Ch ch ch CHANGES

Eco Incognito is moving on up! First of all, I want to thank you for reading this site. What started as a friendly little chronicle of my daily attempts at going green has blossomed into a fresh social media atmosphere. For that reason, I am upgrading the site and completing a little technical mumbo-jumbo in the background to make this site more appealing to sponsors. I’m doing this because I like hosting giveaways for you guys so that you can sample some of the great products I’ve had a chance to test out and to offset the costs of the webspace. That is my full disclosure to you because I appreciate and respect your readership. Without you, this wouldn’t be a blog, it would be a lonely journal.

moving a blog

Here’s what I have planned. First, the blog is getting a facelift. I haven’t designed it yet, so I don’t know how much shapeshifting will take place, but things will look different. If you don’t like it or can’t see it, you can always let me know and I will do my best to respond to the feedback. Send an email to jeannettebezinque@ecoincognito.com anytime. I am also going to update the newsletter/email list.

Sign up for the free newsletter: http://ecoincognito.us6.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=7f2097425861006ddb56b2205&id=f339fd86e7

In preparation for my big move, tell me what you like best (or least) about some of the sites you visit. Links are welcome.

Listen To Your Mother – Lessons of Life and Death

I am humbled. Last night I met the cast of the Listen to Your Mother show of Delaware during our read through. The stories you will hear if you come to the show on Mother’s Day are incredible, raw, and impactful. I’m not sure exactly how my playful tale of breastfeeding found its way into the mix, but I am going to relish every minute I get to spend with these vibrant women.

Never in my life have I heard such an amazing collection of words about Motherhood. Some of the stories are about being a Mother. Some of the stories are about having a Mother. The ones that touched me the most were about Mothers like mine. I did not write about her, but I heard her and relived moments with her through the other stories. I am not alone in this journey and I am not experiencing anything new. It is possible that I learned more about Motherhood in two hours than in the past two years.

Many of the stories are about death. For a very long time, I was afraid to die. The fear paralyzed me because I anticipated death in an unwelcome and untimely fashion. Even though Death has not been a prevalent visitor in my life, it has been impactful. I do not know my maternal Grandmother because she died of cancer when my Mom was nine years old. We didn’t talk about it much and to this day I am hestitant to broach the subject. I have learned that in the absence of knowledge, fear grows.

I feared many things before becoming a Mother. I was afraid of birth, divorce, pain, poverty, loss of income, worms, and the outdoors. The ability to live through a setback or time of uncertainty was a mystery to me. Above all, I was afraid to die and leave behind my sweet daughters. My response to the void of knowledge was to devour books on the subjects. What started as a long, slow quest for understanding has turned into a snowballing transition into a new lifestyle. I realized that all this time, my fear of death was keeping me from living.

Right now, I am fortunate for many things. Most of all, my family. I am not afraid any more because I have an understanding of many things. Most of all, I understand that life is unexpected. The more I learn and understand a great many things, the more I have discovered that I do not need to know everything to have a satisfactory life. I just need to be in the moment. When we satisfy our most basic needs first, everything else is a gift. That is our journey. A simple quest for water, nourishment, and shelter has blossomed into the most beautiful life.

Thrift Shopping Season – Impact Thrift Store

Have you ever wondered how the experts pick their wares for the fabulous shabby-chic look? I had a chance to learn from Denise of The Painted Home at her thrift shopping event for Impact thrift stores. Denise brings an elegance to the art of ‘trash picking’ on her blog by creating swoon-worthy home decor. See anything you like?

The Painted Home Website

The Painted Home Website

I first met Denise through the Upcycle Challenge this winter and we were so inspired by her creativity. When the chance came to hear about how she rummages through trash to discover future treasures, I couldn’t pass it up. It is clear that Denise can see beauty and versatility in every piece. When I arrived at the Impact! Thrift, I noticed her display area immediately. The pieces all looked like they belonged in a DIY Network room-makeover. She staged a room with items that could easily start a conversation and create a homey atmosphere.

It was incredible to see a designer sift through the vintage cast-offs and share easy ways to transform them into a design statement. Her top choices were picture frames, suitcases, and chairs. With a coat of paint, anything can have a new life. I won a nifty set of Martha Stewart stenciling gear that I plan to put to use on some upcycling projects of my own. There is definitely a season for the hobby. The best time to shop is during spring-cleaning and the two weeks following.

thrift store fids

My personal tips for thrift shopping or garage saleing are to wear your baby for ease of transportation and to make a list in advance. My shopping trip was a huge success for these two reasons. I searched for something to wear to an upcoming event and was thrilled to find a classic white eyelet dress. My mason jar stash from the bric-a-brac section was an incredible find! I can easily buy a new set of lids or cover the jars with plaid fabric after canning depending on how long I plan to store them. In a pinch, these will make terrific glasses for an outdoor party, too. The window screen in my shopping cart is going to find a new home in our sand box. I’ll use that with the girls to sift through buried treasures like seashells, spindles, and wire baubles.  Audrey brought a smile for all the other shoppers to enjoy and gave me two solid hours of thrifting before encouraging me to move onto a more important activity (nursing the baby.) Where do you nurse a baby at a Thrift Store? In the furniture section, of course.

