Archive for October 2013 | Monthly archive page

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Written By EcoWomen Fashion Blogger Rachel Mlinarchik

While it’s tempting to buy a costume off the rack, it really just creates more stuff. Add to that the fact that most Halloween costumes are made under questionable working conditions in far-flung locales, and the creative, DIY approach seems the best way to go. To get you inspired and ready to create a costume from your closet, I’ve put together three easy DIY Halloween costumes ideas from my own wardrobe.

1. Princess Leia

This first look is a crowd pleaser for sure. I mean, who doesn’t love Star Wars? To put together your own DIY Princess Leia look, you really don’t need very many pieces.

Almost everyone has a white turtleneck shirt or sweater, white jeans, and boots in their closet. Borrow a toy gun to carry around (a nice touch, but not essential), pin up your hair, and boom: Princess Leia.
See more of my Princess Leia costume and the photos I used as inspiration here.

 

2. Fortune Teller

A DIY fortune teller costume is even easier than Princess Leia and requires a very simple three-step process:

1. Get out every scarf and scarf-like item of clothing you own (focus on hippie prints).
2. Get out all of your jewelry, especially rings.
3. Put it ALL on.

For a little extra oomph, add heavily kohl-lined eyes and deep red lipstick, as I’ve done here, and start telling people that you see a long life and a great love in their futures.

The 90s are the hotness right now, so why not channel them with an iconic Courtney Love costume? All you need is a slip dress with something racy underneath, ripped up tights, and some seriously messed up make-up.

3. Courtney Love

If you check out my full look, you’ll see that I did this one as a couples costume with my husband dressed up as Kurt Cobain, but Courtney can easily stand alone.

I hope these three DIY looks get you thinking about creative ways to use your own closet this Halloween. If you like them, be a hero and share them with a friend — you might single-handedly ensure that one less cheap polyester costume ends up in a landfill this year.

Guest blogger Rachel Mlinarchik curates sustainable style that is kind to the earth and the people on it at www.myfairvanity.com

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How To Pack Your Vegan Lunch

Written By DC EcoWoman Katharine Eaton

When the air gets cooler and the leaves turn color, we tend to crave heartier meals. Cue the soups and stews! But these can be precarious on your commute and a hot lunch might give you an afternoon slump.

The recipes below are easy to pack, store well in the fridge, and do not need to be reheated. In fact, they’re best served at room temperature. They are also healthy, flavorful, protein-rich and gluten-free.

All portions serve one but you can easily multiply the ingredients for more.

Butternut Squash Hummus

Autumn is gourd season! This recipe calls for butternut, but you can use any other kind of winter squash or pumpkin instead. Note that this single serving- sized portion will not use the whole butternut squash.

1 small butternut squash
½ cup chickpeas, cooked or canned
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup finely chopped mint
Bread or crackers, for serving

Peel the butternut squash, slice it in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut the flesh into 1-inch cubes until you have 1 cup of cubes. Save the remaining butternut squash for another recipe – or for more hummus.

Steam the butternut squash cubes until they’re tender. Peel and crush the garlic.

In a food processor or blender, blend the steamed butternut cubes, chickpeas, garlic and olive oil into a smooth consistency.

Season with salt and pepper and fold in the fresh herbs.

At lunchtime, give the hummus a good stir and eat it on your choice of bread or crackers.

Raw Beet Slaw

No roasting or boiling, just the season’s sweetest root vegetable in its purest form. This recipe also makes a great Thanksgiving side dish.

1 medium-sized beet (about 1 cup shredded)
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp stoneground mustard
1 tsp raspberry jam (or any berry jam you have on hand)
Salt and pepper
¼ cup hazelnuts
1 cup mixed salad greens

Peel the beet and shred it with a box grater or a food processor with a grating blade, using the large hole grater. Put the shredded beets in a bowl and fold in the chopped parsley.

