Archive for August, 2009

Secret Agent L: Specializing in Anonymous Acts of Kindness & Day Brightening

Secret Agent LIt’s Monday again- time flies! You may have noticed that for the past few Mondays I have tried to write about some good causes you can support & join so I decided to do the same today too. I found out about the Secret Agent L Blog through Beach Bungalow 8 which I always inspires me, and when I read about Secret Agent L’s Mission- I was doubly moved.

Secret Agent L is based in Pittsburgh and basically goes around doing nice things for people. She “specializes in anonymous acts of kindness and day-brightening.” After checking out some of her kind deeds online I decided to become a Special Agent myself and wrote to her for my mission. I got back a list of instructions and went about picking some items (from the shop) to fill the bill and then I was off to drop them off for strangers to find. She asks her “agents” to document the prep work and the drop off and then she posts them on her blog. You can see people from all over the country have heard the call and signed up to be Agents themselves!

Whenever I need a lift, I always try to do special things for other people- usually for loved ones, but doing something special for a stranger is very fun too. Who will find the prize and smile? Secret Agent L hopes to spread this message of doing nice things for others, across the world.  Poor Secret Agent L though, because in the midst of spreading her kind message, she was hit with a personal loss.  Everyone’s pictures and stories make her- and all who read her blog- smile, so maybe this post will help you to be inspired to bring some “Anonymous Acts of Kindness and Day Brightening” to your world too and keep her message going. Let me know if you do!

Back to School- College Survival Kit!

37013701secondIt’s that time of the year again, college kids are BACK AT SCHOOL! Send your favorite Collegiate Co-ed off in style with our College Survival Kit– complete with 15 things that a college student won’t mind gaining:

1. sleep mask

2. ear plugs

3. Book light

4. Book clip and stand

5. Privacy Door Sign

6. First Aid Kit

7. Thermometer

8. Mending Kit

9. Laundry Instructions

10. Collapsible Clothes Hamper

11. 6-in-1 Screwdriver

12. Reusable Poster adhesive

13. Air Freshner

14. Jolt Caffeine Energy Gum

15. Domino’s Pizza Gift Certificate

All neatly packed into a shower tote!

College Survival Kit, $49.

MJ’s Birthday/BAD video/Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway stop

Today is Michael Jackson’s birthday and despite the rain Spike Lee is throwing a party for him in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park (at The Nethermead to be exact if you are planning on going, from noon- 5pm today). I love Michael Jackson and of course I love Birthdays but I was trying to think of a way to tie it all back to the shop.  While riding the A train on Monday,  I picked up a dis-regarded paper and Bam! There it was. I  read this interesting article in The New York Post, and it’s been a hot topic on the local community listserve ever since: City Coucilwoman Letitia James is trying to rename Hoyt- Schermerhorn train station after Michael Jackson since his video BAD was filmed there (in 1987, directed by Martin Scorsese).

I had no idea that the station I go to almost every day, and is a block from the store,  had another claim to fame (you may remember scenes from Pelham 1-2-3 were filmed there). Pretty cool I must say (although worthy of a name change? not so sure). My dad was working for the MTA back then (just down the street from the shop/station)  so either it escaped my memory or my Dad didn’t feel that newsworthy to pass my way. Anyway, I like New York Magazine’s Daily Intel write- up on it, since as they say,’Hoyt-Schermerhorn’ already has such a nice ring to it.”

Of course the MTA rebuffed the idea (quoting The Post again, they told her to “Beat It.” ha! they always make me laugh) and so now the councilwoman is asking that a Plaque be placed in the station in his memory. Interesting though because in The Post article (aptly named “Jacko off Tracko”) I learned that “Earlier this year, agency honchos agreed to the MTA’s first-ever naming rights deal. Developer Bruce Ratner is set to pay the MTA $200,000 a year over 20 years to add the name of his planned Barclays Center NBA arena to the Atlantic Avenue transit hub in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.”

Hmmm. I guess everything has its price especially when the MTA needs some money. The subway fare JUST went up, hopefully there is not another one coming anytime soon.

