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wonders never cease

I Shop Local Because ...

We are all about local: we love our beautiful city (so much that we think it needs to be our State!), we love our neighborhood, we love our local makers and designers and creative community. We especially love that our loyal customers have chosen to support our local business (for 26+ years now!). We'd like to inspire others to join the Local Love train, so join us this holiday season for events celebrating our favorite makers, and tell us: why do you shop local?


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Pink October Rolls into November

We've been telling you a lot lately about our PROPER IN PINK campaign: 20% of all DCProper and pink fascinator sales are going to the Lombardi Cancer Center's Breast Health Center at Medstar Georgetown Hospital. We're continuing that effort through November. One reason for our increased focus this year: breast cancer just became more personal. Here goes ...

On a Sunday in August, as I was trying to decide whether to venture into my steambath of a garden, I crossed my arms. The ordinary moment changed as I brushed up against a strange lump.

I spent the evening waffling between concern and certainty that it was nothing. But on Monday, the appointments, tests, surgeries and infusions that have populated the past two months began. It was breast cancer. With the support of an incredible community of friends, staff, and a great medical team, surgery is done, chemo is underway, and radiation will come along in springtime.

I was reluctant to talk much about all of this at first, not wanting to call too much attention to myself and my family, whom I trusted would help me face this capably. They have.

As time has passed, though, I've been amazed and awed by the number of people who have generously shared their time, experiences, cooking talents, and love. It is simultaneously shocking and comforting that so many friends have been through this themselves, and that EVERYONE has a friend, a relative, a colleague who has had breast cancer.  It is a huge, non-exclusive club.

We all honor the new members with our help and our voices.

By talking about what's going on with me and my family right now, I hope to keep paying forward the love and advice that's been shared with us. And, in the lemonade from lemons department, I am happy that this provides an opportunity to hone my knowledge about chemo headwear. I've advised customers about these choices for many years, but, now, as I lose my hair, I am learning things I was just flat wrong about, and things I wish I'd known to share.

I'll be featuring my favorite headwear picks and recommendations -- as well as my fails -- here on the blog. I also have some cozy chemo wear inspiration, gifts that friends going through chemo would like, and ideas for caregivers, too. Stay tuned!

Please feel free to share with anyone you think might need it, and please know how much your support and love can help someone walking this path. It is immeasurably better with a little help from your friends.

- Anna
anna (@)

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Banned Books Week Redux

It's that time again: we're heading to MLK Library tomorrow evening for UNCENSORED, and we'd love for you to join us. We're very proud to co-host this awesome annual shindig celebrating Banned Books Week, trumpeting the right to intellectual freedom, and benefitting the DC Public Library. Books are such a vital part of our lives and our business; we are deeply alarmed when the people who oversee the education of our children deign to limit access to them.

Here's a playlist to get you ready for the party: we’ve chosen songs named for great banned or almost-banned books (annotated with a reason it was banned/challenged). We invite you to read (we’ve included a choice passage from each), listen (spotify player below), and enjoy -- then join us on Friday night at the Martin Luther King Library for music, art and crafty cocktails. Tickets are available online or at the door.

See you there!

Animal Farm by George Orwell (Communist)
1. Animal Farm – The Kinks
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” – George Orwell

Howl by Allen Ginsberg (Homosexual Acts)
2. Howl – Florence + The Machine
What is obscenity? And to whom?”  ― Allen Ginsberg

The Call Of The Wild by Jack London (Too Radical)
3. The Call Of The Wild – David Byrne
He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.” – Jack London

Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein (Adult Themes)
4. Stranger In A Strange Land – Blitzen Trapper
The slickest way in the world to lie is to tell the right amount of truth at the right time - and then shut up.” ― Robert A. Heinlein

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Racial Slurs)
5. Gone With The Wind – Ella Fitzgerald
After all, tomorrow is another day!” ― Margaret Mitchell

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (Racist)
6. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – The Pones
Perhaps it is impossible for a person who does no good not to do harm.” ― Harriet Beecher Stowe

Beloved by Toni Morrison (Adult Themes)
7. Beloved – April Smith and the Great Picture Show
Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” ― Toni Morrison

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger (Undermines Morality)
8. Catcher In The Rye – Datarock
I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it.” ― J.D. Salinger

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (Racial Slurs)
9. Huck Finn – The Statesboro Revue
Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons  attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.” ― Mark Twain

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown (Anti-American)
10. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee – Buffy Sainte-Marie
They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it.” ― Dee Brown

Native Son by Richard Wright (Sexually Graphic and Violent)
11. Native Son – John Hiatt
You asked me questions nobody ever asked me before. You knew that I was a murderer two times over, but you treated me like a man...” ― Richard Wright

Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin (Profane and Sexually Explicit)
12. Go Tell It On The Mountain – Bob Marley & The Wailers
It’s a long way,” John said slowly, “ain’t it? It’s a hard way. It’s uphill all the way.” ― James Baldwin

