Social Justice Sunday: #BlackLivesMatter

One of my biggest hopes for this blog is that it will encourage fellow Southern belles to feel okay about stepping outside the lines a little. The genteel Southern ladies of generations past might have refrained from discussions of politics and refused to look past “the way it’s always been,” but today’s belles should feel empowered to get involved in social change. It’s the 21st century, y’all, and ain’t that a nice thing?

Recent shootings of black Americans have hurt my heart and caused by blood to boil. Things really struck close to home this week with the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, NC. I think it’s incredibly important to stand up in the face of social injustice, so today I’m sharing some articles and posts related to the Black Lives Matter movement. Hope they encourage you to think, mourn for those who are hurting, and take action to ensure that all people are treated equally.

1. The Real Reason White People Say ‘All Lives Matter’

The Real Reason White People Say ‘All Lives Matter’ | Tres Belle

2. Been thinking about this graphic a lot.

3. This post on calling for peaceful protests. My hippie heart longs for peace too, y’all, but this is spot-on.

4. This Huffington Post article on how victims are treated as they die.

Disrespecting the Deaths of Black Individuals | Trés Belle

So much love to anyone affected by these tragedies. This belle won’t sit quietly by and watch it happen.

xoxo Laura

Two Year Anniversary Reflections

Wes and I recently celebrated our second wedding anniversary. My, how time flies! I wanted to post a couple of reflections about the past year as we celebrate this milestone (because even small milestones are important to celebrate!).

1. I’ve blogged before about how we are choosing a different piece of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 to be our “theme” Bible verse each year. We’re going in chronological order, so this past year was “love is kind.” Y’all, it sounds so easy and obvious, but it’s really not. I’ve heard others say before that marriage exposes just how selfish you can be, and it’s so true. It’s hard to be kind when you feel frustrated, irritated, or angry and so much easier to focus on your own emotions. But, I think kindness is absolutely critical in order for a marriage to succeed and should not be used sparingly. I incorporated kindness toward Wes into my 2016 PowerSheets and have seen the difference it has made over the past eight months.

2. Moving right along to year three’s theme: Love does not envy. Wes and I have been talking some about what this means and are trying to come up with practical ways to apply this to our relationship. Anyone have ideas for us? Please comment on this post or on insta!

3. On a long weekend getaway trip in May, we listened to The Five Love Languages together on our drive, and it was AWESOME. I had read the book many years ago, but it was much more powerful to read now that Wes and I have been together longer. It was also incredibly beneficial to be listening to it together. The audiobook prompts you to pause the CD to discuss questions together, and we were both surprised to find that it was not just educational, but also really fun! The book has definitely changed our relationship for the better. Many thanks to Wes’s step-brother and step-sis-in-law for gifting it to us when we got married!

4. We’ve found this to be true in our relationship and do it several times a week.

5. I actually really enjoy finding a way to gift Wes the traditional wedding anniversary gifts by year (this is likely because one of my love languages is gifts…see #3 above). Second anniversary gifts are traditionally cotton, and this year Wes decided to join in on the fun by finding something cotton to gift me, which turned out to be money to go buy fair trade clothes. Can every year be cotton??

6. We also celebrated this year with gluten-free cake and our tradition of watching our wedding video together. Having this tradition to look forward to is so much fun. It was also really crazy to reflect on how much has changed for our families and friends since our wedding. Our video shows couples who are no longer together, people who are now celebrating weddings of their own, and relatives who are no longer living. It’s also so obvious when watching the video how much Wes and I have grown as a couple. It’s hard to describe the overall feeling that watching our video gave me…perhaps reverence for the passage of time and a sense of awe at the way life’s events weave together in small and big ways to shape us? I’m so thankful for the past two years and can’t wait to see what the next will bring.

Wedding cooler with wedding vows | Trés Belle

Love you today and every day, Westwood! Happy anni!

xoxo, Laura

Leaning into Fall

Stop the music and halt everything you’re doing! I know, this is a shocking revelation. Y’all know how I typically feel about fall. But something is different this year. I’m leaning into it…maybe almost…liking it? You may want to screenshot this post and send me the photo when I start complaining about fall next week.

But seriously, I’m ready for a change in season. Summer was awesome. I love the hot weather, the pool time, the 9:30 sunsets, all the fun outings. We traveled just about every weekend, seeing friends and family and celebrating others. Loved loved loved all of it. But, honestly? I’m a little exhausted.

