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Ithaca’s Night at the Museum

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While cutting out a dinosaur mask from yellow construction paper, Madi Izza resembled a jumping bean, as she was filled with excitement waiting for her evening at the Museum of Earth to begin.

“I’m most excited to see what kinds of activities we’re going to do,” says Izza, who was one of the participants of the Museum of Earth’s Night at the Museum. 

As the children and their parents arrived, volunteers and staff from the museum had arts and crafts tables set up for the children. As they cut out dinosaur masks and made dinosaur origami, the parents set up their air mattresses and make-shift beds underneath a giant whale skeleton. 

“We’ve been doing the overnight [stay] yearly in the spring since ’06 or ’07. This year’s [theme is] dinosaurs and they get to spend the night, have breakfast, and then spend the rest of the day at the museum,” says the Museum’s Operations & Programs Coordinator Samantha Lesser. 

With the exception for Izza, all the children in attendance were new to the overnight stay program, though most had previously visited the museum.

“The Museum of the Earth is a paleontology museum. Paleontology and Geology. So we don’t just focus on dinosaurs, we focus on all of Earth’s history,” says Lesser. This year’s theme was dinosaurs, which inspired fun features like dinosaur snacks- swamp water, dinosaur bones (pretzels), coprolites (chocolate chip cookies), and dinosaur eggs (grapes).

Learning the Cretaceous Creatures

After all the beds were made and arts & crafts were completed, the parents and their children learned about some different kinds of dinosaurs and other cretaceous creatures with models and fossils. 

Using reproduced features, some of the children volunteered to act out how the animals would have stood and walked with tails, spikes, and horns.

“It’s a way to learn about dinosaurs in a different setting and a little more informal than visiting with a class. It’s a smaller group, it makes it a little more hands on and fun. We can do things that we wouldn’t get to do with a class.”

The children were able to examine a fossil over 100 years old that the museum and it’s Paleontological Research Institute is currently uncovering from its packaging. The fossil is on loan from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

Footprint Fun

One of the highlights of the evening was the Dinosaur Crime Scene constructed by the staff and volunteers. The plot: a dinosaur was murdered and based on the footprints around the scene; a list of suspects had been gathered. It was up to the children to solve the crime.

Using clues to see which dinosaur would’ve been there before another and which dinosaur would’ve had the ability to ‘murder’ the victim based on their size and diet, they had solved who was the murderer in no time. 

To end the night, everyone participated in some Dinosaur Yoga, which featured fun yoga poses to help the kids relax before heading to bed. In the morning, the children and parents were treated to breakfast and a day of exploring the museum at their leisure. 

Transitioning Into Springtime

There’s nothing that will throw your morning routine off more than the arrival of springtime. No matter what your Weather App tells you, you can never nail the right outfit for the ever-changing temperature and skies of spring.

“Is it too early to wear white?” “Am I going to be cold in just this?” These are among the popular questions nearly everyone asks themselves as they pick out their daily outfits in spring. How do you ever solve these questions that come year after year?

Though we may never know the answer to these, here are some tips for picking an outfit fit to help make the transition slightly smoother…

  1. One word: L.A.Y.E.R.. Wear three layers if you must, especially if you’re still stuck in upstate New York like yours truly. Nothing beats a chilly spring morning more than a warm afternoon sun.
  2. Gradually mix in white accessories and clothing items into your wardrobe. No one follows the “You can’t wear white until Memorial Day” anymore, but no one walks out wearing a complete blanche ensemble.
  3. Denim. I often think springtime is made for pulling out all the denim you have that is too cold for winter but too hot for summer. Not to worry- denim has long since washed away their biker-esque stereotype in trade for a more casual, chic look. This season, boyfriend jeans are all the rage.
  4. When in doubt- add pastel. Adding a pop of light pink or baby blue won’t make you look like the Easter egg from childhood’s past.
  5. If you really want to go for a chic look, do yourself a favor and purchase a staple: the Trench coat. Nothing screams “I know what I’m doing” more than a trench coat, in every way possible.

For more springtime inspiration, check out this slideshow on Elle!

Second Hand Clothing Giving Second Chances

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As a single mother of two and recently moved to Ithaca, Marion found it difficult to support her children by working a few part-time jobs. Knowing she wanted and needed a change, Marion went to the Ithaca Women Opportunity Center to help find a job and improve her computer skills.

