Sustainable Tourism, Part 1: My Stay at the Queen Anne in Denver

About a month ago, M. and I took a little vacation to Denver. We had been desperately in need of a non-family-centric trip, and neither of us had ever been to Colorado before. So we booked our plane tickets and then started searching for accommodations.

I was determined not to use AirBnB for our trip. We’ve used AirBnB before, with little to no issues, but there have been a lot of accusations of racism surrounding the platform itself. There’s also the possibility that AirBnB is jacking up the cost of housing in cities that are already impossible for lower-income residents to survive in.

Unfortunately, hotels, another alternative, are not the most environmentally friendly. Hotel rooms are (typically) stocked with little plastic bottles of toiletries that are changed out with each new guest, increasing the unsustainable consumption of plastic. The bottles may not be recyclable, and even if they are, who knows if the hotel actually follows through on recycling? Breakfast is usually served with single-use, nonrecyclable, noncompostable items too, like plastic coffee stirrers, plastic-coated tea bags, and packets of creamer. And I doubt the major hotel chains follow ecofriendly, low-waste practices when it comes to cleaning and laundering.

So cue the bed and breakfast (henceforth referred to as the B&B). To be honest, I’d never considered the B&B to be an attractive accommodation. I had this image of B&Bs as old-fashioned and stuffy, thanks to a whole lot of television shows and movies that seemed eager to feed me this stereotype. But when I started exploring our accommodation options, I kept seeing the name “Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast” in my search results. The Queen Anne was in our desired neighborhood, close to a lot of attractions, and in our price range. And, it billed itself as an ecofriendly business, one that uses low-waste practices, organic bedding, and organic toiletries. I was intrigued, to say the least. We took a look at their website and realized that a room with a hot tub in the Queen Anne B&B was the same price as a regular hotel room in the same area! We were sold.

It was easy to find the Queen Anne once we landed in Denver. The B&B is located in a quaint up-and-coming neighborhood an easy bus ride away from Union Station. The Queen Anne actually comprises two buildings, one of which hosts the dining nook and common area. As we walked up to the door of the main building, we marveled at the beautiful flowers lining the pathway. I had never seen so many butterflies in one place in my life, which (to me) was a good sign of a healthy ecosystem. (M. later informed me that the ridiculous number of butterflies was due to migration patterns. Still awesome.)

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The entrance to the Queen Anne. To the right of the door you can see a sign proclaiming the building’s historic nature!

Once we had our fill gawking at the flowers, we rang the doorbell and the innkeeper came out to greet us. She was extremely friendly, and gave us a little tour of the common areas. There was even a beautiful backyard for relaxing in. She pointed out the herbs, peppers, and leafy greens that were growing around the house/B&B, and mentioned that the B&B kitchen often harvests from the garden for their daily breakfast preparations. My green, food-loving heart soared upon hearing this.

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Some of the herbs growing in their garden.

After the tour, we set out to explore our room: Gallery Suite #2. It’s called the gallery suite because the walls are decorated with pieces from local artists. Gallery Suite #2 is one of the most expensive rooms in the Queen Anne, but we wanted to treat ourselves (although it’s still affordable compared to some hotels out there).

The bedroom area had an exposed brick wall with an inset stained-glass window, a vanity area (with desk, lamp, and mirror), a record player, an armchair, and a bench by the window. The bed was plush and cozy, and according to the Queen Anne’s website all of their mattresses are made with recycled metal coils and sustainable green tea insulation foam. Their bedding is supposed to be 100% organic cotton, “undyed and unbleached.” However, the pillowcases and the duvet cover are certainly not undyed (they are gray, as you’ll notice from the photo), so I’m assuming that by “bedding,” the Queen Anne’s website is referring to the actual sheets (which looked undyed to me). When I took a closer look at the gray pillows, I did notice one of the tags stated that the material was polyester. Unfortunately, I forgot to investigate the fabric tag on the sheets themselves.

