Monday, February 22, 2010

Music Mondays: Playing for Change

Playing for Change is a multimedia music project created to bring together musicians from all over the world to "inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music." It began with a mobile recording studio, used to record artists in many different places, all playing the song "Stand by Me" in their own individual styles.

This video performance shows what happens when two of the performers, Grandpa Elliot and Clarence Bekker, meet and perform for the first time:

On top of recording and sharing really cool music, the people behind Playing for Change have also opened a nonprofit organization. The Playing for Change Foundation helps support and fund music and art education in schools in South Africa, Nepal, and Ghana; with more to come in other locations in the future!

We think Playing for Change is awesome, and hope you do too!

Check out their website: for more videos, information, cds, or to donate to the Playing for Change Foundation.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lightbulbs: Your Options and How to Recycle Them!

image from State Library & Archives of Florida

Lacking light bulbs, our lives would be pretty dim and smell constantly of of candle wax. It's certainly lovely to have electric lights from a pragmatic perspective, and there are a myriad options for making them pretty, like star lamps or chandeliers. You may buy a lamp you love and never let it go, but light bulbs don't last forever, so when you buy them you have to consider not only the price and energy output, but also the environmental impact of disposing of them.

Incandescent bulbs (shown above, though on a slightly grander scale) are made of glass, with a metal wire called a filament inside. Electricity flows through the filament and heats it up, causing it to glow and produce light. Much of the energy used to create the light is lost in heat, which makes these bulbs the least energy efficient of the three types. The positive thing about these bulbs is that they are less expensive than the others at the outset (although over time they may prove to be more so, when the electric bill arrives). These bulbs cannot be recycled, but if you are the DIY type you can recycle them on your own. Readymade Magazine has a great tutorial on making a really chic vase out of an old bulb on their website.

CFL light bulbs (the swirly-curly-looking bulbs) are made of a thin glass tube that is coated on the inside with a white powder called phosphor. Phosphor has a chemical reaction when exposed to electricity which is what creates the light we see. These are popular because they use about 70% less energy than an incandescent bulb and last about ten times longer. If every household in the U.S. replaced just one standard light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb, it would prevent enough pollution to equal removing one million cars from the road. That's huge! These bulbs are also ideal for illuminating paper lanterns or using where little hands might touch them, because they stay much cooler than other lighting sources.

CFL's are awesome! But like all technology that rocks, there is usually a downside. They contain small amounts of Mercury, which aren't bad for you (unless you are breaking hundreds of CFL light bulbs a day; please don't do that), but it is very important that they are disposed of properly. If you throw a CFL away with the rest of your garbage, that mercury is going to the landfill where it will seep into the Earth and come back to haunt you and all the local plants and animals later. That's not very nice. But you can (and must!) recycle them, and it is really easy!

You have several options for recycling your CFLS. Depending on the state you live in, your local dump might have a special bin for CFLs or even a pick-up service. Some areas have a CFL pick up once a month or once a year, so be sure to check this list to find out what and when the plan is for your town.

If your time is in shorter supply than money, some sites like (which also has really good prices on light bulbs) or offer CFL recycling kits for sale. You get a bucket or a bag to fill with light bulbs over time; when it's full, you pop on the return label they sent you, call Fedex and then leave it outside your door where they will come pick it up! Easy as pie.

Another way to go is to take your expired bulbs with you when you go shopping. Bring your bulbs to any Ikea or Home Depot (some Ace and Aubochon Hardware stores also) and they will recycle them for you. Ikea will also recycle your cans, glass, plastic, paper and cardboard if you feel so inclined, and usually have bins outside the store exit for those items(bulbs need to be brought inside).

LED lights, which look much like the standard incandescent bulb, are also super energy-efficient. They last upwards of 50,000 hours, so if you buy an LED light and leave it on for 8 hours a day, you should be able to continue using that bulb for about 10 years. These bulbs are shatterproof and run cool to the touch. They are a lot more expensive than other bulbs, usually around $40. They also have an inherently directional way of dispersing light, so the size of a space an LED illuminates might be significantly smaller than those lit by another type of bulb. These bulbs can't be recycled, so if you don't want to add more trash to your local landfill when the bulb burns out, you should definitely repurpose it, maybe to make this penguin, or whatever fun project you can come up with!

It is really cool that there are orginizations out there that help us recycle when dealing with something that is hazardous to just throw away. But should the things that aren't required to be recycled just become trash? It's when we are confronted with these issues that we have to get creative.

Do you have any ideas for recycling/upcycling objects that are not traditionally considered recyclable? We would love to hear them!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sunglasses: A History and Exploration

Do you ever get the feeling that wearing sunglasses can make you invisible? Of course not literally, but it feels like people don't really know who you are or what you're up to when they can't see your eyes. Interestingly, the first "sunglasses" were made not as protection from the sun but to capitalize on this strange concept.

