It’s a Whole New (Blog)

Hi you guys! Finally, FINALLY I am back on the blogging wagon. Welcome to the new space we are calling home: Notes From A Thoughtful Life!  When I first got the idea to change the name I did not expect it to take THIS long.  But you know, life.

As a quick PSA, in my stumbling through the blog transition I lost the email addresses of all you email subscribers.  So sorry!  Total newbie mistake.  So if you subscribed via email and want to keep getting new posts in your inbox, please re-subscribe!

Also,  if you run into any kinks or have trouble with accessing the blog through a feed reader or whatever, I would love if you sent me a short email and let me know what isn’t working (just click the contact button above). Thanks so much!

Now, on to the fun stuff!

Besides the obvious name change and a few little tweaks, one of the biggest additions to this blog is something I am super excited about. It has to do with that little button over there called “the shop”.

The SHOP, y’all!

“The shop” is a small collection of prints that are serving a super awesome purpose. Lemme explain.

Next month I am running four half marathons in four weeks. Yes, you read that right. Four weeks. Four half marathons. Next month.

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I am running the marathons with a great team for a pretty simple reason – to raise support for the orphan work in India, specifically kids with HIV/AIDS.

My church here in Boise, Calvary Chapel, has a network of orphanages all over India and one of their main focuses is to care for children diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. These orphanages provide a loving environment for the kids to live plus things like food, education, medical attention and more. They also take care of HIV/AIDS positive adults in the community. Their willingness to work with this need has opened up so many opportunities – local governments are allowing them into areas of the country that have been inaccessible to these types of organizations in the past!

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Every single penny we raise through these races goes directly to the orphanages. One hundred percent. The prints in the shop are part of my contribution. When you buy a print you are supporting the orphanages and giving me a virtual you can do it! high five (because, seriously, these races are no joke. I get a little overwhelmed just thinking about it).  Just like other race contributions, all the proceeds from these prints goes directly to the orphanages in India.

For me the coolest part of these half marathons is something that I’ve actually mentioned before: it takes something ordinary and turns it into something we can use to change the world. I can’t just pick up and travel overseas to serve those in need but heck, I can run and I can draw and I most definitely can use both of those things to make a difference!

So…go check it out! 

PS // It’s been awhile since my last Friday Feature so this Friday I am sharing some of the new fair and ethical companies that I have discovered over the summer. Can’t wait!

Favorites This Week (8/28)

Wildly Co. is an ethical kids clothing line started by Hayley (of The Tiny Twig) and her husband Mike.  They are running a Kickstarter campaign for their fall line (which looks super cute!).  It’s kind of cool getting to be a part of a little company that is trying to do something good!  You can get involved here.

9 Social Justice Books To Read This Fall // Relevant Magazine

Ethical Back To School Shopping (Part 1) // Intentional Jane

How To Live An Exceptional Life When Life Doesn’t Feel Exceptional // The Art of Simple

 

Enjoy your long weekend!

Jess

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Just Some News

I got some news, you guys! But first, this is where we were this weekend:

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This was when I was huddling by the fire soaking up a few minutes of morning quiet while the kids slept in the tent.  So thankful we live just mere hours from gorgeous places like this, though I think I’ve had my fill of winding, I-think-we-could-fall-off-the-side-of-the-mountain roads for a little bit.

Anyway. On to the news!

This blog is getting a mini makeover, in the form of a name change! Now that I’ve been blogging for almost a year I feel like I have a much clearer idea of what I enjoy writing about and where this blog is headed. For The Love of Justice is an alright name but I feel like it doesn’t encompass the things I am most passionate about – living simply and finding ways to be intentional and thoughtful in the everyday aspects of my life (at the grocery store, with those I love and so on).

Sooo…beginning in September this blog will become Notes From A Thoughtful Life.

Because apparently I can’t seem to pick short names.

The thing I like most about the new name is that it feels more open ended. I can (and will!) still talk about fair trade and living thoughtfully but I am also able to blog about the other things I love that don’t quite fall under justice type topics.

For the rest of the month I will be working on switching this blog over to the new name. Hopefully everything will go seamlessly but I’m still a total newb at all this website stuff so I sincerely apologize if you run into any glitches along the way!

