All through the last two years, I’ve struggled with my diaper bag. Don’t get me wrong – it was navy with anchors and was very cute. But, am I supposed to carry the diaper bag AND my already large purse, which I also love? I tried many times to fit the diaper essentials into my purse, and it was just a little too small. So I usually moved my essentials from my purse to the diaper bag, and just carried that. But sometimes/many times I’d forget an essential, like … my wallet. Plus, I didn’t love the look of carrying a bag everywhere that was clearly a diaper bag.
So for Mother’s Day, my gift was a Better Life Bag. These bags are fair trade, and making these bags gives women in Detroit a second chance at life, and an opportunity to support themselves and their families.
You can purchase from the ready-to-ship selections, but I chose to design my own! I got to pick the fabric, leather color, hardware color, pocket fabric, lining, and pockets. I’m SO pleased with how it turned out! Plus, I ordered the “Harper” bag, so it’s actually a backpack. I can fit an astonishing amount of stuff inside, and it’s so much more comfortable to carry on my back than my shoulder!
I actually like it so much, it’s become my work bag too. I can fit my Surface and notebooks inside for work, and then once I’m home, I can switch them out for the diaper essentials, and I’m ready for our weekend adventures!
I recently took it as my carry on bag on a work trip. I could fit my Surface, magazines, books, and all my clothes and toiletries inside for my overnight trip.
I can’t recommend this bag enough – and they’re not paying me to say that. It’s an incredible value, and for a great cause!
2. Holy Yoga YouTube Videos
I’m starting to figure out that I actually need to invest in taking care of myself, otherwise, I’m not going to be able to take care of others. I’m not about to join Brian with the whole triathalon thing – so I’ve decided yoga is more my thing. I took a yoga class at the YMCA years ago and loved it. There’s a yoga studio downtown, but I’ve been looking for a “Holy Yoga” class. If you haven’t heard of Holy yoga – it’s yoga, but with Christian music and meditating on scripture. I thought it would be fun to try, but I haven’t found a class yet, so I started following along with some Youtube videos. I’ve really enjoyed these ones, especially the morning routines.
This blog post with boho chic rugs under $100 has made my life better. I’ve been looking for a vintagey-boho rug for the office for forever, and most rugs in that style are freaking expensive. But this blog post has so many good options! From these options, I’ve found others in the depths of Amazon and Target. Now I just have to decide which one I like best. These are my three favorites, all for different reasons. Which would you vote for?
If you’re on Instagram, you know letterboards like this run from $50 for a small square to $80 or more. I found this one on Amazon for $36! I’m loving coming up with fun phrases for it!
2. My Bullet Journal
I’m hooked, you guys! After years of never finding that elusive perfect planner with the right amount of writing space, goal tracking, and calenders to keep everything organized, I finally peeked into the bullet journal trend. Then I fell down the rabbit hole and created a whole YouTube playlist of videos on this! Now instead of having three different notebooks, one for work, one for gratitude journaling, one for goal setting and tracking in my PowerSheets, I may be able to combine it all in one place!
As much as I loved many elements of the PowerSheets system, I found myself not using a lot of the pages and forgetting to log my progress on goals, because it just wasn’t portable. With the bullet journal, I can copy down the quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily goal trackers, while keeping everything small enough to tote around.
Trend alert – if you haven’t heard of “hygge” yet (not pronounced like “higgy,” but more like “hue-guy” or “hoo gah”… it’s Danish, and really hard to say!) you will soon. It’s a Danish word, and means something like what’s described above, but in home decor, relates to making spaces feel cozy and inviting. Apparently the Danes burn candles year around, like on average having 13 candles going on any given day, or some crazy high number like that. Of course – I have a bad track record of leaving them burning … so battery operated ones are probably the best way for me to go. I’ve also been drinking lots of hot tea, and taking time to read magazines for fun with a soft, fuzzy blanket after Edison goes to bed at night.
And maybe eating an occasional Cadburry Creme Egg. Totally hygge.
4. Paper bags
Yes, I know it sounds weird, and for a long time I was very confused by this trend. This one is popular in Europe, and just beginning to make it’s way over. Why are people decorating with paper bags? And why are they cool? And most importantly, why would I pay $20 for one?