 “She really wanted to turn things around and work on her own goals,” said Assistant Director of WOC Celia Miller.  After enrolling in classes at the Tompkins Cortland Community College and with the help of WOC’s training programs, Marion now has purchased her own car and has a full-time job with benefits at Cornell University.

“It’s really nice to stay in touch with clients who’ve made strides in their goals,” Miller commented, after telling of Marion’s success and how she is now looking to buy a house.

Women Helping Women

Marion is like many of the women that come through WOC’s doors. After 30 years in business, this non-profit organization helps women get back on their feet. 

The center offers a variety of resources including computer classes, resume and interview assistance, aid in job searching, and English-language betterment. They also provide workshops focused on topics like goal setting, financial literacy, healthy living, and legal relationship information. 

With a kitchen stocked full of baked-goods donated by a local bakery and condiments from local businesses as well as community members, the center provides their clients with a hearty breakfast before beginning their workday. 

Though the center receives grants from New York State as well as donations from various local businesses, they own the Mary Durham Boutique located just around the corner from the center.

A Legacy to Fulfill

After Mary Durham, a community activist that helped those facing economic hardship reach their personal goals, passed away, her children donated the boutique to the WOC. 

As a tribute to her name and the work done within the community, the boutique began as a part-time facility that allowed women have a place to shop for business-attire clothing at an affordable price.

Seven years later, the boutique is a full-time operation in which all proceeds are directed towards helping fund programs for women to find jobs.

“We do advertise that we need business clothing so we do get a lot of suits and dressier clothing. But a lot of the clothing goes back to the Women’s Center. We have The Dressing Room there, where clients can get clothes for interviews or work experience,” said the Boutique Manager Thena Gitlin.

The store has a wide variety of clothing and hidden treasures, like most thrift stores. There’s a Christian Dior sweater hanging in the front room for a mere $30 and vintage hats and gloves. 

“We have the retail training program, which offers basic retail skills like pricing, tagging, sorting, working on the register- things like that,” Gitlin mentioned. The program allows women working with the WOC to gain retail experience and add that skill to their resume. 

The WOC is celebrating 30 years of success and continues to help women both in and outside of the Tompkins county reach their career goals everyday. 

Lively Back At It

Let’s all take a minute to notice everyone’s celebrity girl crush- the one and only Blake Lively.

After a year hiatus from her major role in the CW TV series’ Gossip Girl finished last December, Lively took a break from her acting career to spend some time with her new hubby. After graduating high school, Lively was on set for Gossip Girl for 10 months of the year working 15 hour days for the past six years. A celebrity wanting a private personal life? Just another reason why we all love Lively.

Fashion Icon

If you’re a girl around the ages of 18-24, you most likely lived vicariously through many of Lively’s roles, most notably Serena on Gossip Girl and Bridget in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Lively captured the hearts of many fashion lovers off the big-screen as she became a fashion icon through her Gossip Girl role and even became BFF’s with the Queen of the Fashion world, Anna Wintour.

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Via Style Bistro

Here are the two sitting front row at the Chanel Fall/Winter fashion show (a.k.a. one of the biggest events on the year in the fashion world) back in 2010. Though Wintour is known to be quite cold and standoffish to most, its not surprising that Lively warmed her heart.

But Lively didn’t just stop there. She befriended the King of fashion as well, head designer for the Chanel brand Karl Lagerfield, who is rumored to be just as hard to warm up to as Wintour. If there is something Lively can’t do in fashion, the world has yet to see it.

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Via Elle

Philanthropist

Fast-forward to present day, Lively has risen to the top of the celebrity pole. And though I am not one for following celebrity news, I always take a minute to read about Hollywood’s sweetheart.

After marrying actor Ryan Reynolds, the two shared a nice break from their stardom to take time as newlyweds. Now, it looks like Lively is back stronger than ever.

Lively landed the major gig as the face of Gucci’s Premiere fragrance. The brand launched the Chime for Change charity and Lively has been a pivotal part in helping ensure its immense success thus far. Starting in April, $5 dollars of any purchase of Gucci perfumes will be donated to the charity of the purchaser’s choice.