The bathroom was outfitted with a cast-iron tub and the usual toiletries (all from companies that tout themselves as sustainable). The shower gel, conditioner, and shampoo were all located in a large refillable dispenser, which is meant to reduce waste by allowing the B&B to continue refilling the dispenser from bulk containers rather than buying and replacing smaller bottles. (If you look closely at the photo below, you can see the dispenser reflected in the mirror.) There was also a sign on the bathroom wall detailing the B&B’s ecofriendly policy of changing linens “between guests or on request only (towels on floor or in tub).” I really like this policy because it reduces excessive laundering (and therefore reduces excessive water consumption). If you’re staying at the B&B for more than one night, you really don’t need to have a new batch of freshly laundered towels brought to you every day.

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Now, to the hot tub area. The hot tub was located at the end of a small hallway. There was a door separating the bedroom from the hot tub room, and the hot tub room also had a door leading out to the B&B’s backyard, in case we wanted to have some fresh air wafting in while we were “tubbing.” We felt quite spoiled. It even had multi-colored lights!

Once we were done tubbing, we decided to check out the Queen Anne’s “happy hour.” The happy hour is a little meet and greet that is hosted in the B&B’s common area every day from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Local wines and local cheeses are served, and the guests can mingle as they choose. M. and I were happy to sample the wine, which was delicious, and we took a few too many servings of cheese and crackers. . . .We didn’t mingle much, because we are a bit introverted, but the other guests were friendly and seemed to be enjoying their stays as well.

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After a good night’s sleep, M. and I woke up early the next day because we were curious what the B&B’s homemade breakfast would be like. We were not disappointed. On the menu that day were homemade waffles with blueberry compote. Oh, it was so delicious.

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Homemade waffles!!!

The breakfast was served on ceramic plates (reusable!), and we were each provided with a ceramic mug for coffee or tea and a glass for water or orange juice. The coffee was from Novo, a local supplier. There was also tea (my caffeine fix of choice). The tea was supplied by Mighty Leaf, and according to the label on the box the sachets are compostable, but unfortunately each sachet was wrapped in what appeared to be a plastic bag. 😦 Every other bit of the breakfast was wonderful though, and M. and I made a pact with each other to continue waking up early each day of our stay, since we didn’t want to miss the other breakfasts!

On the second day, we had the great fortune of having breakfast cooked for us by the owner himself! He made us a mushroom and spinach omelette with cherry tomatoes and guacamole, garnished with chives from the B&B’s garden. Again, so good!

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The omelette, prepared by the owner himself!

We also had the opportunity to chat with the owner for a little bit once he was done in the kitchen. We learned that he has owned the Queen Anne for about eight years now, and that he used to be a professional chef (no wonder the breakfasts are so good)! We also met his parents, who happened to be visiting him and were helping him out. It was great to see behind the scenes and get glimpses of the owner and his family; I got the sense that the owner truly cares about his guests. Not only was he cooking for everyone, he was happy to take the time to give M. and me a long list of recommendations for where to go in Denver after we expressed that we weren’t sure what to do that day.

On our third and last day, the Queen Anne kitchen continued to delight. The featured breakfast that day was scrambled eggs with chives from the garden and paneer cheese, a fresh-fruit cup (served in a ceramic ramekin), a green chutney, and Indian flatbread (possibly chapati). I was pained knowing that that we would be leaving that night. Oh, how I miss those breakfasts now.

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Overall, we had a wonderful time at the Queen Anne, and I can’t wait to go back. In terms of our stay and enjoyment, I would give the Queen Anne Bed & Breakfast 5 out of 5 gold stars. Our room was cozy and comfortable, the hot tub was a delight, and the innkeepers and the owner were all extremely friendly and accommodating. Not to mention, the food was excellent!

But, how does the Queen Anne’s sustainability stack up? I think it’s clear that the Queen Anne is doing its best to be sustainably and ethically run. By using bulk soap dispensers, the B&B avoids excessive plastic consumption. By laundering only on request/between guests, the B&B avoids excessive water consumption. (According to the B&B’s website, the shower heads are also low flow, which saves even more water.) By using local ingredients in their breakfasts and happy hours, including ingredients from their own gardens, the B&B lowers its greenhouse gas emissions since its suppliers don’t have to ship or transport items very far. (Keeping a garden also aids local fauna [like bees and butterflies].) And by using organic cotton sheets and sustainably made mattresses, the B&B both lowers its carbon footprint and supports sustainable manufacturing. Last, but not least, the buildings that make up the Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast are each over a century old; repurposing and preserving old buildings instead of tearing them down can be more sustainable because you avoid using up energy to tear the building down and you avoid releasing greenhouse gases in the production of new materials for raising a new structure.

