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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Science Fair for December 22nd - 28th

Oh man I have not been online at all this week, you guys. I've been away from work since Tuesday afternoon, and running around doing the family thing until last night.

But for the last Science Fair of '08, I have to have something for you, right?

- Not only is there a Burger King fragrance, there's now a Twilight fragrance. (I do love lavender and freesia separately, but together? And a Hot Topic perfume for $50?)

- The release of the final Princess Diaries book, Forever Princess, is coming up in a few weeks, and Meg Cabot has released the first eighty pages!

- This has been the Christmas of me singing Santa Baby over and over (and searching for it on YouTube to little avail), and unfortunately we lost Eartha Kitt on Christmas. I'm sure you've been seeing these all over, but here she is in "I Want to Be Evil" and "C'est Si Bon":

- Finally, it's the time of the year when everyone comes out with their Best and Worst lists. Here's the round-up of Entertainment Weekly's Best & Worst of 2008.

Have a great week!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Fair Trade Fashion

In today's clothing market, you'd be hard-pressed to find high-quality items for your wardrobe that aren't made in sweatshops overseas under torturous conditions, priced up hundreds of times more than the wages paid to manufacturers' workers, and ultimately design-homogenized for the mass market. Whenever I walk into a store, be it H&M, the Gap, a little hole-in-the-wall boutique, or even an online shop, I consider my options--do I really want to pay this price for a dress made out of plasticky material, probably made by someone half my age working sixteen hours a day?

I'm not really crushed by this sense of guilt or impending judgement, but it's always something to consider. What kind of clothes are worth my money? How can I maximize my dollar, when money is tight right now? I am entering a phase of my life now when the wear-twice-throw-away quality of H&M's otherwise stylish pieces are impractical. Being in a new job, though, I'm still not financially stable enough to do the kind of wardrobe basics restock a la Tim Gunn's Guide to Style (I love you, Tim Gunn!). Obviously, corporations running chain stores like J. Crew, Zara, Banana Republic, United Colors of Benetton, et cetera, have masterfully cornered this market and pretty much clothe every working man or women between the ages of 18 and 45 in America today. I've started looking for other options. Other, new, exciting, affordable, fair trade, environmentally and labor rights-responsible resources for a little wardrobe refresher.

First up is out of the UK, Adili.com organizes their collections by age cohort, but don't let that stop you exploring! Here's an example of my one problem with a lot of fair trade clothing...it's just too expensive for what it is. I understand the reasoning behind it, and I do love this dress by Kowhai:

This knit vest by People Tree has the librarian-chic whimsy of a piece you might see at Urban Outfitters. Isn't that cute? But for nearly US$400, I couldn't justify that kind of expense. I want to be fiscally AND morally responsible! (Tip: a quick and dirty way to approximate UK pounds sterling in US dollars is to simply multiply the UK pounds by two.) Adili's shoe collection is a fascinating mix of crunchy-granola burlap-and-string sandals and super-classy, chic high heels. Tempting, no?

Also in the UK (why do they have all the best shopping? OH JEALOUSY) is Fashion-Conscience, where you can shop by your pet cause: organic, fair trade, sustainable, recycled, or vegan. These Amelia two-tone brogues are super-classy.
As someone whose wardrobe consists of a very basic palette and a ska fan, I have a deep love of two-toned shoes. The race-car red! The office-appropriate heel!

If you want a Nike alternative, the Autonomie Project has the spitting image of Converse low-top sneakers that are close to the same price as the "real" thing. In fact, Equita's whole "outlet" sale section has a great variety of bags, tops, and jackets for you and yours!

As you've probably seen recently in the mainstream chain stores, "organic" natural fabrics are a new, huge profit area. I think the fair trade movement is ready to move into the mainstream as well, as consumers become thriftier and try to shop with a conscience. We want our dollars to stretch further, and give our consumerism significance for the rest of the world. Don't you agree? I can't say that I will always buy fair trade, organic, or green, but I can try!

Images from Adili.com and Fashion-Conscience.com.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide: Last Minute Gifts and Stocking Stuffers

So last year Kati did the last-minute gift guide post... on December 19th. This year, you truly get it at the last minute -- December 23rd. Oops?