Leaning into Fall | Trés Belle

I’m craving the slower pace of fall. I know for families with children, back-to-school time may hardly seem restful, but for our little family of three (that’s me, hubs, and the pup, for those who were confused), fall brings stillness. Peacefulness. Fewer vacations, weddings, birthdays, and parties. I love all of those things, but they have had their season, and now I’m wanting something a little different.

I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I am actually looking forward to fall. I can’t wait to curl up inside on a Friday night and watch a movie. I can’t wait to relax while roasting marshmallows by our fire pit. I’m finally ready to snuggle up to you, fall. Look out!

xoxo Laura

Inside Out Challenge Update: My Ethically Made Handbag by Angela Roi

Well, I’ve technically broken my commitment to exclusively buy fair trade clothing/accessories this year. However, it was not a decision that I took lightly…in fact, I debated buying this Angela Roi Sunday Tote II handbag for six months before I actually bought it!

But first, can we take a minute to admire its loveliness? Okay, thanks.🙂

Ethically Made Handbag by Angela Roi  |  Trés Belle

So. Fair trade handbags are difficult but not impossible to come by. The ones I looked at were either a satchel design in lightweight cloth that I knew would be destroyed within a week or leather, which I felt reluctant to buy due to my wannabe vegan tendencies. I really wanted to buy a non-leather bag if at all possible.

I had stumbled across Angela Roi bags before I started my fair trade fashion challenge and had fallen in love. They aren’t certified fair trade, but they are sweatshop-free (and vegan!). I agonized over whether this purchase would count as cheating on my fair trade fashion challenge, but ultimately decided to move forward since my purchase was still values-centric and because I couldn’t find a comparable bag that was certified fair trade.

Ethically Made Handbag by Angela Roi  |  Trés Belle

Bag pictured above with my fair trade jumper by my favey fave, Threads4Thought.

I’m not going to lie: This is the most expensive handbag I’ve ever purchased, and that’s even using the handy dandy $20 off coupon code I got for signing up for emails. Thankfully, I can say that I have been 100% satisfied with the money I spent. The craftsmanship and materials are high quality, and the size is perfect for someone like me who carries their entire life with them wherever they go. The neutral color lends itself to any outfit/season, making it incredibly versatile. Because it was an investment, I’ve been far more motivated to take care of it rather than throwing it around like with previous handbags. I think it will last a long time.

What do you think, belles? Love it or hate it? Anyone else out there running into problems finding certain fair trade accessories or clothing pieces?

xoxo Laura

Inside Out Challenge: “True Cost” Fashion Documentary

Last week, my good friend Traci and I went to a screening of the documentary True Cost, hosted by Redress Raleigh. We had heard that it was about the ethical, humanitarian, and environmental problems associated with the modern fashion industry and figured it was a perfect movie to watch as we continue in our Inside Out fair trade fashion/beauty product challenge.

It’s hard for me to find adequate adjectives to describe this documentary. Moving, convicting, fascinating, and heartbreaking all come to mind. I stared in shock at images of waste water from leather factories and blinked back tears as I listened to a young woman in Bangladesh describe her working conditions and the consequences her job has had on her family. As someone who has done some research on the fast fashion industry, I was not shocked at some of the statistics, but was pleasantly surprised to find myself learning new information throughout the movie. I highly recommend this film to anyone, regardless of age, gender, or level of interest in fair trade/ethical/eco-conscious/insert-your-favorite-buzzword-here fashion. It’s incredibly interesting.

Anddddd…great news! True Cost is currently on Netflix! So add it to your queue and get watching, friends. You can also rent or buy it on Amazon, iTunes, or the True Cost website.

And in the meantime, check out the trailer:

xoxo Laura

The Frizzy Hair Manifesto

We like big hair here in the South. Much to my chagrin, however, I have not yet seen big, frizzy hair become fashionable. So where does that leave frizzy-haired ladies like me? The lengths we will go to at times to obtain that illusive shiny sleekness is pure. T. cuh-razy. And you know what? I’m done with it. Tired of wasting precious time and money chasing after something that it appears I will never have. So, as the humidity creeps on up into the 90th percentile range this summer (all my frizzy haired friends can feel me on this one; we know EXACTLY where to look on Weather.com to find the hourly humidity), I propose a shift in attitude. Let’s stop all the fuss and worry and not give a hoot about our hair, even for one day this summer. Here’s our manifesto:

The Frizzy Hair Manifesto: Embrace Your Frizz This Summer! | Très Belle

  1. I will stop buying so many useless products. I just counted, and I have 45 bottles of various hair products under my bathroom sink. 45. Most of them I bought in the hopes that they would solve all of my hair woes, only to use them a few times and discover that they are just the same as any other product. They may help a bit, but they don’t magically get rid of the frizz. We have got to end this madness. It can be a huge money drain if you allow yourself to continue to buy and try, only to discard the product a week later. Instead of selling out to the marketers who make beautiful labels and say things we can’t resist (90% less frizz! Blocks humidity! Silk-ify your hair!), let’s pause a moment before tossing the latest-and-greatest into our shopping carts. I’m not saying don’t ever buy another product, but do your research before handing over your credit card. Read online reviews. Borrow from friends. Ask to try the product at the salon. Buy a smaller version before snapping up three bulk packages at Sam’s Club. You’re not doing yourself any favors by throwing your money down the drain on products that are mostly all the same.
  2. I will not let fear of frizz stop me from enjoying myself. Fear of frizz can be truly unhealthy and paralyzing. Instead of spending dinner at a beachfront restaurant worrying that the salty air is ruining the sleek look that took us one hour, four separate smoothing products, two heat tools, and a can of hairspray to create, let’s actually enjoy the view, the food, and the company. The time that you spend agonizing over your hair is time that could be spent actually enjoying yourself. And anyway, folks who are confident look far more beautiful than someone who is self-conscious and constantly adjusting her appearance.
  3. I will not drive to work/school/PTA meetings with a towel draped over my head. All you frizz-free people are scratching your heads. A towel over our heads? Oh yes. Raise your hand if you’ve done it. That towel is a humidity barrier, keeping your hairdo frizz-free until you arrive at your destination and whisk it off, stuffing it under your seat. If you are going to these kinds of lengths (whether it’s a towel or some other crayzay stunt), you are wayyyy overthinking things. There are more important things in life than frizz-free hair!  Stop the dramatics and just drive.
  4. I will discourage hair hating. We’re all in this together, folks.Don’t make nasty comments about others people’s hair. When others complain about their own hair “problems,” whether it’s frizz or something else, try to resist the urge to join in. Tell your friend they are beautiful with their hair just as it is. When we make negative hair comments, we are putting down ourselves and others and may be unknowingly creating hurt feelings and self-doubts. Frizzy-haired ladies would likely feel a lot more confident if we didn’t hear frizz being talked about negatively all the time!
  5. I will embrace my frizz! Do it. Wear your frizzy hair out on the town and don’t care. Love your hair just the way it is. Biscuits will not burn and friends will not hate you. Whether you do it every day or just once, it’s incredibly freeing to know that you CAN!

Who’s with me, ladies? Let’s let that frizz fly! #frizzyhairdontcare

xoxo Laura

Book Review: “I Know How She Does It” by Laura Vanderkam

This is a first for me! I’ve never posted a book review before, but I absolutely love getting book recommendations from my own favorite bloggers. Hopefully these posts will help you find books you do (or do not) want to read and/or listen to! (Side note: I am a huge audio book person. If you ever hear me say that I “read” a book, it is much more likely that I actually listened to a book while driving. Checking out books for free on OverDrive through the library is the bee’s knees).

I recently read (aka listened to) Laura Vanderkam’s I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time. This book caught my eye because I am absolutely one of those people who feels like they never have enough time to do everything they’d like. Southern belles of generations past may have lived a life of luxury by leaving the workforce post-marriage and having hired help to tend to the house, but today’s Southern belles are doing it all: employment, parenting, romantic relationships, active social lives, housekeeping, and more. Always more.

Book Review: "I Know How She Does It" by Laura Vanderkam | Très Belle

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. I’ll start with the positives. There was some good content in this book, and I definitely learned new things about finding time to do everything I want to do. I was particularly intrigued by Vanderkam’s proposition that it is the attitude we have towards time that determines how much or little of it we perceive ourselves as having. I am actively working to shift my own mindset about time, and it is already proving to be a game changer for me.

Now for the negatives. The flow of the book felt scattered. One minute the author was talking about one thing, then there was a large leap to another unrelated topic. I got a little lost sometimes on where her train of thought was going. I also felt that the book had an elitist attitude at times. A woman’s level of “success” and perceived “workload” was measured by higher paying, six figure jobs. There are lots of us out here making much less than that who are also putting in long hours and gaining great fulfillment and satisfaction from our work, yet struggling to find work-life balance. There are lots of us out here who are not parents but struggle to find the time we crave for our hobbies. I think someone could easily walk away from this book feeling inadequate, hearing about how others who seemingly have more responsibilities manage to “do it all.” I had to check myself so as not to fall into this mindset while reading the book.

Overall, I think you will find helpful information in this book if you are a someone who constantly feels too busy. If you are a full-time working mother, you will especially benefit.