However, there are a couple of areas where the Queen Anne could improve. The gray pillowcases and gray duvet cover seemed to be made of polyester, which is certainly not sustainable. At the very least, I would suggest switching to recycled polyester for those parts of the bedding. I would also suggest finding a different tea supplier, one that doesn’t keep its tea sachets in noncompostable plastic bags. And, last but not least, while M. and I thoroughly enjoyed the hot tub, hot tubs are not very ecofriendly. They typically use chlorine to clean the water, and they consume a lot of energy. Unfortunately, I can see why having a hot tub in the B&B would be lucrative (it certainly attracted M. and me to the venue), so my best suggestion would be to try to replace their current hot tub with a more energy-efficient one or to retrofit it to be more energy efficient. (To be completely honest, I’m not sure what model hot tub the Queen Anne currently uses, so perhaps it is already the most energy efficient that it can be).

Overall, the Queen Anne is still much more environmentally friendly than a traditional hotel establishment. The owner and innkeepers clearly have a mind for sustainability, and I would much rather support a small business where the owner has a closer and deeper connection with the clientele and has an honest consideration for the environment. Additionally, the owner is a person of color, and I believe it is very important to help lift up businesses owned by people of color because my country (the United States) clearly has a problem distributing power and wealth equally—if the government won’t fight for equality for “minority” groups, then it’s up to citizens and consumers to do so with their voices and their dollars.

So, here’s my final verdict: using the Green Stars Project‘s system, I’m going to give the Queen Anne 4.5 out of 5 green stars! The Queen Anne could improve a little bit in two or three small areas, but overall it is doing a great job with sustainability. The owner has his heart in the right place, and I’m sure he’ll keep making strides forward. Staying at the Queen Anne also helps avoid the ethical and sustainability pitfalls of traditional hotels and AirBnBs, and supporting a small, local business that supports other small, local businesses keeps money and power in the hands of people who actually want to change our world for the better.

If you’re ever in Denver and looking for a sustainably and ethically run place to stay, go to the Queen Anne Bed & Breakfast!

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❤ S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)

A quick acknowledgment: This review does not consider pricing much at all, partially because that wasn’t the #1 most important factor for M. and I when we were selecting accommodations. M. and I are certainly fortunate to be able to be picky with our choice of venue, and I do not intend to shame anyone who uses AirBnB or hotels (or doesn’t travel at all) if those are your only financially viable options.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way to write about any organizations or businesses that I have mentioned. This post expresses my honest opinions.

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Being My Best Self: Going “Zero Waste” for One Month

Summer is starting to fade, and as the seasons transition into one another I find myself wondering whether I am being my best self: whether I am working “smart” enough, whether I am doing enough to pursue my creative goals, whether I am being a good friend/daughter/partner/sister/person. (Yeah, I get really reflective during these moments of in-between weather. . . .) And I’ve always felt that my best self would do more to care for the environment than just composting and buying from sustainable brands. Ever since I learned about Lauren Singer’s blog Trash Is for Tossers and the zero-waste movement, I’ve been itching to go zero waste myself. But I kept making excuses not to try: I’m too busy, I’m too tired, I’m too dependent on plastic-wrapped X item. . . .

All of these excuses were tiring me out, because at the end of the day I was still wracked with guilt over how many pieces of nonrecyclable plastic I had contributed to the landfill. The disconnect between my morals, my knowledge about excessive consumption and climate change, and my actions wouldn’t stop nagging at me. And with recent events like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, which were both exacerbated by the recent, manmade rise in ocean temperatures, I’ve felt increasingly anxious about my carbon footprint, not to mention the ridiculous carbon footprint of this gas-guzzling, war-mongering country that I am a citizen of.