Ulysses by James Joyce (Immoral)
13. Ulysses – Mason Jennings
Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves.” ― James Joyce

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (Obscene)
14. Lolita – Throw Me The Statue
He broke my heart. You merely broke my life.” ― Vladimir Nabokov

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (Disturbing Imagery)
15. Where The Wild Things Are – The Other Kids
Oh, please don't go—we'll eat you up—we love you so!” ― Maurice Sendak

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley (Anti-White)
16. Malcolm X – Miriam Makeba
The ability to read awoke inside of me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.” ― Malcolm X

Moby Dick by Herman Melville (Conflicted With Community Values)
17. Moby Dick – Led Zeppelin
Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me.” ― Herman Melville

Tropic Of Cancer by Henry Miller (Obscene)
18. Tropic Of Cancer – Megan Reilly
I believe that today more than ever a book should be sought after even if it has only one great page in it.” ― Henry Miller

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (Immoral)
19. The Sun Also Rises – The Ventures
How did you go bankrupt?"
Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.
” ― Ernest Hemingway

The Words of César Chávez by Richard J Jensen (Anti-American)
20. César Chávez – El Vez
When we are really honest with ourselves we must admit our lives are all that really belong to us. So it is how we use our lives that determines the kind of men we are.” ― César Chávez

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Pornographic and Obscene)
21. Scarlet Letter – Atlas Trees
No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” ― Nathaniel Hawthorne

1984 by George Orwell (Pro-Communist)
22. 1984 – Van Halen
The best books... are those that tell you what you know already.” ― George Orwell

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Maker Camp: Sun Dye!

This sunny hot week, a lazy week between camps and family expedition to NYC, we decided to host our own Maker Camp. We were ready to try some projects we've had up our sleeves for a while. We invited a BFF, cranked up the Hamilton soundtrack, and got started. First up: the Sun Dye project we saw here and bought materials for years ago ... but never quite got around to.

Step One was setting up a shady spot -- a little harder than imagined on a 99-degree, super sunny day -- and spreading out materials: Inkodye paints, brushes, rollers, jars for mixing. Plus: shirts, tea towels and scarves for dying. Step Two: gathering foliage from the garden to spread on the dye-covered fabrics and create patterns in relief. (I loved that Lucy asked me to show them which plant matter was permissable for plucking; she knows the relationship between me and my plants pretty well.) Step Three: spreading sun dye on fabric (we used sponge brushes; it was tricky), then placing leaves and objects in a pattern. Step Four: moving the creation into the sunlight and letting it rest for about 15 minutes while the sun activates the dye.

Our first few rounds of dying taught us that the dye reacts VERY quickly to the light; that plant life needs to be weighted to successfully block the sunlight, and that the dye looks pretty cool even without plantlife patterns!

Final round, we tried rolling the ink instead of painting, and we tried using pebbles to weight the leaves. Results: the coverage was much more uniform and the negative pattern much stronger. Voila!

OK, warning: surfaces (tables, stone slabs, sink counter where you rinse brushes ...) also react to the dye. (Wish I'd read this tutorial first.) And, be aware that you might lose your artists to the air-conditioned, music-filled indoors on a hot, hot day while you're waiting for the sun to do its thing. Suffice it to say I was all alone for final round ...

It was great fun, and we're looking forward to another try, maybe on a sunny autumn day. Give it a try -- and show us your results! 

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Why We Love DC

It's hard to escape this bizarre 2016 election. Among the (many) vexing issues: the frequently-invoked term "Washington" -- often cited with vitriol, occasionally with praise, but always with reference to a famous but not-the-whole-story capital city.

For most residents of the District, that "Washington" is as foreign as it is to folks in distant states. For us, DC is home. It's fun and challenging and exciting and currently very humid. It has scads of libraries, schools, museums, and a burgeoning creative class, all of which we are delighted to support.

I am proud to call DC my hometown. (I wish I could call it my home state.) And I am delighted that my DC business, which proudly supports local artisans, is now launching a couple of our own Made-in-DC product lines: DCProper (apparel) and The Proper Kind (paper goods with positive vibes).  We'll be telling you more about these in coming weeks.

But first, we're calling on our friends and readers to tell us: why do you love DC?

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Making Good Vibes

Hey there, friends.

I think we've all been touched this summer by all of the sadness and anger unfolding in the world. In the wee small hours, when dark thoughts come out to play, it can be pretty hard to shake a sense of hopelessness. 

Though hardly original, my plan of defense is to greet each day with the goal of bringing as much good into the world as I can. Random acts of kindness, positive thoughts, good work in the community. Stuff that's important any time, but is actually important and theraputic in times such as these.

How are you doing? I'd love to hear your ideas and inspirations.

Peace and love to all,


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wonders never cease