If I had to guess, I’d say these are the new fabric cubes and bins. Maybe the reason they’re becoming popular is that you can reuse what you already have. I’m still not sure why someone would buy one, but with some paint, I’m planning to DIY some Trader Joe’s bags and use them for storage in my closets. They do have a cool texture, and you can customize them easily. They’re kind of growing on me.
Looking for something better than crappy candle to stuff an Easter basket? Mercy House has these fair trade Easter bundles that come with a handmade dishtowel, cross bangle, and crocheted chick for $35. This would make a great gift!
What have you found lately that you can’t stop recommending? Let me know in the comments!
1. My Root Collective Boots. You guys, permit me to gush for a bit. I’ve wanted these boots forever, but like most fair trade goods, the price kept me from pulling the trigger. After Christmas, I finally treated myself to them, and I don’t know what took me so long! They go with everything. Now that I’ve broken them in, they’re super comfortable. They were true to size, and I get compliments on them almost every time I wear them … which is basically every day.
And the best part – as I mentioned already, since they’re fair trade, they directly employ artisans, providing an escape from gangs and a dignified way of providing for families.
Every dollar you spend is a vote for the kind of world you want to live in. These boots are made for change makin’! And good news for you – when I bought my pair, I was given a special link that would allow my friends to get 10% off of their own purchase. Check them out, you won’t regret it!
2. DIY Minimalist Videos on YouTube. I think this qualifies as an addiction. The last month was fairly stressful at work, and since I didn’t have time to do much creating myself to relieve the stress, I found that watching others create helped, plus it gave me lots of fresh ideas! I’m particularly enjoying the “minimalist” “Tumblr inspired” DIY videos. To show you what I mean, I made a playlist! Yes, there’s 45 videos in the playlist. Inspiration for days!
One of my favorites that I can’t wait to try:
3. Used Book Sales. I mentioned this on Instagram, but a few weeks ago I went to the VNSA Book Sale for the first time. All of the used books were donated and sold for charity – all half a million.
Yes, you read that right – half a million books, two days, in a warehouse in the middle of Phoenix. People started lining up and camping out the day before. My friend who told me about the sale got up at 4:30 am on a Saturday! I went with two friends at about noon, and still had to wait in line about half an hour to get it, but wow – was it worth it. I literally felt giddy – so many books, so little time, so cheap!
In the back of my mind, I wondered if there was any way I could find my favorite books from childhood – the Childcraft series, and the Junior Classics series. Both sets were old when I was reading them as kid, and when I’d looked for them online in the past, the Childcraft sets went for $100. So when I found BOTH, and the Junior Classics were $1 each, and the complete Childcraft set was $15 total – I about started hyperventilating.
Two boxes of books for $41 is about the best day ever!
4. Mom Made Market Finds. But my day actually got even better, because that same day, I went to the Mom Made Market in downtown Phoenix (shout out to AMP for driving!). We made it in the last few minutes of the market, and we made it worth our while. I brought home three prints, two tees, a romper, and a wooden cut out of of the state of Iowa.
Sadly, I can’t remember the name of the shop I bought the cacti print from. The “Low Maintenance” gray tee is from LaLa Threads, the pineapple tee and romper are from A Quiver Full (the company Edison brand reps for!) the wooden Iowa cut out is from The Treasure Hunts, and I can’t wait to make something with it.
Have you found anything lately you can’t stop recommending? Let us know in the comments!
In October of 2012, I decided to change my shopping habits. I’d learned that the fashion industry is one of the largest industries in the world, and is also notorious for human trafficking and forced labor.
Child workers, alongside exploited adults, can be subjected to violence and abuse such as forced overtime, as well as cramped and unhygienic surroundings, bad food, and very poor pay. The low cost of clothes on the high street means that less and less money goes to the people who actually make them. – Victoria and Albert Museum
For 31 days, I blogged every week day about the exploitative labor issues involved with “fast fashion.” For those 31 days, I wore ten items of clothing, and auctioned off my other clothes to raise awareness and funds for a human trafficking rescue organization. After that month, I felt incredibly free. I’d realized that I used shopping as an emotional crutch to cover insecurity, and my goal going forward was to keep 100 items of clothing in my closet.