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Last year, the Chime for Change hosted a major concert The Sound of Change Live that Lively was a part of. The megaconcert, which featured performers like Beyonce, Florence Welch, and Ellie Goulding, raised $3.9 million dollars for organizations that help women globally. Talk about Girl Power

Back At It

Getting back into her career as an actress, Lively is starting as the lead role in her upcoming film Age of Adaline, set in the 1920’s and focuses of Lively’s character’s immortality and her future prospects. The role will be a time period piece not seen out of her acting career thus far and is a major change in wardrobe compared to her role as Serena van der Woodsen.

As of March 25, Lively’s face will be all over newsstands as she graces the cover of one of the biggest fashion magazine’s, and my personal favorite, ELLE.

Philanthropist, Actress, Hollywood’s Sweetheart, Wintour & Lagerfield’s BFF’s, Ryan Reynolds Wife, ELLE cover. Need I say more?

Springing to Action: How to Turn Around Your Springtime Routine

Springtime has officially arrived, and with that the need for many to shed all the bad habits most everyone picks up during the cold winter months.

While the time for hiding beneath baggy sweaters has passed, don’t be disappointed when that favorite sundress or pair of capris seems too snug to wrestle back into. This is normal after the winter months and provides great motivation to change for a healthier lifestyle.

Instead of rushing back into the gym and doing the same springtime routine you’ve always done come this time of year, health and fitness expert Michelle Bridges says its better to make specific plan and some serious changes before jumping in head-first.

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Bridges, who’s 12-Week Body Transformation, tackles weight loss as a lifestyle change and preparing your mind, body, eating habits, and even those in your life for a major change.

Though there are countless weight-loss and nutrition programs out there to help people achieve their goals, the health and fitness company Beach Body, which sells popular home workout programs like P90X and Insanity, sees great results with similar principles.

“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, to me personally, is exercising regularly, maintaining a somewhat healthy diet, and making sure your body gets the nutrients it needs daily,” says Jennifer O’Connor, who is a Beach Body coach that provides support for those who commit to the program.

Here are some of the biggest tips found in many nutrition & weight-loss programs:

  • Make a List: what specifically do you want to change?
  • Take Notes: begin with your measurements and weight, follow through with these each week to keep track of your progress
  • Buddy System: whether it be at the gym or a partner working with you, everyone needs support!
  • Change It Up: dispose of the back-up Ben & Jerry’s sitting in the freezer, its time for a food make over!
  • Positivity: staying in the right mind-set is pivotal
  • Motivation: whether it be taking daily gym selfies or buying a new workout wardrobe, do something for yourself to keep you excited about your change!

The Cleanse Trend

A big trend within the health community has been doing cleanses and detoxes to flush out unwanted chemicals and substances in your body to make way for a fully healthy body and life.

One detox that not only promotes weight loss by increasing your metabolism but also has a laundry list of other benefits including improved skin health, better quality of sleep, and regulated blood sugar levels, is the BooTea TeaTox. Combining a daytime and bedtime detox tea, the company also offers a eating plan to follow for maximum results.

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Another popular trend out there is juicing, which seems to have spread like wildfire. With benefits like weight-loss, strengthened immunity, and increased energy levels, juicing allows one to receive the proper amount of vitamins and nutrients needed in the size of a glass.

Stay On Track

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Many people focus too closely on the number on the scale during a health and fitness change. Becoming discouraged because of this is common, but often the number on the scale isn’t correct in measuring your success. Muscle weighs more than fat, so keep working, stay positive, and you will succeed.

The bottom line with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and losing weight is that there is no secret. By changing the way you think, eat, and exercise, achieving your healthy overhaul has much better chances at success than returning to the go-to spring routine.

The Makings of the Perfect Award Show Ensemble

As the Oscars approach in the evening hours tomorrow, millions will be following all the stars as the grace the red carpet on the hunt for the best dressed. I must admit I am not much of an award show person, though I do enjoy the highlights of red carpet fashion.

One thing I always find slightly confusing is when pop news stations like E!News and TMZ award “Best Dressed” awards out…to a multitude of stars. How did they decide before seeing everyone, and what exactly makes a best dressed ensemble?

After doing some research, I’ve found the most successful dresses on the red carpet generally go for a classic, simple look with a modern spin. Let’s take a look.