Well, Happy Birthday Michael. RIP. And Thank You for everything. Including the Moonwalk in Brooklyn.

2nd Installment of DOES IT REALLY WORK by Jessica Rall

Healthy Harvest Freshness ExtendersToday’s subject by Roving reporter Jessica Rall– Healthy Harvest Freshness Extenders

On the Healthy Harvest website they say Americans throw out 25% of their produce due to spoilage. Oh yeah? Well not this girl. I’ve always had a Depression-era mentality about the fridge and refuse to let anything go to waste. Which is also why I’m a card-carrying member of the Clean Plate Club. But in a city with the best restaurants in the world, I don’t want to be chained to my produce drawer. This is where the Healthy Harvest Freshness Extenders come in. These little babies control the level of ethylene gas which is produced as fruits and vegetables ripen, and can double or even triple the life of your produce. Since I’ve been using them I’ve noticed a marked difference, so I can go out to eat a guilt-free burger while my spinach stays fresh and crisp at home. They [each] last for three months and at a very recession-friendly $11.50 will more than pay for themselves in saved groceries.

Editors Note- Sooo go crazy at the Farmer’s Market this weekend knowing you are well covered with our Healthy Harvest freshness extenders! Also stay tuned for an exciting new product from the mastermind behind the company who brought this grocery store technology to home kitchens. We don’t know what it is yet either, but the owner has been talking it up for MONTHS and promises to knock our socks offf! For now- these great eggs are $11.50 for a set of 2. Available in Red, Yellow, Green and Blue.

Highbrow Chic: City Plates!

3725How beautiful and chic are these City Plates?? I love them! What a lovely gift- FOR MYSELF!! Oh yes, and for other people too. These porcelain plates measure 12” across, with each city’s downtown core printed on a black background. Key buildings are represented with red icons, while rivers and public spaces are shown in blue and green. Each plate is boxed and includes a key to the buildings and spaces included on the plate. I am hanging some up at the shop but they are also perfect as a serving piece to give some glamorous pop to your table. We have NYC (above), Tokyo, Paris and London. More available upon request. $49.95 each.



Lowbrow cool: Cup o’ trash bin

cup o trash binLowbrow cool: We are getting soo much great new stuff in, I am not quite sure where to start. So, as usual I will start with what makes me laugh- and these Large “We are happy to serve you” cups fill the bill. Fill the bin is more like it since they can be used as trash cans (or big banks!).  Super size your coffee habit with these clever cups. They even have a to-go cover that you can punch out for a cool lid! Dimensions: 11.75″H x 9″L. $36.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s “Highbrow cool” – and my new favorite item for the slightly more upscale customer!

NY Magazine’s Fall Preview and “Their Favorite Things!”

Fall Preview issue NY MagazineNew York Magazine’s Fall Preview Issue is out and we are so happy to be a part of “Their Favorite things” feature where they write about One Hundred of the Top Picks in Stores Now (also their Shop-A-Matic this week). Our item is the Bunny Market Tote which we just got in and makes me smile every time I see it! How cute! How fun! How functional!

Market toteThe cute little bunny comes in 4 colors (Black, Orange, Grey and Brown- perfect for fall!) and when you zip out the back, viola- you get a nylon tote bag! You can even attach the rabbit to the outside of the bag for more smiles while you are running around doing errands. They asked us for a quote, so I said “A quirky twist on a market tote.”  We are honored to be in excellent company in the write up too- Barneys, Murray’s Cheese, Kiehls, Space NK, Kirna Zabete, Design within Reach, Bird, Mxyplyzyk and many more great shops (we are between Bottega Veneta and Kiki de Montparnasse). Very exciting! Bunny Market Tote is available in stores and online for $27. Get one now! (you might also recognize something else on their list we have in stock too- the MTA Mighty Wallet I wrote about a few weeks ago)

Donors Choose- Help a Public School Classroom today!