First of all, I have to say, working full-time and blogging is hard. I have so much respect for all the bloggers out there doing it! Even after writing all day, surprisingly, I have no shortage of post ideas. It’s just the time it takes to put them together, when I need to do laundry, make dinner, eat, and all I feel like doing is taking a nap, drinking hot cocoa, and watching Christmas movies.
For weeks, I’ve had the nagging feeling that I should be putting together fair trade gift guides, but I just didn’t have the energy. But why reinvent the wheel? There’s so many other great fair trade gift guides out there already! I hope you’re inspired!
1. Cyber Monday, The Fair Way by Mercy Ink. Even though Cyber Monday has come and gone, this post contains a compilation of 10 amazing fair trade companies to shop from!
2. 25 Days of Gifts, Made in the USA from the Fair Trade Fashionistas. Stunning and unique gift options that create jobs and support local craftsmen, including those fantastic tablet and laptop cases above! In addition to this post, I think she’s planning more gift lists in the future, along the line of this one for travelers.
3. Fair Trade Christmas Gift Links from Redemption Junkie. This mega list of 19 fair trade and ethical companies to shop from won’t leave you empty handed.
5. Rage Against the Minivan created a link up of shops and businesses that meet the criteria of at least one of the following: handmade, eco-friendly and/or recycled or upcycled, fair trade, portion of proceeds benefit those in need, made by artisans in impoverished communities who are earning a fair wage, gifts that give back.
I channeled the grays of overcast fall skies and deep blues and teals of autumn lakes in this outfit.
One of the fall trends I mentioned in the first part of this series that I’m excited about is wearing hats – beanies in particular. Expect to see a beanie explosion as the weather cools off, and consider getting one for yourself that you can feel confident wearing, knowing that everyone with a part in making it, from picking the cotton to knitting the hat, was paid fairly. And as a result of your support, they’re now able to support themselves and their families.
If hats aren’t your thing, try some of the other pieces in this outfit. Not only will you be on trend with the fall blues and grays, warm, cozy, and comfortable, but you’ll also make an impact in someone else’s life. Hi-five!
Plaid, leather, chunky knits, and delicious colors are just a few of things I love about fall fashion. I especially love these items, because each of them was made by someone earning a fair wage, someone who can now support themselves, afford to send their children to school, start their own business, and contribute to their local economies. That’s what fair trade is about.
Now that the New York Fashion Week is over, fall fashion recaps are flooding my bloglovin’ feed. I love browsing photos of beautifully styled clothes with cozy textures, rich jewel tones, and classic patterns.
Some of my favorite fall trends this year include:
Plaid – almost always a fall staple, this year we’ll see a lot of it. It’s classic, timeless, and versatile. The plaid skirt I wore over ten years ago would fit right into fall 2013. Depending on how you wear it and the colors involved, plaid can be western, preppy, or celtic.
Booties – I haven’t taken the plunge to buy a pair of booties myself, but I do like how they look on other people.
Coats – These were popular on the runway this fall. Trench coats, fur coats, military style jackets, and menswear coats were a few of the trends.
Hats – Particularily the humble beanie.
Colors – The Pantone colors for fall are a mix of colors I would expect, like dark purple, red, orange, moss green, gray, and emerald, paired with unexpected colors like pink, almost-neon green, royal blue, and coffee brown.
Fur, leather, and knits – The best part of fall fashion for me is the textures. Leather is still in, fur is popular, and thick chunky knits are back.
Just to review, the ethical fashion movement is a response to the abuses that are a part of the fashion industry, such as environmental damage, excessive waste, and human rights abuses. So, in today’s post, I’ve created a few inspiration boards highlighting fair trade and sweatshop-free products that fit the fall trends.
Despite the still sizzling temperatures here in Arizona, I can’t help but longingly dream of sweaters, jeans, and boots. But whether you’re enjoying cool fall weather or suffering in the heat, you’ll love the fair trade and humanitarian shops I’m going to introduce you to today!
Beautiful and Beloved Boutique
“Beautiful & Beloved’s vision is to make a simple path for you to support individuals freed from slavery who are now empowered to earn a living in a safe, clean and just way.
Not only is our merchandise beautifully made and unique, but each purchase will dignify a survivor of human trafficking or living in extreme poverty…
Each item is hand crafted by someone who is now free to earn and create.”