So this month, I’m being my best self. And M. is joining me by being his best self. We have made a pact with each other to, for the entirety of this month, behave as if we are the ideal versions of ourselves. We will be the kindest that we can be to ourselves, to others, and to the environment, as the best versions of ourselves would be. We will be proactive in trying to reduce our carbon footprint and trying to join larger organizations that are working to change the narrative of this country we call home.

M. and I have had this idea for a while, and September seemed to work out well with our respective schedules. We each have our separate goals for this month, in accordance with what our individual ideas of “best self” are, but they work well in unison. My overarching personal goal is to go as close to zero waste as possible, and M.’s overarching personal goal is to have a healthier diet and exercise more. So part of our pact involves taking a jog to the farmer’s market each Sunday and buying our vegetables and groceries using reusable mesh produce bags and mason jars. We’ll cook at home, which is healthier and less wasteful because we won’t use any single-use items and we will compost any trimmings from the vegetables we use. In addition, the majority of our meals will be vegetarian. Several birds, one stone.

I like lists, so M. and I made a comprehensive list of the specific actions we aim to take. Here’s a sampling of what we’ve agreed to do:

  • Refuse single-use plastic bags.
    • We will bring our own mesh produce bags and our own reusable shopping bags to the store.
  • Refuse single-use plastic straws.
    • We will bring our own reusable straws.
  • Refuse disposable plastic utensils and nonrecyclable takeout containers.
    • We will bring our own reusable containers and reusable utensils.
  • Refuse single-use coffee cups.
    • We will bring our own reusable coffee cups when we want a caffeine fix.
  • Buy in bulk and cook at home.
    • We will buy groceries from the farmer’s market.
    • We will buy organic, free-range eggs.
    • We will use reusable mesh bags for produce.
    • We will trade off cooking duties.
    • We will prepare vegetarian meals.
  • Bring and use reusable napkins.
  • Compost consistently.
  • Exercise 2 – 3 times a week.
    • We will take at least one jog a week.
  • Buy ethically.
    • We will boycott Amazon.
    • We will buy from sustainable brands or buy vintage/preowned items.
  • Become more politically involved.
    • We will attend meetings held by local activist organizations.
    • We will volunteer for events or for political organizing.

There are a few exceptions to the above list of rules. We’ll be going on a short vacation to Denver this weekend, so we’ve agreed that we won’t be as stringent about refusing single-use plastic during our getaway (although I still plan to hold myself to these standards, M. will not do the same). Additionally, while the meals that we prepare at home will be vegetarian, we are not sticking to a strictly vegetarian diet; I’m still allotting myself about 3 meat-inclusive meals a week. Additionally, the above rules will not apply to medical issues, such as when we experience allergies or use contraception. Although I’m open to finding non-plastic wrapped versions of allergy pills, for instance, if I have to decide between forsaking over-the-counter medicine for the sake of going zero waste or living a sniffle- and itch-free life, I’m choosing the latter.

Because a lot of these behaviors are new to us, we’ve set up a “punishment” system for when we make mistakes along the way. We’ve dubbed this system the “Jar of Atonement,” although our nickname for it has become the “Shame Jar.” 😂 For every unskilled decision that one of us makes, whether it is forgetting to refuse a single-use straw or slacking on our exercise goals for the week, that person will put a dollar in the jar. At the end of the month, we’ll choose one social justice organization and one environmental justice organization, and donate half of the total dollar amount in the jar to each.

We actually started following these rules on September 1, so it’s been two weeks now since we started attempting a healthier, zero-waste lifestyle. At the end of the month, I’ll write a detailed post about the entire experience and some lessons I’ve learned, so I won’t spill the beans yet on how it’s going. You’ll have to wait a couple more weeks! Okay, well, maybe I’ll spill one bean: so far, I really like doing this. 😊

❤ S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)

My Summer Shopping Plan

It’s summer! Which means it’s time to lounge on the beach, plan some getaways, and get really sweaty. (I sweat so, so much in warm weather. . . .) Summer is also when lots of sales start popping up. The thing is, I’m on a mission to be a more environmentally friendly and ethical consumer. And that means buying less, and buying smarter. But I also like a good sale. What am I to do?