Jennifer, a customer, store neighbor &  friend and I were chatting
about life this past Spring when she told me about a great
organization, Public School teachers all around the
country post classroom project requests on the Donor’s Choose website and then donors
like you and I literally choose which projects to support. Here is a
little info from Jennifer (a 6th grade teacher who also reads
proposals for Donors Choose in her spare time-?!?)-

It’s a great organization that has been instrumental to my
teaching–I’ve had 17 projects funded in the past six years. That’s
thousands of dollars donated to my classroom and students for

[Jennifer is second grade special education teacher- teaching  what’s known as an inclusion classroom where 40% of the second graders have mild disabilities. the other 60% are “general education” students]

Here are three “active” projects posted by me (the first one) and my
colleagues (the other two)
EDITOR’S NOTE: These are all for Brooklyn
Schools, you can “get local” on the site to find a school near you. Click on each below for more info and to donate.

More Books On CD, Please!

 Rug Crunch

Pencils to Write and Sharpener to Sharpen!

And these are just THREE of MANY projects on the site.

Most projects ask for relatively little money, and for as little as
$25 you can really feel like you are making a difference to a
classroom. All donations get a thank you note from the teacher, pictures of the project taking place and a cost report showing how every dollar was spent. Donations of $100 and over get hand written thank you’s  from the students as well!

We here at Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store are big proponents of Public School and are proud to support Donors Choose, as well as the Fund for Public Schools and their upcoming event Shop for Public Schools (the beginning of October).

Jennifer and ALL THE AMAZING TEACHERS out there are such hero’s!

As we all go “back to school” help support a classroom today!

P.s. You may have read about this great organization also on my favorite Manhattan Users
Guide-here is their write up…

Cracking up

3715Love these brand new (to us and the market) party crackers we just got in! They come with the requisite party hat, snap, joke but also CRAYONS (coloring sheets included inside the box too) so you can easily entertain the kids at your next party or at the Kids table at the next family dinner! Continue the English party cracker tradition the whole year round. 8 Party crackers for $19.95.

First installment of DOES IT REALLY WORK? by Jessica Rall

The_Laundress_logoWe have a guest blogger for the next few Fridays in a new segment I am calling, “Does it Really Work?” Our trusty sidekick Jessica Rall took on the fun (!?!) task of documenting a few of her latest purchases from the shop and put them to the test. Today she regails us with her experiences with The Laundress’ Stain Solution (editors note here- this product is how I found The Laundress to begin with– as I was searching for a good product to remove stains from my favorite pieces of clothing, many I have had for DECADES and still cherish and wear all the time thanks to The Laundress)-

I love white. White sheets, white towels, a crisp white button-down shirt….but invaribly I will spill something on everything white I own: red wine, soy sauce, coffee (like today). Which leads me to my first edition of “It Really Works”. The Laundress products are the talk of the town. People come in all the time specifically for them and seem to be diehard believers in the line. Is it just the beautiful and elegant packaging? Is it that the products are 100% biodegradable and made from organic materials? Or perhaps it’s the absence of beef products found in many fabric softeners (excuse me?!?!?!). So okay, it’s beautiful, smells great, is made from good stuff, but Does It Really Work? I wanted to try out the Stain Solution so I decided to check out as recommended by the label for stain removal “recipes” and watched a video on how to remove stains. And then I put it to the test. I created a nice big coffee stain on an old white shirt.

stain solution one I let it sit all day and over night to really set in. The following afternoon I applied the Stain Solution directly to the stain and let sit for a few minutes while I heated some water in the kettle. Just before it hit boiling I poured water on the stain, and let the whole thing sit in a hot bath for the rest of the day. And…..ta-da!!!!!

stain solution two

No more stains. So, yes it’s made with renewable resources. Yes, it’s free of dyes and artificial ingredients. Yes, it’s a plant-based product. Yes, it’s tested on the very human owners instead of animals. And, Yes! It Really Works!

Thank you Jess for that fine example of investigative reporting! You can get some Stain Solution at the shop too- $16 for 16 oz.

August 2009