Find out more on Beautiful and Beloved’s About Us page. Here’s some of my favorite items:
For each bracelet purchased, Give Bracelets feeds one child for one week (21 meals).
“Bracelets with purpose. Give Jewelry is a sustainable movement to provide food for children in orphanages throughout Indonesia. The vision is simple: every bracelet purchased directly benefits kids in need. So no matter what type of bracelet you choose; friendship,charm, leather, beaded, cuff or any of our other bracelets, you’re really choosing to make a difference.”
This shop sells fair trade tees, dresses, accessories, and jewelry from artisans in India, Uganda, Peru, and Thailand.
4 All Humanity is an online private label that offers a finely curated and designed assortment of women’s apparel and accessories from artisans around the world. 4 All Humanity believes in the beauty of helping others, living fully, dreaming big dreams and loving what you do.
Since I’ve been all about the beach lately, I thought I’d show you what I carry in my beach bag today!
Starting left to right: my sunglasses. These are from Target, purchased almost immediately when we first arrived in Arizona, almost three years ago. They’ve served me well. More about my sunglasses pouch in this post. I’ll bring my wallet, and also a colorful zippered pouch for holding make up. For the beach, it will probably just hold chapstick with SPF.
I’ll also bring some cocoa butter lotion. This tube is from Target, and I love that it’s small enough to carry onto planes. Cocoa butter has a lovely light scent, and there’s nothing better for maintaining a tan. Seriously, it will make it last for weeks.
Headphones, for plugging into my iphone and listening to beachy background music. Sunscreen, SPF 30. A bottle of water, and my sandals, which I actually bought at Disneyland.
My trusty beach towel, which matches my swim suit. I love to bring reading material, and also a notebook and pen to jot down any ideas that come to me while relaxing. My swimsuit is from Ron Jon’s Surf Shack, and I love it. The shorts are great for people like me who are self-conscious about their legs. Plus, for youth group swimming activies, the girls usually wear shorts and tees over their swimsuits, so these surf shorts are perfect.
That’s that! It all fits into this beach bag.
This bag has a story behind it. It’s handmade by the artisan business partners of Indego Africa, a social enterprise that lifts women-owned businesses in Rwanda toward sustainable economic independence through access to markets and education. They partner with over 400 women-owned business to give them access to markets for their jewelry, accessories, and home decor on their online store and over 80 retail locations. They also collaborate with major design brands like J.Crew, Madewell, and Nicole Miller.
Indego Africa’s profits go to fund training programs for their artisans taught by Rwandan university students on business management, entrepreneurship, literacy, technology, and health.
Many of these women are survivors of the 1994 genocide, which not only destroyed their country, but left them widowed. Many are the sole providers for approximately 5.5 dependents, and many struggle with HIV/AIDS. With little education, these women made less than $2 a day.
Indego Africa has several objectives for their artisan partners:
WOMEN GENERATING SUSTAINABLE INCOME. Women consistently earn more than $2 per day through their own initiative and oversee households that are entirely free of hunger, inadequate housing, and school absenteeism.
WOMEN LEVERAGING VALUABLE LONG-TERM SKILLS. Women deploy new high-value skills to earn supplemental income in their own community – whether at a cooperative, another employer, or their own business.
WOMEN RUNNING PROFITABLE EXPORT BUSINESSES. Women manage cooperatives that are fiscally responsible, effective in product design and delivery, and dynamic contributors to the community – all while engaging the global export market on their own terms.
WOMEN FEELING HOPEFUL AND CONFIDENT. Women translate their experiences of financial success and increased productivity into a lasting sense of self-worth and pride, knowing that anything can be accomplished by working together with others and relying on their own strength.
Indego sent me this Color Weave Beach Bag to review, and I can’t recommend it enough. It came signed by the woman who made it! Not only is it beautiful, it’s huge! I’m amazed by how much I can fit comfortably inside. Plus, the handles are the perfect length to carry it all comfortably on your sholder, regardless of how full it is, and it’s extremely sturdy.
Today, Indego Africa is giving away $50 to one of you lucky readers towards anything in their online shop! To enter, visit Indego’s shop and leave a comment about your favorite handmade item. After that, there’s several more ways to enter to increase your chances. The giveaway ends Friday at Midnight!