In Ancient China, judges would use glasses made of smoky quartz to hide the expression in their eyes as they interrogated witnesses and considered cases. In 1430, the first prescription spectacles were developed in Italy to correct vision, and they were quickly adopted in China where they were tinted by smoke to be used by judges. Now able to see better as well as hide their eyes, the judges began taking greater pride in these accutremants and ornate frames carved of either ivory or tortoiseshell soon became popular.

By the 1600's prescription glasses had become widely recognized as an effective device for helping people see better, and further developments for usefulness and comfort were made, including Benjamin Franklin's invention of the bifocal lens in 1780. In 1929, Sam Foster began selling tinted glasses designed for sun protection and style. His 'Foster Grants' were the first mass-produced sunglasses, and really kicked off the trend of sunglasses for fashion.

Now a trend even more ubiquitous than scarves, people wear sunglasses to shield their eyes from sunny skies and snowy glare, passersby and paparazzi. Some people wear their sunglasses at night, as an homage to Corey Hart or all in the name of fashion? You decide.

Either way, we love sunglasses and bet you do too! Here's a fun video we made to share the love.

What do you think? We are always psyched to hear your opinions!

Here at Mexicali, we adore sunglasses for protecting our eyes on those bright, sunny days and also as accessories to amplify the awesomeness of any outfit. Here are a few of our favorite styles:

Be sure to check out the Mexicali Blues website for more affordable retro sunglasses in cool styles and colors!

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Brief History of Scarves

Gather round for the history lesson of the day! Did you know that scarves date at least back to ancient Rome? They weren't worn for fashion or comfort but basically as a portable towel used by Roman men to wipe their faces after exercise. Eventually these extra pieces of cloth people carried around started to change from being purely utilitarian to more of a decoration when the Chinese Emperor Cheng (Shih Huang Ti) had his warriors accessorize with scarves as a mark of rank.

As history marched onward, the scarf continued its evolution as not just a useful piece of cloth but a sort of personal flag used to make a statement for the wearer. Around the 17th century, Croation soldiers wore scarves of cotton while their officers wore silk; a person could tell the rank of a scarf-clad individual without a word spoken. The French were so enamored of these unusual decorations that they adopted the style for themselves, calling them cravats, from the Croation word kravata. It became popular for men to show their political affiliation through the color of their scarves. By the 18th century, men and women alike wore scarves, no matter of the social class they belonged to. Practical when needed, and always attractive, scarves rocked even way back in the day!

These days, scarves are popular for their warmth in winter as well as being one of the boldest, easiest, fashion accessories to style and wear. Take a sneak peak below at some of what we have in stock!

This boho maroon sparkle scarf will keep you toasty warm and looking cool!

The shimmering hippie paisley India scarf is the perfect versatile fashion accent!

Check out more of our awesome selection of affordable fashion scarves at the Mexicali Blues website or in our stores throughout Maine.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gemstone Meanings Encyclopedia: Picking the Perfect Pendant for Positive Vibes

A gemstone pendant makes a thoughtful gift that is sure to wow on any occasion!

Some gemstones are thought to be particularly "romantic", like garnet, moonstone, and tourmaline. Smokey quartz is said to promote communication, and lapis lazuli is often considered the special stone of friendship. To learn more, read on!


Garnet is known as the stone of love and devotion, curing melancholy and warming the heart. It is said to stimulate passion and creativity while negating stubbornness. Noted also for its powerful protective energy, ancient soldiers would carry shields set with garnet when they went into battle.

Check out the garnet pendant , garnet earrings, garnet January birthstone studs, garnet gemstone flower earrings, and garnet flower gemstone ring at Mexicali Blues.


Tiger eye is said to promote balance, calm, and inner strength. It is a perfect stone for people who are flighty or easily distracted, as it is known to provide a sense of grounding and focus.

Check out the tiger eye pendant, tiger eye cab bracelet in sterling silver, tiger eye Celtic knot earrings, and round tiger eye pendant at Mexicali Blues.


Fire agate helps the wearer achieve better self realization and attunement to higher realms, providing clarity and stimulating awareness. Agate has long been revered as an absorber of negativity, opening the chakras, clearing out bad energy, and helping to develop natural powers and creativity.

Check out this exotic Chinese fire agate pendant at Mexicali Blues.


According to Egyptian legend, tourmaline assumed all its colors by passing over a rainbow on its long journey up from the center of the earth. It is said to break up energy blockages (experienced as anxiety, stress, or confusion) and help the wearer consider past, future, and present experiences in new ways. Tourmaline symbolizes love and friendship, and is said to make both long lasting.

Take a peek at the stunning tourmaline pendant at Mexicali Blues.


Smokey quartz is known as the stone of cooperation. A gentle grounding stone, it has the ability to transform negative energy, particularly anger and resentments. It clears up communication difficulties and stimulates the cooperation of multiple energies towards a common goal.