Less is More

Take, for example, Lupita Nyong’o. The breakout star, thanks to her movie 12 Years a Slave, has been a red carpet stunner while receiving multiple nods and even garnering awards in her first red carpet season.

ImageImage via NY Daily News

Her most successful dress thus far (though I, and likely everyone else in the fashion world, anxiously wait to see what she’ll wear tomorrow) was the red dress-and-cape she wore to the Golden Globes. With her hair slicked, jewelry simplified to studs and two rings, she was the image of ultra chic.

Not-so Simple

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Via HuffPost Style Canada

That’s not to say that “classic with a modern spin” can’t go wrong. Take Paula Patton’s last Golden Globes dress. Though she kept her jewelry and hair simple, this is classic couture-gone-wrong. Some gowns, like this Stephane Rolland one, are sometimes better off left on the runway.

Make or Break it

Even if you nail the dress, the accessories and hairstyle can make or break it. A go-to rule: if the dress already has a lot going on, don’t add too much more. However, if the dress is simple and chic, one’s freedom with hairstyles, jewelry, nails, etc. are a less limited. Feel free to rock the maiden-braid, or be bold with a bright spring hue lacquer on the nails.

Redemption

One bad award show ensemble won’t ruin a celebrity’s fashion street credit. So let’s all hope Jennifer Lawrence has some inspiration from last year’s Oscar ensemble and avoid a part-deux to the Lawrencing trend (I’ll take a trip on the way up to your acceptance speech over the GG dress any day, J-Law).

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Via Mirror

Happy Oscars everyone!

DIY Fashion: Everything From Iron-On’s to Construction Paper

Everyday, I see more and more DIY (“Do It Yourself”) projects popping up on my Instagram and Twitter feeds. Though I’ve been crafty in many ways in my past, they have never included a needle and thread. (I know, I am a disgrace as a fashion lover…)

DIY fashion has always amazed me. Whether its sewing a pink coat modeled after one of the hottest trends of the season or just simply gluing some beads onto your beanie laying around, the fact that you can recreate some of the hottest designs in fashion just makes me & all the creative bones in my body excited.

One of my favorite DIY blogs I follow regularly is P.S. I made this… which includes both DIY fashion (clothing, accessories, jewelry, shoes) and DIY everyday (food, tech, lifestyle, beauty). A recent post really caught my eye: inspired by Oscar de la Renta’s Fall 2012 collection, the blogger took a pair of similar colored pants and printed off iron-on pictures of earrings. After simply cutting the designs out and ironing them on in a similar fashion to the pants they were inspired by, she made a pair of pants scattered with different bijoux and had a near-replica of a high-fashion design. Image

Via P.S. I Made This…

However, don’t be fooled by the sewing and nit-picky instructions on some DIY blogs: you don’t need sewing skills, or even fabric for that matter, to make an amazing DIY….you don’t even need to be above the age of four.

Here enters Mayhem, the nickname of the four-year- old fashion lover who pairs up with her mom, Angie, to create DIY dresses straight off the red carpet and big screen. And get this…..almost all of them are made out of construction paper, tape, and other around the house items. Not only does “Mayhem” help her mom create these dresses, she strikes poses worthy for any modeling agency out there. Check out some of my favorite designs by the duo…

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C’mon, can you get any cuter as a four-year old? Via Instagram

If Mayhem & Angie are making some of the most Instagram-worthy DIY I’ve seen out of construction paper, there’s no excuse to not give DIY whirl one day. Perhaps I will on my upcoming Spring Break… 😉

Sustainable Fashion

Often a contradiction to traditional thought, sustainability and fashion are hardly new friends. At least, that’s the case in Ithaca, New York, where it isn’t rare to walk by clothing storefronts advertising sustainable fashion.

Sustainability is no new trend within the confines of Ithaca. Whether you’re in a bakery, tattoo parlor, pizza place, or even a tax firm- being sustainable and environmentally friendly is just a way of life in the small, rural city.

Blooming Eco-Fashion

Among a sea of small “mom & pop” shops, Bloom, clothing and play area store,  has its walls lined and racks filled with women and children sustainable clothing. Though only opening their doors just over a year ago, Bloom is doing well. The owner’s knew a shop like Bloom “[would] be welcome in a town like Ithaca.”