Usually I'm the one tearing around Borders on Christmas Eve ("omg, Mom really loved this movie in the 70s and I think we rented it once, so I'm going to BUY IT ON DVD HOORAY MOM IS DONE"), so I am well-aware that sometimes we need a little extra help at the last minute. So, you know, I'm ducking under the wire here too!

- We all know that gift cards are a very safe bet, especially ones that allow you the ability to send online. There's the classic Amazon.com gift card, the iTunes gift card, Shopbop, Zappos, or Shanalogic.

- I also always enjoy getting magazine subscriptions, since I almost never bother to subscribe to anything myself (I let my Nylon and my V subscriptions run out), and so this is one we suggest every year.

- If you find yourself lost in the wilds of Target today or tomorrow, check out the cute bath products from Soap and Glory. There's also the Sonia Kashuk tools, which I have a couple of and liked -- another Sonia Kashuk brush fan is Karen of Makeup and Beauty Blog.

- For a cute little stocking stuffer that you can likely find at your local drugstore, check out the Sally Hansen gift sets featured at All Lacquered Up, complete with swatches! Both the Holiday and the Deep set are great little mini-collections.

- Stuck at the office up to the last minute, but you've got access to PayPal, cardstock, and a printer? Check out some of the adorable printable PDF calendars and stationery on Etsy! There are some wonderful designs at littlebrownpen.etsy.com, upup.etsy.com, and marialunate.etsy.com. Just order, wait for the seller to email you the file, print, and done! What a fabulous idea -- and you don't have to wait (or pay!) for shipping!

- Finally, why not work a little DIY beauty magic in the kitchen? It's easy to put together a brown sugar scrub or scented bath salts. Besides, you're going to be running to the grocery store at the last minute anyway, right?

I lucked out in pretty much finishing my shopping early this year (and by early I mean "today after work", so actually I'm not done at all), but I know how it goes. So if you're out there, braving the crowds and wondering what the heck you should get for that last person (or, uh, dog in my case) on your list, I salute you. Good luck to you, my friend!

images from store.apple.com and littlebrownpen.etsy.com

Monday, December 15, 2008

SCIENCE! Says: A new feature!

Here at the Periodic Elements of Style, we've decided to gift you all with an early holiday season present: a new blog feature! It's called, "SCIENCE! Says"; in which we answer your questions and hand out free advice, all based on what we know from...you guessed it...SCIENCE! Because really, if SCIENCE! didn't know what was up, where would we be?

Question: I am a proud, card-carrying carnivore. What with this recent "economic downturn," I'm hearing more and more that our dietary habits are going to have to change. Anthony Bourdain, Time Magazine, and my grandmother all say I should start eating offal, because it's cheap/delicious. What do you think? Are animal organs better than chunks of charred muscle?

SCIENCE! Says: Don't switch to eating organ meats exclusively, cheap though they may be. The reason you see offal fans come out of the woodwork in lean times is the relative low, low price butchers and mass-market meat producers ask for those less-desirable cuts of meat. Today, most Mega-Mart butchers won't even have offal out in their refrigerated display cases. In anthropological terms, as we industrialized, American culture cultivated a high premium for cuts of meat further away from the potentially bacteria- and parasite-laden internal organ system of livestock. The richer you are, the better cuts of meat you can afford, thus your grocery list becomes a symbol of your economic and nutritional health. That has perversely reversed itself in the past few years as the Yuppification of America continues, and self-branded "gourmands" turn to offal for a rush of culinary adventure.

You may not be able to afford to eat t-bone steaks and pork chops every day now, but a good dose of properly cooked liver'n'onions never killed anybody. Just remember that organs like the liver, kidneys, and various glands in animals function the same as in humans--they filter out toxins. In sick animals as in humans, toxins and nasties can accumulate in the organs and lymphatic system. You can avoid over-exposure to toxins by avoiding those organs in general. Some types of offal do contain higher amounts of nutrients like potassium, but check out how much more cholesterol a 4oz serving of beef brains has compared to regular lean ground beef! (751% of your daily value versus 29%, that's seven and a half TIMES your daily allotted amount of cholesterol!)

