Athena Magazine

Fashion, lifestyle, passions

Bargain Shopping, Techie Style January 20, 2009

(This article is excerpted from a really amazing indie fashion site I stumbled upon recently: the iFashion Network. Put this blog on your must-read feed!)

Bargain Shopping, Techie Style
By Catherine Shen

Your boss walks into the office and sees you typing industriously on your keyboard. He gives you a “thumbs up” and smiles encouragingly, then goes off to yell at your co-workers.

Don’t lie. It’s okay, I won’t tell that you’re really shopping online for the next bargain. And what’s a better time than the downtime at work (not that I condone this sort of behavior…ever)?

Check out, a website that focuses entirely on homemade clothing and accessories. You want to stand out, have something no one else has. This is the place to go. It screams out chic vintage in every item – definitely worth your work time. I especially love their flower brooches: very modern, and it doesn’t remind me of my grandmother, which is always a plus.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Designers don’t come cheap, that’s why offers designers at slashed prices. At times like these, perhaps giving this site a few clicks will save more than spend (don’t we all wish)? From Marc Jacobs to Juicy Couture, there is something for everyone with prices we can all afford.

Courtesy of Chickdowntown / Diane von Furstenberg.

Courtesy of Chickdowntown / Diane von Furstenberg.

Courtesy of Chickdowntown / Juicy Couture.

Courtesy of Chickdowntown / Juicy Couture.

Catherine Shen, iFashion Bloggers


Andrew’s Reclaimed – Not One Tree, Not One January 19, 2009

Submitted by Marjorie of Marjorie’s Cracked Plate Jewelry – Manager of the Reclaimed to Fame Market at 1000 Markets.

The following is written by Andrew of Andrew’s Reclaimed – Reclaimed Wood & Garden Accessories

I have always had a fascination with woodworking. One of our most ancient crafts, it is simply amazing to me how far it’s come.

Let me tell you how I started on this journey into woodworking, and how a little resourcefulness and a bit of luck has brought my eco-friendly craft into our gardens.

It started several years back, when I had dabbled a little in woodworking. A little framing here, a bit of decking and fencing there. One sunny weekend I was helping out a friend of mine. He had recently purchased his first home, and was remodeling it. Where to begin? Well, he had decided that the outside would be the best start. He had already dismantled the deck in the back of the house, and was building a new one. All of the new framing and much of the decking he had already purchased, so there we began. Come dusk, when we were close to the end, we realized that we were going to be short on supplies, as the height of the deck was tall enough that it required a railing and balusters.

It wouldn’t have been such a challenge, except the project was on a tight budget. What to do now? That night it came to me. Months ago, I had helped a neighbor friend of mine take down his old barn. The neighbor had not had any use for this decades-old mossy weathered wood, but frankly, I would have hated to see it taken to the landfill. I think even then, in the back of my mind, I knew I would bring this precious wood to good use. I had de-nailed it, and stored it for later use.

Could I re-mill this old gray heap into useful material?

The next morning I told my friend about my plans for this lumber pile. “Couldn’t hurt, Andy”. This is where discovery began. We went back to the house, collected the lumber, and off we went to the table saw. Hours of sawing led to the unveiling of the beauty and durability of this old gray stack of boards. It was beautiful old-growth western red cedar. It looked and smelled wonderful. With the railing parts ready to go, we completed his deck, and he was so happy with it. It was just lovely. A better quality wood by far. Stiffer, stronger, finer grain, and full of color, from cocoa brown to fiery reds and orange. It looked just lovely against his stone gray composite deck boards. It was so rewarding, as I knew this railing was built without having to fell a single tree.

Soon after that, I started my research into the usefulness of cedar. I had no idea that there were so many different species and grades. The year previous I had built my own deck of ironwood, and as beautiful and carefully crafted as it was, I imagined how it would have looked, had I used reclaimed cedar. If a deck could be built from reclaimed cedar, what other possibilities were there?