While I am doing all the glamerous behind the scenes stuff, you can keep yourself entertained with a few of my old posts from when I first started blogging last fall!

Can I REALLY Make A Difference?

Our Clothes: Where They Come From And Why It Matters

Where To Find Sweat-Free Clothing

Embracing Normal (Because you need to read that Henry Drummond quote at the very end. So, so good.)

And my very first blog post ever…The Beginning

Favorites This Week (8/1)

My Beauty Routine // Unfancy 
I love Caroline’s take on balancing natural body care with the regular old stuff and her thoughts on body image.

Thirty In a Box // You Are My Fave 
In light of this week’s birthday post, I sorta love this idea!

7 Reasons Why We Should Stop Praising Excess // Becoming Minimalist 
Yes.  Just yes.

#BringBackOurGirls May Be Doing More Harm Than Good // Relevant Magazine
I really appreciate the perspective of this article and reminder to be intentional about social justice issues.

One Family’s Mantra & How It Has Shaped Them // Let Why Lead
I love, love, loved this.  So much I wrote “Do The Hard Things” on a piece of paper and hung it on my fridge.

Happy Friday, Y’all!

 

Ethical Birthday Gifts + Thoughtful Gifting Tips

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Is there an official birthday season? Because I feel like we are in it. Not only am I a summer birthday girl and so are three of my grandparents, my husband, my sister, my daughter and a long line of friends or their kids! I could list them all but we would be here awhile.

Mr. Google has confirmed my suspicions. September 16 is the most popular birth date for those born from 1973 to 1999. However, the months leading up to that day – June, July and August – rank as the most popular months to be born (you can check out this chart). All those holiday festivities and new year resolutions about nine months ago must’ve put everyone in the baby making mood (wink, wink).

In honor of all the summer birthdays (and all those birthday parties you are probably attending) here are a few fair and ethical gift ideas. They all sit nicely at twenty bucks or less so there is no need to shell out a lot of cash to gift thoughtful yet ethical presents!

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1. Owl Salt Shakers // Serrv $16

2. Chocolate & Beer Pairing Kit // Fair Trade Winds $20

3. Mustache Coasters // Greenheart Shop $13

4. Mr. Mustache Eyeglass Holder // Fair Trade Winds $18

5. Stitching Postcard // Oeuf NYC  $5

6. Terrarium Postcards/ wall art // Quill & Fox $7

7. Good Luck earrings // Mata Traders $18

8. Leather Journal // Light Gives Heat $20

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1. Eco Kids Modeling Clay // Fair Indigo  $19

2. Sammy Snail Whistle // Serrv  $5

3. Lion // Amani Ya Juu  $12

4.  Green Toys Fire Truck // Amazon  $20

5. The Pom Headband // Krochet Kids  $7.50

6. Lately Lily Activity Kit // Lately Lily  $15

7. Four magnetic cubes // Tegu  $12

8.  Green Toys Race Car // Greenheart Shop  $13

 

THREE TIPS FOR MORE MEANINGFUL GIFTS

Thoughtful trumps expensive and elaborate.
I love giving gifts. I’m not always perfect at it, but I really like searching for a gift that I know the recipient is going to love – not just something I threw together at the last minute (though that sometimes happens, not going to lie). Gifts, when chosen right, have this amazing quality of being able to convey thoughtfulness and appreciation without any words at all. How much they cost or how mind blowing they are has nothing to do with that!

Don’t hate the gift card.
The gift card sometimes get a bad rap. It’s so impersonal. It looks like you don’t care. Blah. Blah. Blah. HOWEVER, I love getting gift cards. I sometimes feel guilty about spending money on just myself so a gift card all to myself is seriously awesome. And I’m kinda specific about the things I like so again, the gift card! The key to making a gift card look like you care is really in how your present it.  Dress it up in a pretty birthday card or give it alongside another small gift, like a chocolate bar or their favorite pack of drinks!

Write a note.
Encouragement is the best, y’all, and my family is awesome at it. My sisters and mom write the nicest and most encouraging things to me and it makes. my. day.  One of the best ways to make a gift meaningful is to write a sweet note in the card. Kind, sincere words have a way to staying with you for a long time. Tell the birthday person what you love or admire about them. It might be even more memorable than the gift!