Denise has been wondering if the word “Trash Picking” is a turnoff for you. What would you rather call the art of searching for an upcycle treasure?

Mango Madness

Whole Foods had a FLASH sale on Mangos that I couldn’t pass up, so I decided to research how to use mangos to make sure these delectable fruits don’t go to waste. I’ve been craving mangos, so I was super-excited to see a tweet that my local shop was offering 10 mangos for $5. I bought a variety of green and yellow mangos to eat through the coming week. The yellow, slightly wrinkled fruits are so tasty right now!

mango madness in a produce bag

Although the instructions on SimplyRecipes.com don’t explain how to entertain your toddler for 5 minutes while slicing a mango, I can assure you that it is possible. Hannah sits on the counter with me while I trim and slice veggies all the time. We are both careful to work around one another since she eagerly reaches her tender fingers for bites as soon as they become available.

I started toting my own shopping bags to the grocery store in an effort to cut down on plastic bag use a few months ago and I am happy to report that it has been going really well. I plan to add a few cotton mesh produce bags to my collection before the Farmer’s Market starts up next month. For now, I’m still trying to avoid buying in plastic, but it is a process. I’m modifying a lot of things about the way I grocery shop in an effort to bring home healthier options for my family. It can be a real challenge to find something to eat that isn’t stored in plastic, so I’m starting simply by doing most of my shopping in the produce section and bringing my own bag. I also love using canvas bags because they are easy to throw in the wash. But, let’s get back to the mango party!

First of all, the raw, sunripened mangos that have been sitting near the window on my counter make the perfect breakfast side, snack, and dessert. The grocery clerk at Whole Foods said that she loves to throw a mango in the food processor with a little vanilla ice cream. That sounds delicious! I also love mangos as a salsa on top of salmon or pureed into a vinaigrette for a salad dressing. Don’t even get me started on all the ways to juice a mango or incorporate it into some of my favorite beverages like margaritas. I decided to make a pinterest board with ideas for using up all the mangos and now I’m regretting not getting more! I doubt that there will be any left at the end of this week with the way Hannah and I tear through fresh fruit, but if there are I can easily cut them up and store the pieces in a glass jar.

How to Freeze a Mango

Similar to freezing other fresh fruits, slice the mango and then start the process in the refrigerator. After they cool overnight, give the jar a quick shake and then transfer to the freezer. This helps keep the pieces from sticking together. These icy mangos can instantly fill a margarita or sorbet puree without defrosting.

Happy eating! Follow my Mango Madness Pinterest board: http://pinterest.com/ecoincognito/mango-madness/

South Moon Under at the Promenade – Press Party

The Promenade at Sagemore in New Jersey has a new shop for women that love the beach lifestyle called South Moon Under. This store has been on my radar for many years ever since visiting it during summer vacations to Ocean City Maryland with my friends. Needless to say, when the press invite hit my inbox, I jumped at the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the new store!

South Moon Under carries clothes, dresses, accessories, shoes, and loads of swimwear for women ages 15 to 55! That’s quite a range, but I learned that the most frequent shopping pair at the store is the Mom and Daughter Duo. Don’t be surprised if the adorable made-in-USA tank you covet is right next to a dress that your Mom would love. I was thrilled to see a wide variety of trendy options paired with some classic staples. They also have a fantastic jean selection with brands like Hudson, Joe’s Jeans, and Citizens of Humanity. I think it’s worth it to splurge on a perfect pair of jeans. With proper jeans care, a great fitting pair can last for years! Plus, what better incentive to shed the pregnancy weight than the goal of fitting back into the perfect jeans?

It would be easy to pair the edgy styles with iconic pieces from thrift shopping, Urban Outfitters, or Nordstrom. The shop design is pretty informal, which I found out is because the CEO gives a nod to sustainable business practices whenever possible. He passed on adding a floor to the concrete base, used repurposed wood, and practices a handful of money-saving routines at the corporate distribution center. They also use solar power there!

I would describe the style as bohemian surfer. There were so many outfits that I would love to wear while gardening this summer, too. At the request of Mr. Eco Incognito, I searched for shorts and a tank top. He also liked the color of my new nail polish from Butter London. I’m excited to try this “3-free” polish. It doesn’t have the three biggest chemical culprits of the nail industry (Formaldehyde, Toluene, DBP). This will give me a head start on my goal for next year- to green my beauty routine.

Gardening Outfit

We are heading to the water as often as possible, so I am eager to pick out a great bathing suit. Let me tell you about the selection of swimwear because there was an entire wall of fabulous one-piece options. I’m still not sure my tiger stripes are ready to see the light of the day in a bikini, so I may play it safe in a tankini. I’m also considering the strapless monokini, but I have to go back and take my husband with his discerning eye before I commit to that style. I must be a glutton for punishment. The only way to make bathing suit shopping more awful is to add an eye-witness, right?