I had always loved the beauty and strength of an arbor, and decided to plan and build one from reclaimed cedar for next spring, for our own garden. I had always admired the craftsmanship of the European garden arbors and pergolas and their history. I began collecting reclaimed cedar wood beams and boards that autumn. From old decks and fences to large demolition projects, I collected, sorted, planed, and stacked. Every time I planed, I was never disappointed. The color and sweet aroma of this fine decades-old wood has never failed to amaze me, and I just knew that there was real potential for this reclaimed wood.

Once my first arbor was built, I had a drive. Over the winter, I continued learning, and after having built planter boxes, trellises, and other items from the same gorgeous material, I wanted other people to see the beauty of this reclaimed wood, and how useful it could be. I wanted people to see that there are many ways to use reclaimed lumber, and that there was no need to throw it away or burn it. And that there’s another way to minimize our effect on our natural resources.

I remember the conversation my wife, Melissa and I had one day about how we could show people the beauty of this recycled material and how it can be “born again” into our gardens. Where could we possibly start? “How about a farmers market?!” By this time, I had completed several breathtaking garden arbors for neighbors, and I had also started dabbling in different designs, and had completed several custom orders. We applied for the local farmers market, and were accepted. As luck would have it, our first farmers market was a hit. It was so rewarding, the number of people who were fascinated with the beauty and eco-friendliness of reclaimed cedar.

During that spring and summer, between market days, I researched and designed, and began building a variety of useful items, such as the bat houses, Flutterbye Houses, and the A.R. Bee Keep. My goal was not just to build quality into eco-friendly garden structures, but to help others with their desire to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. One of my most important goals, one that I always strive for, is to always provide my customers with a high quality eco-friendly product.

Since my spring and summer of crafting for the farmer’s markets, I have had the pleasure of being a part of, arguably the very best hand-crafted venue. I will tell you, the very fact that I have been part of the eco-friendly crafts movement has been such a pleasure. Having satisfied customers is for certain one of the most important things to me in my craft, but more than that, bringing more knowledge of eco-friendly material, and eco-friendly ways of being, is rewarding beyond what I can put into words.

I am really excited to see where the new year will take my craft, and look forward to bringing new styles out of the old barn beams and into our little corner of the world, and becoming a greater part of the solution for our increasingly eco-friendly lives.

Visit Andrew’s Reclaimed at


A white couch: It is possible to live with it January 18, 2009

couchI have always been a fan of the white slipcovered sofa, but I’ve never bought one for fear of … well … white. I have a huge, sloppy, often muddy golden retriever, who has lived his whole life lounging among dark leather sofas for just that reason. But in my new house, which is near the Sound, I am leaning toward the soft colors of the shore: neutrals, naturals, creams and whites. 469bbb2Rather than buy a new sofa, I bought a $50  natural slipcover from Bed, Bath and Beyond. It is washable, but after spending an hour tucking and fitting that thing, the last thing I want to do is take it off. It might even shrink … horrors!

canvasSo I made this amazing new discovery in Home Depot: painter’s drop cloths! For just ten bucks, I can throw an off-white painter’s cloth over the top and voila … no more freaking out when Chipper bounds onto the sofa after a woodsy jaunt. The canvas cloth is durable and resistant to dirt, and the color has just enough oatmeal hue to hide whatever dirt lingers. I’ve used one to drape a beyond-repair bench console that Chipper chewed up as a pup. Plus it’s a great fabric to make pillows, curtains, tablecloths, etc. (Don’t know if you’ve bought any fabric lately, but it’s not cheap, and if it is cheap, it’s generally not good.) The cloth shown above is the $20 8′ x 11′ version, but there’s a $10 5′ x 8′ version in the store. Find your sanity-saving dropcloth here.

Tip: Ikea has an amazingly comfy white couch for just $399!


My Favorite Teen Bedroom January 17, 2009

butterflyI’ve been renovating a house since last May, a complete gut. All I can say is think twice before doing this yourself, even if you do have a contractor husband and a separate place to live. But in the process I’ve also been doing a lot of shopping for everything from fixtures to fabrics to furniture. Today my big love is this ’70s-inspired duvet cover from Pottery Barn (which for a while was getting a little blah, but seems to have found a new spark). It reminds me of my favorite teen boudoir, my best friend’s yellow and green modular bedroom. It was soooo cool. Her fabulously wealthy parents did the right thing and built a whole teen suite for her and her bro. And then they bought her a sexy sienna Firebird which we cruised to our high school every morning. And I lived gloriously vicariously through all of it. Check out the new mod Pottery Barn here.