Well, here is my shopping plan:

  1. Make a list of things that I need. Then make a list of things that I have been wanting for over a year. Make it clear to myself what is “necessary” and what is a “want.”
  2. If there is a sale that might satisfy something in one of those categories, I will take a look at the sale.
  3. If I find the right item, I will put it in my shopping cart and consider it. The first question I will ask myself is: Was this item made in an ethical manner, with eco-friendly materials? If not, will buying this item at least help me be more environmentally conscientious in my daily life? If the answer is “no” to both questions, then the item won’t be bought!
  4. If I can answer “yes” to at least one of the above, then I will consider which category the item falls into. If it falls into the “need” category, I will ask myself: Do I really need it? Or can I live without it? Might it be possible to substitute something I already own for it?
  5. If it falls into the “want” category, I will ask myself: Will I enjoy this item if I buy it? Or will it fall into a forgotten corner of my closet or apartment after the novelty fades away? Is it possible for me to make this item myself?
  6. If I still believe the item in my shopping cart is a worthwhile purchase, I’ll buy it!

I’m hoping that my shopping plan will reduce any unnecessary spending on my own part. I also hope that the above shopping plan also helps me reduce the number of new items on my want list (because, frankly, whenever I look at a sale I always add something new to my “want” list).

Anyone else have a shopping plan that helps you reduce spending and shop in a more ethical manner?

By the way, if you’re curious what sales I’m looking at right now, here’s the roster:

  • Bambeco: 60 percent off sitewide (with some exclusions) using code FIREWORKS17
    • About the brand: Ecofriendly home goods. Not every item has a detailed description of its materials and manufacturing policies, but on each product page you can post questions to the company about their products.
  • Beacon’s Closet: No sale, but I love looking at what’s new in the online shop.
    • About the brand: A well-curated resale store, stocking lots of vintage and designer goods for affordable prices.
  • Brook There: 40 percent off using code SUMMER40
    • About the brand: Silk and organic cotton lingerie made in the USA.
  • Hanna Broer: No sale, but I’ve been coveting some more of their items after I bought a bralette and undies from them last year!
    • About the brand: Organic-cotton underwear and recycled-polyester swimsuits made in Vermont. I love that their models are a variety of sizes and ethnicities; diversity is important!!
  • Hazel & Rose: 30 percent off through Tuesday using code HBDUSA
    • About the brand: A boutique that stocks eco-friendly and ethically manufactured beauty products and clothing from a variety of brands.
  • Pact: 40 percent off sitewide! (Click “apply offer” in the little green banner that pops up on the top of the homepage.)
    • About the brand: Underwear and cotton basics made with organic and fair trade cotton! I have their boyshorts and they’re extremely comfortable. M. has their boxers, and they are very flattering. 😉
  • People Tree: Large sale section!
    • About the brand: UK-based clothing brand; modern styles for men and women, typically made with organic cotton and fair-trade practices.
  • Tradlands: 10% off of select items! Click the link on their front page.
    • About the brand: Shirts made especially for women; made in the USA, some items are made with organic cotton.
  • Zero Waste Daniel: There isn’t a sale, but I’ve been wanting something from this brand for a while now.
    • About the brand: They make basics out of 100 percent scrap materials discarded by Brooklyn factories!

Time to start browsing. . . 😀 I hope you all have a safe and happy week!

❤ S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)

Time-Traveling

Hello, hello. Welcome to my denim uniform:

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I’m visiting from the seventies. I was all ready to go out for a night on the town when some force pulled me into this weird future. I met the 2017 version of myself, who told me that I’m not actually going to go out and have fun tonight because we have a gigantic freelance project to do. She was very mean and gave me a lecture about the importance of hard work. Then she shoved a giant stack of papers in my hands, said “good luck,” and ran out the door.

I’m glad I was wearing sunglasses, so I could maintain my cool-girl look while tears rolled down my cheeks at the thought of doing work on a Saturday night.