What are your gift giving tips?

One Thing At A Time

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I randomly picked up a book recently called The Power of Less by Leo Babauta. Well, I guess it wasn’t random since I will read anything I can get my hands on when it comes to minimalism and simple living. More like spur of the moment. But reading it couldn’t of come at a better time.

The last few weeks have been rough, which is some of the reason I took a bit of time off from writing around here. While summer is fun it’s also draining – my kids think it’s acceptable to stay up until almost my bedtime, since it stays light here until after 10 pm. Afternoon rest time has been a struggle too and if you have kids you will understand me when I say no rest time and late bedtime is HARD. I was living on an average of six hours of sleep a night, on my feet all day with the kids and just struggling in every single area of my life. The laundry was an endless cycle, with piles of clothes all over the house. The dishes were never done. I was trying to break up fights and rock the baby and cook dinner and run errands and when I sat down for a minute I was just empty. I had no words or thoughts. Just tired and so weary. It was this endless cycle of striving and and wanting to do everything yet somehow not doing much of anything. And I wasn’t sure how to make it all stop.

Last week I was at the point where I could not take it one more day. Something had to change. I was trying to figure out what I could do to somehow balance the craziness of my family and home with time to myself and space to do things I love, like write here on this blog and read and create. That’s when I picked up The Power of Less. I’m only a few chapters in but already it is helping me refocus and be more intentional. The Power of Less is about eliminating the unnecessary so you can focus on what’s really important. It’s about cleaning up the clutter, rubbing the smudge prints off your sunglasses and paring things down to just the essential so you can live more clearly.

Leo Babauta compares simple living to a haiku, that short Hawaiian verse that is bound by 17 syllables and three lines. To convey the right emotion a poet must be selective and thoughtful with his words, choosing words that matter and express exactly what he wants to say. A haiku is beautiful because it has limitations. A simple life is beautiful because it has limitations. You don’t have to do everything all the time.

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“By setting limitations, we must choose the essential. So in everything you do, learn to set limitations.”

This thought, while not necessary new or ground breaking, has been revolutionary for me. Limitations. Simple focus. One way the author puts this idea into practice is by focusing on one thing at a time.

Stop the multitasking.

Focus on one goal.

Change one habit at a time.

So this week I am trying to focus on the essential, figuring out what really isn’t working and making one change to simplify and streamline. I started with creating a solid evening routine. By the end of the day I am tired so I’ve been really bad about leaving the the toys all over the living room floor, dirty dinner dishes in the sink and so on, which of course makes waking up the next day a joy and delight.  I love waking up to a messy house and having to wash dishes to eat breakfast, said no one ever.  I’ve been forcing myself to put away the laundry on the bed, clean up the kitchen, set out my running clothes and go to bed early instead of staying up bleary eyed to watch Fallon when I can just see him the next day on Hulu.

It’s funny, but making one well planned, intentional habit has had a big impact on how my day goes and my attitude towards my kids and my work. It is not always easy to stick to the plan and sometimes I just don’t get anything done but the nights that I do, it’s incredibly rewarding!

The thing about this concept is that it applies to more than just my crazy life with littles. We all probably have an area of life that is frustrating or overwhelming. Work. Social obligations. Buying ethically. Choosing a non-profit to support. Turning a dream into a business or blog or whatever. I encourage you to take a few minutes or couple hours or a day and figure out one thing you can do consistently that will make what you are dealing with less overwhelming. Focus on one thing at a time and when you figure that out, move onto the next goal. It’s not rocket science, it’s not even a new concept really, it’s just a little trick we (meaning me!) easily forget.

How do you work on your goals and deal with overwhelming issues? What are your tips (or frustrations)?

Favorite Reads This Week

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Now that summer is here for real my mind is always outside.  From setting up sprinklers for my kids to cookouts to pool time to loving on my garden, I have hardly opened my laptop for the last week.  That’s a good thing, right?  So if things fall a little silent around here this summer, you know where I am!  On top of our outdoor shenanigans  I have all sorts of dreams and ideas I am working on for this blog….which I will share with you guys soon!  In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite things that I’ve read recently:

Naming And Framing // The Art of Simple – sometimes all we need to do to solve a problem is just look at it differently.