“We have a lot of organic clothes that we can just feel really good about putting our kids in and selling to other people’s children,” says Bloom co-owner McKenzie Jones-Rounds. Along with her business partner, the two wanted make sure their store had sustainable ethics at their core.

Though don’t be fooled by the “hippie-clothes” aesthetic that many think sustainable clothing must have. “A lot of the things that we have I think are more consistently in fashion. They’re simpler things, so they can be paired with something else.”

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But the issue of sustainable clothing isn’t nearly as simple as “being green” for the environment. “It’s a multi-layered issue,” Jones-Rounds commented. A major issue for Bloom owners’ is knowing that their clothing “is coming from people who were treated fairly- being paid a living wage or at least a minimum wage, working in conditions that are really safe.”

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Via Sustainability in Fashion and Textiles: Values, Design, Production, and Consumption

As the above graph demonstrates, the labor conditions Bloom owners’, and many other sustainably-conscious within the fashion world, feel strongly about is just one of many issues sustainability faces within the fashion industry.

Sustainability Collides with Haute-Couture

There is a stigma in many parts of the fashion world that believes sustainability isn’t meant for high-end level fashion. One of the designer’s knocking this stereotype down is Rachael Reichert, a fashion designer who specializes in women’s haute-couture, and just so happens to be from Ithaca.

“Growing up in Ithaca definitely embedded a conscientiousness of environmental issues in me,” says Reichert. But her decision to make sustainably-friendly designs didn’t solely root from her Ithaca heritage.

“While I was at Central Saint Martins [where she studied fashion design], I read an Environmental Justice Foundation report about the effects of the cotton industry…[that] detailed so many aspects of the industry of growing and harvesting  cotton that are harmful both physically and socially across numerous countries.”

After that, Reichert made a decision to never buy cotton again unless it was organic, and now scrutinizes all her fabrics and trimming purchases.

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Sustainable designs of Reichert, via her website’s Collections Page 

Though the Ithaca community was very supportive of Reichert’s efforts, she decided to expand her business opportunities and head to NYC this past January. With her design’s selling up to $600 on her Etsy page, Reichert is surely making headway in the cut-throat business of fashion.

Does this mean that perhaps sustainable fashion is making progress past the small, environmentally friendly areas like Ithaca and in the heart of the fashion industry itself? Only time will tell…

Winter Hues of All Colors: NY Fashion Week ’14

What a blur the past seven days have been, though unfortunately it was not due to the running from runway to runway around NYC. One thing Fashion Week did have in common with Ithaca, NY- unlike just about everywhere else in the Tri-State area, the polar vortex & freak snow blizzarddidn’t stand in our way of getting what we needed to done. While in the comfort of my dorm room, keeping up to date on the all the runways and showcases left me with one conclusion- Fashion Week, you never disappoint.

Trends

  • Fur : Gracing all kinds of runways this season, whether it was the newbies like NoNoo or veteran designers of Badgley Mischka, fur was back in a big way. It’s a good thing Blackfish wasn’t about any furry animals…
  • Asymmetrical Hemlines : Falling to the way side…quite literally. Hemlines far from the boring straight across, and forget about the high-low trend, slanted and mismatched hem’s are the next big thing. Nanette Lipore  and Prabal Gurung were among some of the designers to already master this new trend beautifully.
  • Bright Colors : That’s right people. No longer do we have to hide away in various shades of black, brown, and white during all the chilly winter months. Bring the bright hues of pink, red, and royal blues to your winter wardrobe, like this sweater-cape seen on Thakoon‘s runway, or this kelly green and electric blue women’s suit by Kate Spade.
  • TBT : Let’s take it back to the 60’s, to both parts of the decade (pre and full-on hippie). For the Twiggy-esque style, designers like Erin FeatherstonKate Spade, and Karen Walker had early-60’s vibes. For a little late-60’s, early 70’s vibes, check out Anna Sui‘s runway and Alice + Olivia‘s showcase.

Spotlight

Though it’d be impossible to pick just one favorite show from this year, I will spotlight designer Christian Siriano who’s Fall Ready-to-Wear line was impeccable this year. Sticking to the classic winter shades of green, blue, black, purple and white, his classic lines and clenched high-waisted gowns all gave the air of pure, feminine elegance. Here were some of my favorite looks~

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All images via The Fashion Spot