In all seriousness, I actually do have a lot of work to do. It’s all my fault, really. I wanted to have some extra pocket money (especially since I have a major and expensive dental procedure coming up) so I took on a gig editing a two-hundred-page manuscript. Of course, as soon as I started working on it, I realized how much I hate not having free time. Especially since I’m the type of person who overexhausts herself on everything. Walk up to me on any given day and ask me what I’ve been up to, and I’ll tell you how I’ve been working on five different personal projects in the past three hours. (This may sound like a “humble brag,” but I am actually telling you about a huge flaw of mine, because I never actually finish any of my personal projects on account of my having so many things in my queue.)

I decided I would go work in a coffee shop today, and to cheer myself up I put together a fun outfit. Lo and behold, working in a coffee shop by yourself can be frustrating, because every time you need to go pee you need to pack up and bring all of your stuff with you (I don’t want to risk losing my laptop…). So I decided to try working at home. Now I’m sitting in the kitchen distracting myself by writing a blog post. Sigh.

This is the brooch I wore on my denim jacket today:

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Right now I feel like that person hanging from the rope.

Psst, I got the brooch at a thrift store in Hyde Park. For $3. I love thrift stores. They’re a great place to source unique fashion, and you’re helping keep these items out of the landfill (although not all thrift stores are alike in terms of how they handle unwanted donations, so do your research!).

I actually stopped in a thrift store on my way from the coffee shop (yet another example of how I have procrastinated today) and managed to snap some grainy full-length photos of my outfit:

My usual photographer (M.) is out of town this weekend, hence all of the selfies.

Outfit details: Denim jacket (thrifted); maroon wrap top (US-made); black bralet; air balloon brooch (thrifted); fringe-hem jeans (DIY); western-style brown belt; coral-striped socks; bright red kitten heels (thrifted, possibly vintage, perhaps from the 80s?)

My favorite part of this outfit is my shoes and socks combo:

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Look at that wonderful Waldo witchiness. Plus that fringe!! (You might recognize that fringe from this post. 😀 )

All right, I think it’s time for me to go. I hope you all enjoy your Saturday nights! Wish me luck with mine. . .

❤ S. (a.k.a. aMisplacedPen)

Blue Velvet

Last month, I officially left my early twenties. I have a lot of mixed feelings about how my mid- to late twenties are looking given all of the events of last year. A part of me wants to ignore the outside world and curl up into a ball. But I’m determined not to give into that impulse, especially since I’ve resolved to be community focused in the upcoming year. Once in a while though, everyone needs a day off. And what better reason to take a day off than your own birthday?

I ended up having three different celebrations, one with my family, one with my friends in NYC, and one with M. in Chicago. For my night out with M., I really wanted to make a new birthday outfit. Then, four days before our special date night, I realized my attempts to make a velvet dress were not going well… The bodice that I had sewn together was fitting poorly, I was exhausted from work and wasn’t sure I’d have enough time to fix the fit, and I wasn’t as enthusiastic about the pattern as I thought I’d be. The fabric was so beautiful though, I didn’t want to just give up…

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The fabric in question. Look at it call out to you!

Fortunately, I still had enough velvet material left for a skirt, and while I was back home in NYC I had made a trip to M&J Trimming and bought some beautiful Belgian elastic with a fleur-de-lis pattern on it, thinking it would make a lovely waistband. A quick and easy gathered skirt was my best bet. The velvet is striking enough by itself, so I knew even with the simple shape the skirt would still have high visual impact. I cut out two rectangles from my remaining velvet, added pockets in the side seams, and then, in place of a serger, used the zigzag stitch on my geriatric sewing machine to attach the Belgian elastic to the gathered rectangles of velvet. Add a few choice accessories, and viola! I felt rather “high fashion”:

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My photographer was not very pleased to be standing for ten minutes in a cold stairwell to take these photos for me…My expression here probably reflects how he felt during the photoshoot.
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Is it just me or is this photo blurry? Perhaps this will be my excuse for getting a new camera…And a tripod to replace my reluctant photographer. 😉

This outfit ended up being an extravaganza of ethical and eco fashion, which made me doubly excited to wear it out. My shoes, bag, and sunglasses are all from various consignment shops. The sheer turtleneck top I’m wearing was made in the U.S.A. My rhinestone clip-on earrings are from Vintage Underground. The rhinestone bracelet on my left wrist is from a thrift store that uses its profits to provide services for disenfranchised men. The watch I’m wearing is almost entirely biodegradable because it’s made (mostly) from wood!

