Fair Trade Friday - Late Nights and Sweatshop

So, it's a late post tonight.  After taking care of kiddos all day, and knowing I'll be up until midnight with little man, I'm finally sitting down to write a post at 10 pm.  Hey, if it's before midnight, it's technically still Friday, right?  I also found this awesome reality show from Norway that I watched earlier, and had to share with ya'll (apologies about the auto-start, I couldn't figure out how to turn it off, so you'll need to pause the videos so they don't all play at once!).  It has about 5 episodes, but each averages about 10 minutes, so it should only take you an hour to get through.

Oh, and keep kleenex handy, especially for episode 5.

So, this triggered a lot of emotions; sadness, compassion, anger, the whole range really.  The only logical thing to do was to share it with you guys, so you could experience it as well.  If you'd like to DO something about this, you can start by being conscious of where your clothes come from.  You can even go one step further and share this post or these videos on Facebook or Twitter.  Write letters to your favorite retailers and ask what the conditions and pay are for their workers, and let them know that their customers care about this issue.  Let them know that people should not have to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, while still not being able to afford something as simple as food.  Most of all, make your dollars count by shopping Fair Trade and secondhand first, and support companies committed to bettering the lives of their workers!  I'll continue to share these companies with you on Fridays in the future.  Thanks for stopping by, and good night.

Fair Trade Friday - Easy Access

As I've mentioned before, having a nursing baby presents a sartorial dilemma.  You've just had a baby, which means it'll probably take a while before you can fit back into your pre-pregnancy jeans, but you don't want to spend all your time in sweatpants (as comfortable as they are)!  It would be so easy to just slip into a dress that skips the whole pinching waistband problem that pants provide, but then how are you going to feed that baby without flashing your undergarments at everyone?

The solution? Easy access dresses, i.e. dresses that allow for nursing, don't scream "I'm a milk machine," and can still be worn long after you've stopped breastfeeding that baby.  It's a super plus if they'd really be cute for anyone, whether you're a mama or not.  So I scoured the internets, just for you, to share a couple of Fair Trade options!

First up is this adorable little frilly number from Mata Traders:

'For the Frill of It' in black
That overlapped neckline would be perfect for a nursing mama, plus the elasticized waistband and ladylike shape is super flattering for a post-baby bod.  And that black and white floral print?  Adorable.  And as if that weren't enough?  It's currently on sale, has pockets, and also comes in red.

Another option is this classic wrap dress from Indigenous Designs:

Black Wrap Dress
I actually already own two wrap dresses, one of which is extremely similar to the one pictured, so I can testify to the versatility and general ease to wearing one!  This is a piece that you could invest in, and wear for literally years to come. It's made by Fair Trade artisans in Peru, and is constructed from organic cotton.  It also comes in a beautiful shade of blue, and an equally classic white.  Plus, if you sign up for Indigenous' e-mail newsletter, you'll get a coupon for 15% off your purchase!  (There's also some great faux wrap options out there, from Mata Traders, Free People, and this beautiful and dramatic choice from Frock LA.)

The last lovely option I chose was this great shirtdress from People Tree via Modavanti:

Rachel Dove Dress
I mean, could you get any cuter?  It's a classic silhouette, with its collar and nipped-in waist, but it's such a rich, saturated blue, covered with tiny birds!  The button-down placket is perfect for breastfeeding or pumping, while still keeping you covered where you'd like to be.  In addition to that, it's made by artisans in India from organic and naturally dyed cotton.

That does it for my round-up of nursing friendly dresses!  Is there anything you'd like to see featured on Fair Trade Friday?  Baby stuff?  Fair Trade jewelry under $20?  The sky's the limit!  Just let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to track down the best ethically made options for you!

OOTD - Twice as Nice

So, as I talked about in my last post, I'm on a mission to simplify our life and declutter.  A big part of that is making sure that the items in my closet are able to pull double duty, and be worn multiple ways in order to earn a place in my clothing collection.  One piece that has gone above and beyond is a little black tunic dress I thrifted while pregnant.  It works great in a 'tunic/leggings/sweater/boots' combo, and I realized recently that I'd put together two different outfits with the same combination of pieces, and the same dress!  So, this little dress has definitely proved itself to be a keeper!

Outfit Details:
Dress: thrifted, $3
Leggings: Wal-Mart, $6
Sweater: thrifted, $4
Earrings: Maurice's, $3 (clearance)
Boots: Target, $38
Grand Total: $54

Never mind the cartoon animals on my porch... I forgot to crop my house number out of the pictures!
Outfit Details:
Dress: thrifted, $3
Leggings: Wal-Mart, $5
Sweater/Cape: thrifted, $2
Earrings: NY&Co, $2 (clearance)
Necklace: JCPenney, $4 (clearance)
Boots: Target, $38
Grand Total: $54

The #365daysofstuff Challenge!

I, Grace Holt, of the A-Holt clan, have had two epiphanies today.  The first, that Cheetos smell like poots.  Don't get me wrong, they're delicious, but you open a bag and it smells like our always full diaper pail there for a second!  The second epiphany?  I have too much stuff.  Between our overflowing corner of canned goods in the kitchen....

...my stack of cookbooks stashed away in a cupboard, when all my recipes usually come from Pinterest....

...the box o'stuff on the computer desk that I keep saying I'll sort someday (yes, those are our Christmas stockings stuck in there).....

...or the coup de gras, my dresser...

...our little house is busting at the seams with all the stuff we've accumulated over the years of marriage and child-rearing.  And, basically, I'm in the mood where I just want to get rid of everything!