If you're talking about calves' brains and oxtail, I will point you to the risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, aka "Mad Cow," a prion disease that emerged a decade ago in Europe to the great consternation and near-ruin of the livestock industry. Avoid mystery meats if you can because of this--cheap sausage, ground meats with abnormal coloring, and products like SPAM contain the odds and ends, including ground-up bone, of animals you should really stay away from.

It may save your wallet a couple of pennies, but you could prevent serious health problems by sticking to what you know. Anthony Bourdain may have survived decades of drinking, smoking, and offal, but remember: he gets paid to eat it.

Note: If you would like to have a question answered in SCIENCE! Says, please e-mail us at periodicstyle [AT] gmail [DOT] com. We love a challenge, so bring it on!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Science Fair for December 7th-14th

Things are really speeding up now that we're in the last three weeks of 2008. I cannot BELIEVE how quickly this year has flown by, wasn't it just 2004? 2009 sounds like a made-up year, like when you were little and heard about people who were 38 year old. 2009 sounds so far away that we might not see it, but hey, now we're already in our twenties and it's the end of 2008! The future has arrived, and I like the look of it. We have a collective feeling that 2009 is going to be totally awesome, though. We're going to take ownership of the whole year, kick its ass, and generally show it a good time.

-Nature asks, Which periodic element do you want for Christmas? Looking at our table of elements above, I'd like a nicely decorated home of my own and maybe some food-related items. From the actual table of elements, I'd want some plutonium for kitsch's sake. Radioactive elements FTW! Sorry, Marie Curie.

-If you're like me, you love all those "The First 48," "Mystery Diagnosis," "I Died for Fifteen Seconds and Came Back to Life" kinds of documentary TV shows. I have a literally morbid curiosity for how people die, just so I can file away that method for my own reference. It's very useful sometimes. My boss went to Disneyland for Thanksgiving vacation and related to me her experience on the roller coasters, I was able to pipe in with a cheery, "People die on those!" Weird? Maybe. The link above is to GIDEON's statistical analysis of Very Important Patients, defined as those individuals who are "well recognized by the public at large." I'm sure you can fill out the list for 2008 in your mind already.

-My favorite part of CSI and its ilk is when they use their lasers and soft, squooshy dummies to re-create shoot-outs. Check out how real-life crime scene investigators at the FBI do it. (There must be a t-shirt for sale at the FBI training facility store at Quantico that says, "FBI Special Agents do it across state lines" or something. I'll think of a better joke someday.) Right now, I'm reading Stolen Masterpiece Tracker, a retired FBI Special Agent's memoir of his career working cases of major art theft. Fascinating--the real Thomas Crowne wannabes don't all look like Pierce Brosnan, or Steve McQueen for that matter.

-Everyone loves a bit of Bond in the morning. I have a sneaking suspicion that if one wore a t-shirt emblazoned with, "Everyone loves a Bond girl," you would get hit on more than a pinata at a Little League party. Racialicious has something to satisfy your cerebral need for Bond, all about the political underpinnings of our favorite double-0. Don't ever change from your wonderfully action-packed timeliness, 007 franchise!

-For your regularly scheduled vintage enjoyment, check out this Flickr stream of vintage magazine covers. The old sci-fi pulp mags are THE BEST, "California is DOOMED!". The stream also has vintage Vogue shoots and covers that are absolutely breathtaking.

-If you're in a bit of a DIY mood, as many of us are this holiday season, check out all of the delightful how-to guides on Curbly.com. I especially love the bird mobile. It's a great way to burn right through the pile of scraps sitting around in boxes and bags! I have a pile of interior fabric samples for various craft projects I never finish, now if only I could find that power cord to the sewing machine...

-This week, we've been suffering from Mad Men withdrawal something terrible. Seeing Anne Dudek on reruns of House and SVU makes me nostalgic for those days we experienced the sheer voyeurism of watching January Jones and Anne Dudek smoke and drink in the Draper family kitchen. Still, the fashion frenzy over Man Men continues, we love Sprig's photo array of 10 Ways to Look Like You Just Stepped Off the Set of Mad Men. Step 1: shop vintage?