Mix the oil, vinegar, mustard and jam into a paste and thoroughly stir it into the beets. The juice from the beets will thin out the dressing; so don’t be tempted to make more. Season the slaw with salt and pepper.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat and dry-roast the hazelnuts, stirring frequently, until they’re fragrant and their skins start to blacken. Remove the nuts from the pan and let them cool. Place the cooled hazelnuts on a clean kitchen towel, roll it up and rub off the skins through the fabric. Pick out the clean hazelnuts and discard the skins. Roughly chop the nuts.

To pack your lunch, pack the hazelnuts, salad greens, and the beet slaw separately. Combine all components right before you eat.

Kale, Potato and White Bean Salad

Ah, le kahl… The summer pests that feast on leaves are gone and kale flourishes once again. Potatoes and white beans add creaminess and celery adds crunch.

2 small red-skinned potatoes (about 1 cup cubed)
2 large kale leaves (about 2 packed cups chopped)
2 tsps olive oil 2 tsps apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 tsps stoneground mustard
¼ cup white beans, cooked or canned 1 stalk celery
1 tbsp capers or chopped pickles, optional
Salt and pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes, add them to the water and cook them for about 10 minutes, until they’re tender but still firm. Drain the potatoes (do not run them under cold water or put them in an ice bath).

Remove the kale stems and cut or rip the leaves into 1-inch pieces. Put the kale in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of the vinegar and 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Using your hands, knead the kale for at least 1 minute. The vinegar will break down the green and you’ll be left with about 1 cup of kale.

Whisk the remaining olive oil and vinegar with the mustard. Chop the celery stalk into small dice.

Carefully toss all the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. The still-warm potatoes will absorb some of the dressing.

Let the salad cool before storing it in the fridge for next day’s lunch.

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Getting the Most of Autumn: Where to “Hike Locally”

By DC EcoBlogger Dawn Bickett

The crisp air and changing leaves of autumn – along with a new reason to celebrate: the end of the shutdown – make it the perfect season to be outdoors and hiking. But finding, and getting to, a nearby trail can feel like a serious challenge, especially when you live in a city.

Luckily, there are many trails scattered in and around the District, several less than 2 miles from the National Mall! Whether you are looking for a strenuous hike or a quick stroll out of earshot of traffic, you don’t need to drive hours to get out of town – you can explore within the District for some time in nature.

Wondering where to start? Check out these great local trails in and near Washington, D.C.


Rock Creek Park 

Certainly one of the most popular green spaces in D.C., Rock Creek Park boasts miles of secluded trails that meander along hills and waterways. Trails here vary from rocky climbs to sandy creek-side walks. For some specific routes, check out these three great short hikes suggested by Active Life DC. Rock Creek Park is easily accessible by foot, car, bus, or by taking the metro to the Adams Morgan/Zoo Station.

Theodore Roosevelt Island
It is no accident that the memorial to President Theodore Roosevelt – the creator of 5 national parks and 150 national forests– is surrounded by hiking trails. Theodore Roosevelt Island is located in the middle of the Potomac River, just east of Rosslyn. And while the island is small, it has several miles of trails uninterrupted by development. The island’s parking lot is easily accessible by car, bike, or foot, and is near the Rosslyn Metro Station. Bird watchers take note: the island known for its large population of waterfowl.

Potomac Heritage Trail (PHT) 

The Potomac Heritage Trail is composed of a network of trails along the Potomac River, and the segment close to D.C. is a definitely worth a visit. Starting at the north corner of the Theodore Roosevelt Island parking lot, this trail runs up the Virginia side of the Potomac River for about 10 miles. The quiet and challenging trail is extremely rewarding – offering a wilder picture of the Potomac River than its cousin on the opposite bank, the paved C&O Canal. Be aware, the trail does have difficult footing in places and occasionally requires scrambling – so be prepared to get a bit dirty and wear shoes with traction!

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
If rocky trails and secluded woods aren’t your style, but you still love being outdoors, then the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are worth a visit. Stretching along the Anacostia River, the gardens offer several miles of trails through cultivated water plants and the only remaining tidal marsh in the District. The gardens are peaceful, visually stunning, and within walking distance from the Deanwood Metro Station.