However, before I decide to get rid of all our earthly possessions, I really need to examine my heart. No, I'm not headed to the cardiologist, I'm just talking about my reasons why I feel the need to hang onto all this stuff.  Some of it we need, but a large portion we could live without.  It would most likely simplify our lives if we decided to live more, well, simply.  It would make life easier if I could put all my clothes away in their drawers instead of smashing them on top of the other clothes that I never wear but keep just because someday I might need to wear a short sleeved cropped sparkly blue cardigan even though I've only worn it once (how's that for a run-on sentence?).  But, I keep the cardigan, because what if someday it matches the outfit I want to wear?  I keep all the canned beans that are actually (confession time here) overflow from the pantry because there's too much food already stored in there.  How's that for a first world problem?

As I mulled over our issue of 'stuff,' I realized what the reason is.  It makes me feel safe.  If, for whatever reason, my husband lost his job, or a zombie apocalypse actually occurred, we'd have food stored away to survive.  Never mind the fact that I claim belief in a God that will provide if we ever found ourselves in that situation.  Never mind we have amazing family in the area, both biological and through our church, that would never allow us and the kiddos to starve.  Never mind the fact that Jesus specifically says not to worry about food, or clothes for that matter.  If I'm going to trust Him, part of that is letting go, and being willing to part with the things we don't need.  Because, at the end of the day, they're just things, not a security system.

So, in my effort to lead a simpler life, and in the process, trust God a bit more, I'm challenging myself.  Here it is:

For the next year, until 2016, I'm going to find one thing per day to give away.  I can either go once a week and pick seven items, or just pick one per day, but at the end of the year, 365 items should make their way out of our house.  On top of that, if I buy something new in the next year, I'll stick to the 'one in, one out' rule, in addition to the other items being culled from our midst.  It could be a sweater that never gets worn that could bring a few dollars to a local women's shelter through their thrift store, were I to donate it.  Those cans of beans could be donated to a local food pantry.  I could even make it as simple as going through all the pens on the computer desk (there's so many!) and throwing away the ones that don't work.   Basically, in the words of the cinematic masterpiece my kiddos have been watching non-stop lately, Veggie Tales: Veggies In Space, "if you have enough to spare, you've got enough to share!"

I share this, not to make myself look like this super awesome person, but to keep myself accountable.  I'm not exactly a poster child of sticking with projects until they're finished.  I'll post weekly updates on my Instagram (@lifewithaholts), and also post monthly updates here. Feel free to hassle me if you don't see me posting anything, too!  If you'd like to join me on this year of donating and decluttering, feel free to post the items you're donating on either Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest, and tag it #365daysofstuff.  Since it's already the 19th, I need to find 19 items to donate, and I'm getting started with these 7 mugs and glasses... only 12 more to go!

Feel free to stop by tomorrow for an outfit post!  Spoiler alert, it involves one dress doing double duty.  Thanks for reading!

Thrifted Pinterest - Caped Crusader

I live in a house full of princesses and superheroes... Don't believe me?  Don't worry, I have photographic proof:

This pic's courtesy of my shiny new Instagram account... you can follow along, if you'd like, at @LifeWithAHolts
I figured I could jump on the family bandwagon, and do some dressing up of my own!  While little man rests up for his future of crime-fighting capers, I'll wear the cape for him...

When I ran across this lovely sweater/cape hybrid on a recent thrifting expedition, I knew it was going home with me... not only is it the apparent 'color of the year,' Marsala (which looks suspiciously close to burgundy, but I suppose there's a difference between the two...), and a currently trending silhouette, but it's zebra print!  I think I've already mentioned my love affair with animal print....  I took a cue from some other fashionable ladies and kept it simple while styling my newest find.


Now, if you'll excuse me, Gotham needs me.  ;)

Outfit Details:
Cape/Sweater: thrifted, $4
Black Top: free via clothing swap
Jeans: thrifted, DIY'ed to skinnies, $2
Boots: via Plato's Closet resale, $8
Earrings: old, don't recall
Grand Total: $14

OOTD - Wild Thing

I love me some animal print.  I think my love affair started in junior high, when I became the proud owner of a zebra print sleeveless shirtdress that I basically wore into the ground.  So, when I stumbled on this leopard print teal sweater at Goodwill a while back, I knew it had to be mine.  It's a perfect piece to add a little bit of crazy into a basic 'running some errands and a quick doctor's appointment' sort of outfit.  Plus, the necklace I found just before Christmas happens to match perfectly!  I guess that's what happens when you gravitate towards Lisa Frank colored clothes... I haven't grown out of all my junior high obsessions, apparently. ;)

Outfit Details:
Sweater: thrifted, $4
Jeans: thrifted, $2
Boots: Target, $38
Necklace: JC Penney, $2, clearance and with coupon
Bracelet: JC Penney, $1, clearance and with coupon
Grand Total: $47

Oh, and if you thought my sweater was crazy, wait until I introduce you to our resident pantsless wonder...... just listen for the required two-year-old 'nooooooo' at the end!  Never a dull moment in this house!

A Question for You!

I'm alive!  Blogging has definitely taken a back seat to the rest of my life... and I'm totally okay with that.  Adding a third little person to our family has basically turned me into a hermit lately, so I've stopped taking outfit photos temporarily... I figure day after day of "OOTD - Yet another combination of a t-shirt and sweatpants" might end up getting old!  I'm hoping to get back into a more regular posting schedule soon, once we start venturing outside again.  I do want to hear from you guys, the readers of this little blog, about what you'd like to see more of.  So, check out the poll at the top left of the page, and let your voice be heard!