Have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide: Bath and Beauty


It's always kind of hard to buy beauty products for other people, especially since both colors and fragrances are really personal. And when you get more than two sets of scented bath products from separate people, it's almost like they're trying to give you a hint to go take a bath or something... So no hints, just good stuff!

Plus, you know, you can always take a look at our Beauty category or see what we've got up at Periodic Beauty Reviews for more ideas...

- I know I said you only need three nail polishes, but if you feel the need to truly bestow the gift of polishes, Rescue Beauty is selling a nail polish library. 47 colors. $750. On the plus side, you will never ever need a new nail polish again, right?

- I received a Dermalogica Ultimate Buffing Cloth from Fashion Week, and it's been in my shower ever since I moved. Stuff it in a stocking along with a Philosophy shower gel and you're golden.

- I bought myself the Korres Vanilla Plum Collection Set after my last trip to Sephora University; the plum lip butter is really pretty (even if I have to put my fingers in the pot, sigh!) and I'm still digging the scent.

- Earlier this year, Bliss and Sephora had a competition between three scents to determine which would be the next Bliss scent. I actually went into my Sephora purposefully to vote, and I'm pleased that my choice, Blood Orange and White Pepper, was the winner! You can pick up the Big Orange set at Sephora for some citrus-y goodness in a gift set.

- Karen and I stopped into the Fresh cosmetics boutique on the border of Chinatown this past weekend, and the sweet sales associate showed us their various gift offerings. At the boutique you can put together your own soap trios, while they offer two online: Trio One, with Hesperides, Patchouli, and Linden, and Trio Two, with Freesia, Verbana, and Vanilla. They also had a really nice-smelling set of Christmas soaps in Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh, which it looks like they only carry in the boutiques or at Neiman Marcus.

- Finally, if you really aren't sure what to get, you can't go wrong with a Sephora gift card or a gift certificate for a massage or facial at a local spa. Because honestly, yes, whoever it is you're buying for, they probably need a massage. I know I do!


- Figgy Pudding gift set from Product Body. I love their stuff and I like that they're offering special stuff that you can only get in the gift set.

- As always, Lush has a bunch of specials for the Holiday, and Candy Cane Bubble Bar is my pick to try this year.

- I'm a little biased on this one, because I'd love a bottle of OPI in my stocking this year... in fact, I just bought half of the holiday collection--I'm especially loving all the metallics for gifting.

image from rescuebeauty.com

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide: For the Dudes


I have my dad and my brother, and until recently, I had to buy boyfriend (or we-broke-up-but-you're-still-pretty-much-my-boyfriend-so-you-get-a-present) presents. But not this year! I am actually kind of relieved by it, and have decided I'm going to hold off until 2009 because then I don't have to buy another guy present. (It's kind of like the opposite of the Margaret Cho bit about breaking up: "There's never a good time to break up. You just bought concert tickets. A war broke out. You want your birthday present first." Except for me right now, it's: "No, sorry, I can't date you, I don't want to have to buy you a present.")

Last year also added a complication in that I was supporting the WGA strike and didn't buy any DVDs. Well, since they settled the strike, I feel I can recommend DVDs to you this year now!

- BUT FIRST: books. I've already purchased my brother's gift, the delightful John Hodgman's newest book, More Information Than You Require, the sequel to his hilarious first book, The Areas Of My Expertise (which he will also be receiving). The Areas of My Expertise audiobook is amazing and features the wonderful and adorable Jonathan Coulton, whose music is also a good gift choice. I wrote about them both last December, and I am still a fan. (You can also follow them on Twitter, which I highly recommend -- @hodgman and @jonathancoulton.) ALSO: that is all.

- I was among those who were pretty dang peeved when Fox cancelled Futurama. And then when Fox restarted Family Guy after Family Guy's popularity soared on Cartoon Network, I was one of the people shouting, "AND WHAT ABOUT FUTURAMA YOU GUYS C'MON." So when they announced that Futurama's "back, baby!" at San Diego Comic-Con in 2007, I was (and remain!) thrilled. The deal is for four straight-to-DVD movies that will be cut up into four new episodes each, so sixteen new episodes of Futurama made out of four movies. Three of them are already out: Bender's Big Score, The Beast With A Billion Backs, and the newest, Bender's Game. Hooray, Futurama!