Ethical & Adorable Swimwear // Purse & Clutch - if you are looking for fairly made swimwear this is a great place to start!

On July, Chuck Taylors, Silence & Seasons // Shana Niequist - love this so much!

Enjoy your week, guys!

Grateful

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This week I have been engrossed in the first book I chose to read from my Summer Reading ListFactory Girls.  It’s written by an American-born Chinese journalist who spends several years in China building relationships with the girls who work in the factories and learning about migrant work.  She spends most of her time in Dongguan, the mecca of Chinese manufacturing, but also shares her family’s rich but devastating history as they too were migrants – from communist China to America.   It’s eye-opening, y’all.  Also serious but intriguing and so good. The contrasts of culture and livelihood of these factory girls versus my own life know no bounds.  It reminds me all over again that we are seriously so lucky, so privileged, to live the life that we do.  To have the freedoms and opportunities that we have.  It has made me grateful over and over and over.

Yesterday, this post struck a chord with me and reiterated everything I have been thinking about and reading.  Here’s a bit but you really need to read the post in it’s entirety:

By the simple, uncontrollable nature of my birth, I have been given enviable gifts: shelter, clothing, food, clean water… shoes. These are simple necessities that many human beings around the world will go without. I grew up in a safe, middle-class neighborhood with public schools and parks and rec departments. I did nothing to earn this opportunity—it was granted to me solely by the lottery of my birth.

The Responsibility of Opportunity // Becoming Minimalist

I want to always be grateful for where I am, for what I have.  Grateful for a home, for health, for dirty dishes and piles of laundry.  Always grateful.

But if I keep that gratefulness to myself, it’s no good.  This privileged life I live, it needs to mean something.  All this excess is just greediness if I don’t share it with others.  That is my constant challenge: to not just be grateful but use the good things in my life to help others – to fill in the empty places and encourage and give life.

What do you think?  Do you struggle with being grateful or does it come easily?

Friday Feature: Fair Trade Etsy Shops

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I have a thing for Etsy.  It’s totally my jam.  Sometimes when I’m rocking my son to sleep I browse the Etsy app I installed on my phone…and before I know it the babe has drifted off to sleep forever ago and I’m still scrolling!  We all know Etsy is famous for handmade goods but it can also be a sweet place to discover handmade goods that are fairly sourced too!  It’s a win all the way around.  Here are just a few ethical and fair trade Etsy shops I have discovered:

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Left to Right:

Kei & Molly // A printing studio creating beautiful textiles and prints and providing jobs for refugee women in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Cocoa & Honey // Handcrafted artisan chocolate and treats made with fair trade ingredients (like the spiced rum and coconut bar above! Seriously, Yum.).

Quill & Fox // Gorgeous and whimsical paper goods hand-designed in the USA and printed on recycled paper.

Source of Life Africa // Handmade fair trade goods from Uganda.

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Maelu Designs // Beautiful handmade scarves and head wraps made from ethically sourced traditional Indian fabric.

The Holistic Health Co. // Fair trade, gentle and sustainable body care products.

Freedom Knits Co. // 100% of proceeds from this yarn and scarf shop goes to help those coming out of trafficking!

Mathilde And Co. // A small handmade business working with women’s cooperatives in South Africa.

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Heshima Kenya // Scarves made by refugee women in Kenya – 100% of proceeds are reinvested in the design collective in Africa.

Dek Doi // Children’s clothing ethically made in Thailand using beautiful traditional fabrics.

Siamese Dream Design // Fun and funky shoes handcrafted in Thailand under fair trade conditions.

A Fair Line // Handwoven textiles made by a fair trade collective in Guatemala.

So are you an Etsy lover, too?  Share your favorite shop  – fair trade or not!

 

 

Creating An Ethical Home

You guys, I’m so excited to introduce my friend Hannah to you today!  She’s the voice behind Lifestyle:Justice and her heart for social justice and ethical living is pretty amazing.  Hannah and her husband are committed to sourcing everything for their little apartment from fair and ethical sources – it’s a cute little collection of thrifted finds and fair trade goods and today we are getting a peek inside!  Here we go….