Great Falls Park 

At 18 miles from the National Mall, Great Falls Park is only accessible by car (or bicycle, for the motivated cyclist), but this list would not be complete without it. This park is a favorite for rock climbers and kayakers. And with over a dozen trails to choose from, it’s perfect for hikers as well. Different trails offer scenic routes to view the falls – an impressive cascade of the Potomac River. Whichever path you take in the park, the incredible view of the falls is worth the trip.

These are just a few of the amazing trails tucked away right here in our own backyard, so challenge yourself to ‘hike local’ this season.  As soon as the shutdown concludes, pick a new trail, and head to some of DC’s great green places.

Didn’t see your favorite DC hiking trail included here? Please comment with your recommendation to share the knowledge!

Great Falls

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As a woman living in the DC area, chances are pretty good that you’re currently on an unexpected paid staycation, courtesy of the government shutdown. But now, almost a week later, you might be running out of ideas of what you can do with all this newfound free time while still remaining friendly to the environment.

There are many ways to spend your furlough days more environmentally-friendly than sitting and watching TV in your air-conditioned home. You can use to take this time to try something new, to rebuild, refresh, and explore – here’s how.

Explore The Area

Even though all your favorite museums and national parks are closed, there are no limits to the places you can explore in and around the district. There is a lot of natural beauty interspersed throughout the city, and as far as I know, the government isn’t allowed to shut down the trees.

As for art, there are many privately-owned art galleries, still open for business, like the Phillips Gallery and the Corcoran. The Eastern Market is still open, the home of many artists selling their work.

Having some extra time means you can go further away, as well. Mount Vernon is just a 10 mile bike ride away once you cross the Potomac. Alexandria is an adorable destination; the riverside parks are ideal for lounging on the beach, and Old Town is full of niche shops and restaurants, and its Torpedo Factory Art Center is a unique – and wonderful – experience.

Create Your Food

Choose real potatoes over couch potatoes! A government shutdown is a great excuse to plant some winter root vegetables, or prep your garden for spring.

But I know what some of you are thinking. Who has the space for a garden in DC? I barely have room for my fake cactus in the corner of the living room! Have no fear.  You can still take the time to create something edible that doesn’t necessitate the use of mulch. Something simpler, and garden-free: Infusion. Infuse olive oil, infuse vinegar, infuse liquor, infuse everything! You can transform a cheap alcohol into a tasty, easy-to-drink concoction, like vanilla or basil-flavored vodka. An herb-and-fruit infused vinegar would make a classy addition to a salad, especially alongside a rosemary-infused olive oil.

Grow Your Network

This is the perfect opportunity to work on improving your professional life. Meet up with an old contact for coffee to catch up and ask for advice. Take the time to think about your goals and career path, and talk about those with your colleagues as well.

Update your resume. Go to a DC EcoWomen happy hour you might have been too busy for otherwise. Know that you are not alone – surely there are meetups for your fellow temporarily-unemployed.

Rebuild Your Home

Is your bland wooden table falling apart, or are you sick of your tired-looking chair? This may be the perfect opportunity to revamp some of your old furniture.  Pull out that toolkit, teach yourself how to repair that broken clock or DVD player – you can learn just about anything on Youtube. Learn how to upcycle your used goods into something new, like old records into a chip bowl, or a wine cork message board (because everyone needs another reason to drink wine!)

Cheap, throwaway goods not meant to last very long have become the norm in our society – it’s quick and easy to throw something away and not think about the consequences, like the ever-growing Great Pacific garbage patch. But now that you have extra time, take the extra hour or two to learn how to fix or upcycle your goods instead. Resist consumerism by repairing, not tossing.

Discover Your Talents

Do you spend endless hours gazing at crafts on Pinterest that you have no time for?  Do you have a burning desire to start a blog or take up an instrument? You can take this week to research that side project that has been burning in the back of your mind. Explore your interests, and you might just find a new thing to love as much as you love being an EcoWoman!

No furlough? No fear!

These activities aren’t exclusively for the furloughed. For all you EcoWomen that don’t work for the federal government, a personal day might be in order!

What other enviro-friendly activities do you plan on doing during the furlough? Let us know in the comments!