- Now that the strike's over, I have been buying a lot of DVDs. And I tend to be pretty generous with letting people borrow them. Unfortunately, some of the guys in my life have kidnapped some of them. Luckily, two are with my brother, and I know where he lives, but the other... may be gone forever. I know that I can get my copies of Freaks and Geeks and the first season of Flight of the Conchords back at any time from my brother, but he's holding on to them for me right now. Tragically, I am probably never going to get the complete series of Arrested Development back. That one is a heartbreaker, and has been killing me since the break-up. Keeping a girl from her GOB Bluth? That's just cruel. COME ON.

- If I were to buy something for someone this year, I would most likely get him the Amazon exclusive DVD of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. It was a side project for Joss Whedon (hooray!), Neil Patrick Harris (hooray!!) and Nathan Fillion (hooray again!) during the writer's strike, and originally was all online. Now you can have it in a DVD! Also, we are in full support of blogs, even if they are run by mad scientists who have unrequited crushes on the girl at the laundromat. Seriously, this is worth buying and having for yourself, not just as a gift. And! It's on pre-order now for only ten bucks. Yay!

- Finally, I have two words for you: Soap Stache. Yes, it is soap in the shape of a mustache. dennisanderson.etsy.com sells Soap Stache and many other wonderful soaps that everyone can enjoy, including beer soaps (!!), so you can pick your (or his) favorite brew. (Blue Moon, anyone? Or maybe you're more of a Guinness or Sierra Nevada drinker...) I have found that boys do like soaps and skincare and cologne if you buy it for them. So don't be afraid to do so. (Sephora can help with the cologne-finding, too.)

Like Jeanne, I've just got my dad and my brother to gift this year. At my house, we have a very, very low-key Christmas because we do a bang-up job on New Year's in the grand ol' Japanese fashion. (Sukiyaki this year! Yes!!) Every other year, my brother and his wife come out to California to celebrate Christmas with us. This year, it's no big brother, and I already know what Dad's getting, so it's very simple:

-I've composed a Mad Men-themed stack of goodies, including the Mad Men Season 1 DVD set, Meditations in an Emergency, and to put a personal spin on it, a great bottle of sake. Apparently my grandfather drank rye a la Don Draper, so that's another option for your liquor-connoisseur father figure. Is that weird, to give your tee-totaling father alcohol for Christmas?

-I actually take after my father in several ways besides our shared lantern-shaped jaw. Both of us will be chained to our office desks when the rest of our respective companies have forced shut-down over the holidays. Fortunately, I have the solution to office doldrums, and it's these totally sweet Origami Post-It Notes. What better time to perfect your nimble paper-folding skillz than when it's quiet?

-Gifts that hark back to a family tradition are great for dads, who want to always think of their daughters as their little girls. My dad and I always loved listening to Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion on weekends together. Probably because we are mysteriously drawn to stories of Americana, it seems foreign and familiar at the same time. NPR.org has a specially-recorded session of songs by Garrison Keillor and his Guy's All-Star Shoe Band: When I Get Home.

-For the well-seasoned traveller in your life, Bedol has an amazing eco-friendly, water-powered clock. Isn't that great? Personally, I hate scrounging around for batteries for a travel clock when I'm traveling, so ta-da! I imagine a guy being endlessly captivated by this kind of wee device.

-In a perfect world, we'd have these hot, new technological marvels on the market for our male comrades to ogle and enjoy. The pod-dining-set looks like interior design FROM THE FUTUUUURE. I love it!

Have a happy holiday season, everyone, we'll be back soon we another gift guide for you!

image from periodicstyle.blogspot.com

Science Fair for November 30th - December 7th

Happy December, everyone! It's the last month of 2008 and I am pretty much ready for '08 to go!

- We do have more gift guides in the works (really! we do! we promise!), but just in case you're still looking for more (like for babies or pets, who we're not covering this year), Jamie has you covered with the gift guides at Oh How Lovely Shops. In addition, she's having a big holiday giveaway!