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Some of the aforementioned accessories.

Last, but not least, the silver lipstick I am wearing is Perfect Foil, from Portland Black Lipstick Company. The lipstick is made in the United States from natural materials, and the parent company is a small business founded and run by a woman (a very nice woman, who sent me a personal email to confirm my online order!). I’ve tried two of Portland Black Lipstick’s colors so far, and Perfect Foil is a little bit drier than the other one, but that’s to be expected of such an intense metallic pigment. And even with the intense pigmentation, my lips didn’t feel too thirsty over the night.

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Look how shiny! (If you’re wondering why the texture looks rough, I used a lip brush to apply the color so there’s some weird nooks and crannies in the lipstick surface now…)

To match my outfit’s ethically conscientious attitude, M. and I started my birthday night at Lula Café for dinner. Lula Café has existed for almost two decades and makes a point of using as many local ingredients as possible. For my entrée, I had duck breast with truffle au jus and red rice risotto. It was sublime!

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Then we made our way to The Drifter for drinks and a show. The Drifter is a cozy bar set in a historic space and run by a woman named Liz Pearce. Fun tidbit: it’s actually not as common as you’d think for bars and restaurants to be owned or run by women (like many other lucrative industries, the food and beverage industries are very male-dominated…).

The Drifter appealed to me with their amazing cocktails and cabaret acts throughout the night, including a couple of burlesque performances. Burlesque fascinates me; I waver back and forth between looking at it as male-targeted titillation and thinking of it as empowering performance. It’s easy for me to forget that both of these views are gross simplifications; as with almost everything, there is nuance to be had. While M. and I were at The Drifter, we caught two burlesque acts, both of which were hilarious (one involved the performer’s buttocks moving to the rhythm of Mozart!). While I was sure that some of the people in the crowd were only at the bar to gawk at bared female bodies, the combination of humor and self-assurance that I saw in the women who were performing was definitely empowering to me. I came away with a lot of admiration and a desire to learn burlesque myself!

All in all, I had a really lovely evening. It was a good time to refresh in preparation for the years ahead. Tomorrow is going to be a long day, and I’ll need all the strength I can muster to keep fighting the good fight.

Wishing all of you equality, love, and peace.

❤ S. (aka AMisplacedPen)

Renegade Craft Fair

Flyer courtesy of Renegade Craft Fair's website.
Flyer courtesy of Renegade Craft Fair’s website.

I’ll keep it short and sweet this time, to give you a break from all of the essay-length pieces that I’ve been putting up! The Renegade Craft Fair is this Saturday and Sunday, an event I am very excited about. I’ve gone for the past two or three years in a row (maybe more?) and I always come away hopeful and inspired.

The point of the fair is to showcase the wares of independent artists and craftspeople. One of the ways in which I hope to build a more conscientious wardrobe is to buy from more local and small businesses. I figure that products made by hand in my regional area will create less waste than large batch manufactured goods, and I can also rest assured that the products I buy were not made in sweatshops. Renegade Craft Fair puts all of these independent businesses in one location for just a little bit, and I can shop even more conveniently. (This year I am on the hunt for a ring.)

While the above dates and location are applicable only to those in the Chicago area, if you live in a major city there will probably be another iteration of Renegade near you. And if you’re not a fan of this particular fair or don’t live in a major city, try searching around to see if there are other events showcasing your local artisans and small businesses.

That’s it from me. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

— S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)

(Just to be clear, no one is paying me to talk about Renegade Craft Fair. But if I’m going to talk about a business/brand/etc. on this blog, it might as well be something that aligns with my sense of ethics!)