Let me know if you read it and what you think!

xoxo Laura

Prayer Coloring (for Stress Relief & Spiritual Growth)

Adult coloring has become all the rage lately, and there are psychological theories and research to support it as a relaxation technique. One of my mom’s cousins gave me a mandala coloring book last year, and I’ve enjoyed dabbling with it ever since. However, I’ve put a new spiritual spin on it lately!

I was recently working through the Art of Adventure Journal, which challenged me to think up creative new ways to “hang out” with God, so to speak. I am not naturally good at slowing down and doing things like meditation, prayer, and other quiet activities, but I have been learning recently how life-giving and restorative such practices are when I force myself to do them. As I was brainstorming ways to spend time with God, my coloring book caught my eye, and a light bulb popped up over my head. What if I used my coloring time as an opportunity to sit down and connect with God?

Prayer/Worship/Meditation Coloring for Stress Relief and Spiritual Growth | Très Belle

I’ve started doing it every now and then, and I love it. The coloring activity itself is relaxing and not so taxing on my mental space that I can’t tap into my spiritual self. I will often pray, meditate, sing a worship song (you can tell which one I was singing while coloring the mandala above!), or simply sit in silence and listen to God while I color.

I’ve even found some scripture coloring sheets if you want to focus on a particular Bible verse in your coloring/meditation practice. I’ve started a collection for easy reference on my health/wellness Pinterest board…be sure to check them out!

xoxo Laura

P.S. – Because I know there are other office supply fanatics out there like me who want to know these types of things, the markers I am currently using are the Crayola Pip-Squeaks. They are much thinner than typical markers, but you may still have a tough time getting into really small spaces. I love my Paper Mate Flairs for everyday writing, and they do well in tight spaces, but the color is quite saturated, and I’ve found that it will often bleed through on coloring sheets. Please share your favorite coloring markers in the comments!

Fair Trade Tennis Shoe Crushing

As you all know by now, I am doing a fair trade fashion challenge this year that involves exclusively purchasing fair trade clothing, jewelry, and accessories. I am in need of a new pair of tennis shoes (mine are sporting more than one hole at this point), and was hoping to find a nice fair trade pair to purchase. Ha! I did find some, but they are made in France, and the cost/logistics of shipping them here to the U.S. are a little too daunting for me. But before we get into all of that, join me in crushing on these sneakers by Veja:

Veja Holiday Low Top Black Oxford Grey | Très Belle

 

Veja Holiday Low Top Groseille Nautico Rose Fluo Fair Trade Sneakers | Très Belle

If you’ve ever shopped fair trade, you probably know that the number of actually fashionable fashion options out there can be slim. I was impressed by the design of these sneakers! They are actually something I would want to wear.

Veja Holiday Low Top Suede B-Mesh White Pierre Fair Trade Sneakers | Très Belle

The price of the sneakers themselves isn’t at all bad: 109€, or $123. However, international shipping is where things get tricky. Veja offers free international shipping on orders over 150€, but unfortunately, only two pairs of  women’s sneakers on the entire website meet that minimum (and neither pair is one I am interested in). So, I would be facing a shipping charge of 25€, or $28. Yikes! Perhaps more daunting to me is the difficulty of returns should the shoe not fit. I would be responsible for paying international shipping AGAIN to send the shoes back over the pond for a return or exchange. This isn’t practical, cost-effective, or wise in my opinion.

Anyone know of other fair trade sneaker brands? Please send them my way! Otherwise, I will be waiting until after my year is up to look into other ethical options or begrudgingly schlep myself to the nearest Dick’s Sporting Goods for a shopping spree.

xoxo Laura

Ethically-Sourced Scrubs

Where all my do-good nurse friends at?? Finding specialty clothing items that are ethically sourced is incredibly difficult, so I was beyond excited when I recently stumbled across Catalyst Scrubs! The brand was started last year by a speech pathologist who saw a niche in the market for ethically-sourced scrubs. Catalyst’s scrubs are made by women in impoverished countries who are given fair wages and other incentives, such as free medical care, free child care, and free business courses.

Ethically-sourced scrubs from Catalyst Scrubs  |  Très Belle

The scrubs are reasonably priced: $29 each for tops and pants. Considering most healthcare professionals only need a few sets of scrubs to rotate through each week, this means you can get your entire work wardrobe for under $200, all while supporting fair wages and economic empowerment.

Ethically-sourced scrubs from Catalyst Scrubs  |  Très Belle

Y’all let me know if you end up buying the scrubs! Would love to hear if you like them.

xoxo Laura

P.S. – this is not a sponsored post. I just like sharing ethical brands with y’all!