- In other giveaway news, Sephora is granting a Beauty Insider's holiday wish -- one item, valued up to $300! (I asked Sephora-Santa for a no!no!, but would totally be happy with a Clarisonic face brush, too.)

- The San Francisco Ballet's new (2004) production of the Nutcracker will be shown nationwide on PBS's Great Performances at 8 pm on December 17th. It takes place in San Francisco in 1915, the year of the World Fair. If you can't watch it on the 17th, it's also available on DVD. This is the production that got me back into ballet classes for my senior year of college.

- Karen and I went out for drinks on Friday night and spotted a beautiful crystal tie necklace on one of the waitresses, which instantly made me think of Jill's faux tie post on Trend de la Creme. I then talked about TDLC and caterpillars and Karen said, "I have no idea what you're talking about". So, Karen, this is what I meant.

- I am not a big hair person (I mean this in the "hair is not really my thing" sense, not "I don't have big hair", but I don't really have big hair, either), but if you haven't seen Hair Thursday, where women can submit their hairstyles and get suggestions on What to Do With It, it's pretty neat! I'm sticking with my style for now (although the platinum is on its way out), but if you're thinking of doing something new in the new year, you should check it out!

- UPDATED: Every year the Macy's in Union Square hosts puppies and kitties from the San Francisco SPCA in their storefront windows, and this year there's a live webcam! They are adorable and they all need homes. Support your local shelters and rescues!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sleep and the City

Everyone wants to know how things are going in the new apartment, right? Yes! You do!

So it's a great location -- right off a main street, so when I walk to the train in the morning or walk home from the train at night, there are always cars and streetcars and people around. We're tucked away in the back, so we're not on that main street, but we are right by an onramp onto a busy bridge that, um, is under construction. And will be until January.

It also gets a lot of sun in the mornings, which makes it totally adorable on the weekend because that's the only time I spend mornings in my apartment. (This was also an excuse I gave to my grandma over Thanksgiving weekend -- "Oh no, no, you should see my apartment tomorrow morning because it's so much prettier in the morning." Then I hustled home and cleaned.) My bedroom window faces east, so I definitely get some morning sun, especially now that we've had Daylight Savings going and I don't have to get up and walk in the sunrise hours.

And then there's the part about apartment living that we all love: the neighbors. My first apartment in college, we had an upstairs neighbor who probably wore concrete shoes around the house. Just 'cause. And in my second apartment, I shared a wall with a guy whose alarm, without fail, went off ten to fifteen minutes before mine. And by alarm, I mean iTunes. And his morning routine was to crank that baby up and sing along with it, off-key, in the shower. Again, ten minutes before my alarm.

This time, it's even better: I share a wall with a two-year-old who can't sleep through the night yet. Awe.some. for. real.

So obviously I am thinking I might need some help. Some ridiculously cute help.

- This rainbow seersucker sleep mask from miandai.etsy.com is so darling and stripey, I love it.
- There are a ton of awesome sleep masks at BibBon.etsy.com, including superhero ones and pirate ones. Fun! (Also, how much do I need A BAT TOWEL? SO MUCH YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW.)
- Of course, there's always the classic Holly Golightly sleep mask from Fred Flare for all you very stylish girls out there.
- Speaking of Miss Holly, I was trying to google fancy ear plugs and I thought, "hmm, haven't I seen them with tassels?" And sure enough, it was Holly again who wore blue tasseled earplugs along with her mask. There are some other lovely choices available at the JenGen ear plugs shop, including jeweled (pretty!!) and butterflies. (These might also be a good present for all of your show-going or DJ friends...)

Me, I've been trying to get to bed earlier and when I hear that toddler starting to wail on the other side of the wall, I've been sticking my head under my pillow. They did warn me, though, and asked me if I had ear plugs. I said yes, but I didn't. Maybe I should fix that...

Got any hilarious apartment-living stories? I'd love to hear 'em. (Tonight's adventure? The washing machine oversudsing. AWESOME.)

images from fredflare.com and earplugs.ecrater.com

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