Check out the smoky quartz pendant at Mexicali Blues.


Amber is not a gemstone, but fossilized sap from prehistoric trees that has aged over the course of millions of years. In ancient times, amber was carried by travelers for protection. Today, it is still known for its protective qualities, and also for promoting good luck and a sunny disposition.

At Mexicali Blues, we have gorgeous golden amber as well as unique green amber pendants!


Malachite, unlike stones of the quartz family, absorbs energy instead of projecting it. Because of this, it's very useful for releasing negative thoughts or emotions. It also helps to foster creativity and encourage self-expression.

Take a look at the opulant malachite pendant & malachite bracelet at Mexicali Blues.

Turquoise is the stone of wisdom and spiritual journeying. It is grounding and at the same time allows the flow of energy to continue. Some Native cultures believed that by wearing turquoise, the human mind becomes one with the universe. Also helpful with communication, turquoise helps the wearer be honest with the self and others.

At Mexicali Blues, we have a huge selection of turquoise jewelry. On our website, check out our chandelier drop turquoise earrings & matching chandelier drop turquoise pendant, unique turquoise cab bracelet in sterling silver, blue turquoise pendant in sterling silver, exotic turquoise pendant in sterling silver, & turquoise pendant in a unique sterling silver setting.


Amazonite is a calming stone that improves confidence and restores stamina, faith, and compassion. It dispels negative energy and gives strength in making difficult decisions. It is also said to improve self-expression and enhance communication concerning love.

Find an amazing amazonite pendant in sterling silver at Mexicali Blues.


According to legend, aquamarine originated in the treasure chest of the mermaids. Roman sailors carried it with them, believing that it would protect them from drowning and ensure a good catch of fish. Aquamarine is believed to open consciousness, releasing wisdom and creativity. It has a calming effect, and thus is noted for increasing courage and fortitude.

Check out our aquamarine pendant & aquamarine March birthstone studs at Mexicali Blues.

Larimar represents peace and clarity, healing and love. It is often known as the "Atlantis Stone". A psychic named Edgar Cayce (1877 - 1945) said that part of Atlantis was in the Carribbean, and also that a blue stone with extraordinary healing powers would be found there. About 30 years after he passed away, Larimar was discovered in the Dominican Republic, which is to this day the only place it can be found.

Take a look at our enchanting sterling silver larimar pendant at Mexicali Blues.


Moonstone is the stone of romance and emotional balance. It is said to have power to arouse passion and allow lovers to peek into their future fortunes. It is also considered a very strong healing stone, particularly for women. A stone of wishes, intuition, and balance, many believe that moonstone is made from actual moonbeams.

At Mexicali Blues, we have many pieces of moonstone jewelry to suite any style! Check out our chandelier drop moonstone earrings and matching chandelier drop moonstone necklace, gorgeous rainbow moonstone bracelet, rainbow moonstone pendant in sterling silver, rainbow moonstone stud earrings, and drop moonstone earrings.


Throughout history, opal has been revered for its beauty and regarded as a stone of good fortune. The early Greeks thought that opals gave their owners the powers of foresight and prophecy, and the Romans often carried opals as talismans or good luck charms. It was said that these beautiful stones possessed the same sort of energy as a rainbow in the sky, and some believed that opal had magical powers. Legend has it that the Roman Senator Nonius chose to be exiled rather than sell his valuable opal to Marc Antony, who wanted to give it to his famous lover Cleopatra.

At Mexicali Blues, we have a wide selection of opal jewelry, like this charming opal pendant.


Lapis lazuli is considered to be the stone of universal truth and friendship. It is reputed to bring harmony to relationships and help the wearer express the self in an authentic manner. Lapis is also considered a strengthening stone, bringing mental clarity and emotional healing.

Check out the lapis bracelet in sterling silver, round lapis pendant in sterling silver, and lapis earrings at Mexicali Blues.


Amethyst helps to bring calmness and clarity, while fostering healing and selflessness. It is an excellent stone for meditation and is known as the "stone of transformation". Amethyst is said to bring wisdom by keeping the wearer connected to and aware of their more spiritual nature.

Give your hands some sparkle with an adjustable amethyst ring in sterling silver, amethyst flower ring, or faceted amethyst bracelet in sterling silver. If you're a necklace lover, our sterling silver oval amethyst pendant, sterling silver faceted amethyst pendant, or chandelier drop amethyst pendant might just be your dream accessory. Go amethyst all the way with a matching set of chandelier drop amethyst earrings, square cut amethyst earrings in sterling silver, sterling silver stud amethyst earrings, or light amethyst March birthstone earrings.

Whichever stone speaks to you, Mexicali Blues has got you covered! We have so many more pieces of gemstone jewelry in our stores, plus a knowledgable staff who can tell you even more about each stone, so stop by and see us sometime!

What's your favorite gemstone or stone story?