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I have to admit, when Jessica first asked me to share a little bit about my journey towards building an ethical home, I balked… my mind started thinking: but my home isn’t PERFECT, yet. It’s still in the in-between stages! I guess something inside of me kind of wanted to wait to share my home with the internet world until it had somehow become the fair trade version of Design Sponge and Young House Love and Anthropologie all rolled into one. It’s a Pinterest world out there, folks, and it’s hard to live against-the-grain and give up the desire to “keep up with the Joneses” through consumerism!

When Andrew and I got married a year ago, we took stock of our collective possessions: One rickety, hand-me-down (and down… and down…) table. One ancient, college-days rug. An assortment of mismatched dishes and silverware. A couple of bookshelves (and way too many books), etc.  We laughed because we knew we were pretty much starting from scratch in filling our home with “grown-up” furniture and décor.

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Building an ethical home involves saying NO to a lot of instant gratification. I know that I could go to IKEA and furnish my entire living room with cute, cheap furniture and décor of unknown origins…. and that it would cost HALF of what just one beautiful, fair trade, handmade rug would cost me. But I choose to save up for that rug, because I want my home to someday be a beautifully curated space full of treasured possessions, not cheap throw-away goods.

Since we’ve gotten settled into our first little apartment, we are slowly and thoughtfully beginning the process of replacing some of the old, poor quality items in our home with better quality, ethically produced pieces or things we’ve made ourselves!

Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:

Thrift

If you’re like Andrew and I, you’re on a pretty strict budget. What are you going to do when you can’t purchase cheap furniture at IKEA OR afford really high-quality ethically made furniture? Thrift! One of the benefits of thrifting old furniture is that it’s quite often made better and will last longer than the mass-produced pieces that are churned out nowadays. Andrew and I found our couch ( a stoic, sturdy old antique with a gorgeous tufted back) for $85 in the back of a thrift store, covered in cat hair. We purchased some ethically made upholstery fabric from Company C (they have AMAZING Goodweave certified rugs, too!) and are currently saving up to have it upholstered at a local shop (we attempted it ourselves, at first, which turned out to be a bit beyond our skill range). I’m so excited to sit on the finished product, knowing that it’s a piece we’ll treasure for years to come! Most of the décor in our home is from thrift or vintage shops- we’ve amassed an eclectic little collection of old glassware, globes, books, records, maps, and more.

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Do Your Research

Just because Target isn’t a fair trade store doesn’t mean that you can’t shop ethically for a few select items there- and this goes for all “normal” stores! All of our glassware, measuring cups, casserole pans and storage containers are made in the USA by Anchor, a company that provides hundreds of jobs here in the states. We also love Lodge cast iron cookware, made in the USA and available at Target (or even your local hardware store!). Check labels. Use caution, though, and do research on the companies you find- sometimes “made in the USA” really means “all the parts of this product were manufactured unethically in factories and sweatshops and then assembled in the USA”. Similarly, if the price seems too-good-to-be true for a hand-embroidered cushion or woven basket, it just might be.

Make (or re-make)

Of course, this isn’t an option for every item in your home- but it’s often quite easy and cheap to throw together a DIY headboard or shelving unit. Our big project for this summer is going to be building a bigger, sturdier table to replace the one we currently have. My husband is a builder and a welder, so I’m lucky- however, there are tons of great resources and DIY tutorials out there to teach you how to make things for your home. I love Ana White’s DIY furniture site and the DIY section of the Apartment Therapy blog.
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Buy Ethically

This is my favorite part of furnishing my home… I just love items that are beautiful, useful, and contributing toward a better life for families around the world! Some places I love to shop are: Serrv, Greenheart Shop, Connected Goods, Imagine Goods and The Little Market. You’d be surprised at the wide variety of home goods that you can find when you search- check out my Pinterest boards for some of my best finds!

Be Thankful

The truth is, I don’t really need anything. I don’t need a dining room table. I don’t need a bed frame. People all around the world live without the things that I think are necessities. Having an attitude of thankfulness and looking at the items in my home as privileges helps me to cultivate a spirit of joy and contentedness!

You can find Hannah at Lifestyle:Justice where she blogs about fair and ethical living.  You can also find her on Instagram and Pinterest and of course, Facebook and Twitter!

Do you incorporate ethical purchases into your home?  What are some of your favorite finds?