Swim Outfit

Either way, I definitely plan to head back to the Promenade. It’s a hike to get there from my town, but there are so many great shops like Anthropologie and Lulu Lemon that I need more time to check it out. As convenient as it is to shop online, I still get a thrill out of taking a day trip to a shopping destination and enjoying the scenery and inspiration.

How to Wash Designer Jeans for Long Term Wear

There are easy ways to extend the life of designer jeans in order to get your money’s worth. With a little luck, the best jeans can last for years. When it comes to caring for jeans, less is more. Wear them several times before washing and use very little soap. The jeans will relax after a couple days of wear, but hanging them in between use and rotating a few pairs can prevent that. Hang dry on a collapsible rack for a practically-free laundry solution.

designer jeans washingHow to wash designer jeans

Wash as infrequently as possible
Limit the soap
Turn inside out and fold into quarters
Distribute jeans evenly around the washing machine basin
To hand wash, fill a sink with water and 2 Tablespoons of laundry detergent. Percolate the jeans, then hang to dry

How to Revive Old Jeans

To give new life to a pair of aged jeans, one option is to consign or thrift them. Jeans also make a great outfit for a scarecrow or can be upcycled into anything from a handbag to a jean skirt. The best designers blast holes and rips into jeans, so pull out the crafty supplies like embroidery thread and a razor blade to add more distressed embellishments.

Support Local Social Media

I love where I live. We have an amazing community with thriving business and an inspiring social media group. There are special days of the year that encourage us to shop locally, eat locally, and even think locally. Did you know that you can Click Locally every single day and make a difference in your community? Social Media helps many people and businesses do amazing things on a national and international scale, but it is slow to catch on at the local level. Here’s how you can get started if you want to support local social.

support local social media

Start A Conversation

Do you have a favorite shop, hairstylist, restaurant or park? Your friends want to know about it and so do the businesses! The internet isn’t just for complaints (although it can also work wonders for fixing problems.) I try to connect with all the businesses I frequent on the days that I drop in. Sometimes I am guilty of checking-in on my iPhone during dinner, but I’ve been trying to take care of all my check-ins and tweets while I’m at home so that I can live in the moment. My favorite ways to connect are via Twitter and Facebook.

My blogging friends do a great job of checking in all over the place. We’re putting avatars with our faces and it is paying off. Many brands hire social advocates to engage and connect online in exchange for a service. The brands who do this best know that these interactions spark worthwhile conversations. On a national scale, Disney hosts a Social Media gathering for bloggers each year to showcase the best of their brand. Last Halloween, a candy called Unreal used social channels to deliver a huge message during Halloween. This works locally, too! A month ago I hosted a party at Monkey Fish Toys and we used Twitter and Facebook to chat about the event. This month I’m excited to attend the #MomMixer from Classy Mommy and Mommies with Style. There are lots of ways to connect with brands and show off that you are a great customer.

Local Business Owners: What Can You Do Better?

Let’s face it, even the biggest hyper-local blogs only drive a minimal amount of traffic to a business website. If you expect a social partnership to drive huge click-through traffic, it rarely happens unless you hit the perfect niche at the perfect time. Social media is all about starting conversations with anyone who is chatting. Reply to every tweet. Respond to Facebook comments or repost fantastic content from the wall. Did you see a blog post about your shop? Share it in a link and then tweet back to the blogger. If a ‘famous’ blogger comes into your shop, find out how to connect and make a mention right there. Grab a photo while Social Stars enjoy brunch or at the end of a fantastic haircut and share it with your customers. Your best customer already follows you. Make sure you are delivering unique content to the crowd by incorporating the work of those around you.

You can also use social media to acquire new business. If you are in Chester County and you own a business, connect with all these sites in as many ways as you can (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram). Click all the handy follow buttons and make a quick, relevant introduction by replying to a post or tweet.

http://www.chestercountymoms.com/

http://aroundmainline.com/

http://www.phillysocialmediamoms.com/ (Find all your local social media stars by searching the Member Directory)

http://thetowndish.com/

http://www.ecoincognito.com/

Chester County Internet Marketing Group

BE CAREFUL because there are good ways to do this and poor ways to do this. If everything you write sounds like an advertisement, it will probably be deleted. Some sites only allow business interaction on certain threads. Watch the sites for a few days before jumping into the conversation and be sure to thank the host to show your appreciation for the ability to connect with a new group of readers. Most of the threads that specifically ask for recommendations are asking for just that-recommendations from peers. However, there are lots of other ways to connect and get noticed simply by participating in the conversation.

LIVE! Social

Connecting in person during events is a fantastic way to bridge the local and social media-spheres. My favorite aspect of Twitter is that it allows new connections to happen. When I get to an event, I often take a fun snapshot of myself and tag it with the event hashtag to help others find me. I might tweet this next week at the Mixer:

Hi everyone! I’m thrilled to be at the #mommixer. Here’s a selfie to help with introductions.

If you haven’t already joined Twitter, get on board! I’m planning more twitter parties in the evenings after the kids are in bed and tweetups live and in person during the day at fun, local events this summer. To get started, follow @EcoIncognito on Twitter and join in the chatter.

You’re next…

Add a link to your personal site or your favorite website in the comments below. Let’s make this a resource for Chester County Connections.