FYI, I’ve added this new category: Athena at Home today. I think you’ll be hearing a lot from me on this topic, as it’s ALL I think about. 

Budget tip: Duvet covers are a super-cheap, quick way to change up a room. This full/queen is only  $119. I use only white sheets, and have several duvet covers for mood and season. If you have a fav fabric and even the most modest sewing skills, you can stitch up your own in an afteroon, with a sewing pattern as your guide.


Fashion for Real Men January 16, 2009

Filed under: Fashionista Files — rebmas03 @ 10:04 am
Tags: , , , , ,

1What is it with men’s fashion? It seems like you have to be either a complete pretty-boy fop or have no style whatsoever. Isn’t there any alternative to these extremes? Enter—not too dandy, not too dowdy, its just right as a site that provides real fashion direction for real men. As someone who’s spent too much of her life trying to reform her husband’s dressing habits—with limited progress— provides some solutions we both can agree on.


(Little) Black Dresses litter Golden Globes January 15, 2009

Filed under: Fashionista Files — rebmas03 @ 4:56 am
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instylejessicaBoy, there were a lot of black dresses, little and otherwise, at the Golden Globes this year. Here’s a glimpse of some, along with a few color-saturated frocks, that turned up at the InStyle/Warner Bros. after-party. You’ll find this and other must-know red-carpet info, like Victoria Beckam’s new $120,00 Birkin, at


Best Picture: Burn After Reading January 14, 2009

burn_Now that Oscar season is upon us, I have to cast my vote for Best Picture. Basically, the Coen Brothers are just about the only people who could drag me into a movie theater. But when you throw in Frances McDormand and a movie shot in my neighborhood, that just takes the cake. For weeks we endured lousy parking while Brad and George and John cavorted in Brooklyn. Even that suffering didn’t dim my ardor. The brilliant Burn After Reading has won my nomination, although I doubt it’s even a contender. Each actor is just tremendous. I caught it on a hotel room movie system, and it’s opening in the Czech Republic next week. So if you happen to be in Prague ….  Get the facts on Burn After Reading here.

P.S. I stood next to Frances last fall at a Riverside Park stoplight while she ran in place, and I didn’t even bug her—mighty big of me since I think that she’s just about the best actor ever and also a friend of a friend. Of course, my walking buddy couldn’t resist blurting, “Hey, that’s Frances McDormand!” Argh!


The Practical Fashionista January 13, 2009

From Catwalk Creative's fab ebay boutiqueThere’s no accounting for taste—especially good taste. Since my friend Louise has opened up her new ebay store, her cool vintage items have just been flying out of the shop. I mean where else could you find My First Scrabble, a silver halter party top, and a ’70s leather disco bag all in one stop?  Louise has exquisite taste—just check out her fall fashion boho chic story, a perennial fave here on Athena. Then head to her ebay boutique to shop your little heart out. It’s like a little bit of heaven for the practical fashionista.


Rafael Fuchs’ Extraordinary Photography January 12, 2009

rafaelRafael Fuchs has got to be one of the most extraordinary photographers I know. I worked with him on a fashion shoot, and while the shots that ran in the magazine were lovely and vibrant, it was his outtakes posted on his web site that showcased his skill and finesse with color and shadow and catching photography’s in-between moments. I mean, I was right there on set, looking at the shots as they were being taken, and I still didn’t see what he saw. That’s what separates the men from the boys, so to speak, and real artists from the merely pretty fashion photographers. See Rafael’s provocative work here.


Never enough of lovely January 11, 2009

A Francesca Woodman photograph from Mia's blogI’m continually amazed by the young talent in the blogosphere. Here’s a blog by the daughter of a good friend: Lots and Lots of Lovely. Take a delightful journey with Mia as she muses on what pleases her most … and pleasing indeed it is. Visit this lovely place here.