly, I go for orange because I like the scent.

Upcycled Box

When I met my friend Jo at Café Coffee Day, I brought a gift for her with me: York Peppermint Patties. My mom gave me a bag full of the tiny circular treats before I hopped on a plane to return to the place of my temporary residence. From time to time she sends me care packages with miscellaneous unattainable American goodies that can’t be found in Kolkata’s plentiful markets: grits, nutritional yeast, black beans.

Long-sleeved Black Red Star T-shirt

You can wear your heart on your sleeve, or your politics on your chest. Ban T-shirts—“redress your world”—provides political t-shirts on themes including the political, environmental, organic, anti-war, Native American, and anti-religious. They break it down from the EZLN to GMOs, and have the sense of humor to send up some traditional idols by combining Manson's face with the iconographic image of Che Guevara. A sign of fanaticism: no sense of humor.

Glass Bird Pendent Necklace

I live in a city so overrun by crows that some days I am sure I'm stuck in some Hitchcockian nightmare. Every morning I wake up to the birds' cacophonous squawking, a sound that is now lodged in my psyche in the most obnoxious way. I don't have to set an alarm clock; by 6 a.m. I am sure to be awakened by the ubiquitous chorus of caw.

Sunscreen Soap 10 SPF

No one wants skin cancer. But if lighter-skinned people avoid the sun, there's vitamin D deficiency. What to do?

Vulva Portrait Pendant / Gush! Menstrual Pads / Vegan Lip Balm

Would you send a photo of your vagina to a stranger online? Sounds like a MySpace porn scam, right? In one particular situation, you’d be totally wrong. As I write, I have a replica of my own vulva around my neck. It is amazingly accurate and arguably one of the more tasteful pieces of jewelry I own—assuming you aren’t offended by my own very special vagina. I’m not. My necklace—and matching charm—are based on a photo and description I sent to Vulva Love Lovely, an Etsy shop that celebrates all things vaginal.

New York Times 'Half The Sky' Issue

In July, I wrote a post about Nicholas D. Kristof's announcing a "special issue" of the New York Times Sunday Magazine that would cover women in the developing world. Well, that issue is now available online, and will be arriving to the doorsteps of NYT subscribers in a few days.

Bit of Arts and Crafts II Ceiling Fan Pull

It’s hard to know exactly how to describe a product that is, at once, so lovely, functional, and distinct. The Trace Ellements ceiling fan pull is a handmade, sturdy item that consists of smooth moss green and deep caramel swirled beads held together by thick brass wire. It can easily fasten to most ball chains, and adds a nice burst of color and elegance to an otherwise undecorated ceiling fan. It doesn’t matter whether your fan has a wooden finish, though it certainly complements a brown backdrop.

SPF 30 Mineral Sheer Moisturizer

Everyone has been telling me to increase my consumption and application of, and general proximity to, antioxidants for quite some time, now. A science enthusiast, but minimally educated in the field, it was worth perusal. Of course, I had always thought of oxygen—clean pure air, number eight on the periodic table, part of water—as good. Apparently not. At the cellular level, it can cause the metabolic processes to get funky (that's a technical scientific term) and cause irregularities that may contribute to cancer and disease. Antioxidants mitigate this decay.

Pamela Blouse

I'm not sure I understand why companies give clothing items actual human names. No doubt it is because the article unearths a memory from the depths of the designer's mind of some random babysitter long since forgotten or perhaps a high school classmate with whom they have fallen out of touch.

Slate T-shirt

George Carlin once observed that a house is where you keep all your stuff, until you have too much stuff, and then you get a bigger house so that you have enough space for your stuff. I appreciated the Annie Leonard digital video The Story of Stuff.

Shea Butter Lotion Fruit Slices / Goats Milk Glycerin Soap Orange Sherbet

When you unwrap a package made, wrapped, and tied by another person’s hands, it’s immediately evident. It might be a splatter of color where there wasn’t one intended, or a crooked label, a smudge. But whatever the indication, it has always given me a moment’s pause and endeared me in a special way to whatever it is I’m holding. So it was with Norma’s Bath and Body Products—a sense of the person who’d put something of herself into making the thing I was about to enjoy.

Found Object Necklace

Found object art first made an impression on me studying the Dada movement in a mixed media sculpture class.

State Quarter Necklace

Readers, Wabisabi Brooklyn’s State Quarter Necklace has got me feeling conflicted. You see, I've always had a fondness for small acts of rebellion: sneaking a few beers as a teenager, slapping "this is offensive to women" stickers on public advertisements, getting it on in the coed bathroom at an indie rock show. I know these things aren't going to change the world, but a little transgression makes for funny stories and hours of mischievous entertainment.

Ballchain Ruby Bracelet

This lightweight, 7.5" bracelet features an Italian sterling silver ball chain and three charms. The trio starts with a sterling silver heart that's anything but girly—it has a raised, medieval-looking cross in the center. In the middle, a rough-cut ruby-colored Swarovski crystal looks like a bit of pirate's booty. Rounding out these funky charms is as small, round silver charm features a picture from Rafael's "Angels" painting. The effect is a cross of punk and dainty (e.g., I am feminine, hear me roar).

View From Above Earrings

I'm going to use a word that I detest. You know how there are some words that just grate on you nerves when you hear them? In the past decade the most popular obnoxiously overused word was probably nucular, the oft-repeated Bush botching of the word nuclear. But aside from mispronunciations, are there words that make you grind your teeth when they flow off someone's tongue? Perhaps what ticks you off is cursing, or hearing the anatomically correct words for one's "down there" junk.

Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History Necklace

"Well-behaved women seldom make history," Harvard professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich wrote in an article about Puritan funeral services. Feminists embraced the sentiment and now the phrase (as well as the misquote “well-behaved women rarely make history”) can be found on a vast array of consumer goods, from coffee mugs to t-shirts, bumper stickers to compact mirrors.

Small Decorative Mosaic Tile Bowl

My paternal grandmother had a thing for butterscotch and caramels, and as the ubiquitous good hostess, she kept the sugary treats in a small bowl in her living room to offer house guests upon their arrival. I always wondered what the deal was with these two particular candies, which seems be favorites among a geriatric crowd. Perhaps this is simply my own ingrained stereotype gained as a result of my grandmother's ever-present hospitality that I now choose to imprint on the world.

Silver Metal Cuff

I don't do dangly bracelets. Perhaps it's the residual punk rock girl of my youth who influences the aesthetics of what I wear around my wrists, but I just can't bring myself to get down with chains and charms and all of that froo-froo stuff when it comes to arm adornment. For me, it's cuffs, bangles, or bust. Tano Jewelry's Silver Metal Cuff ($14.99) is the epitome of what I look for in a bracelet. It's chunky, but not too heavy. Its design is interesting without being too busy.