Ethical Fashion Gift Guide on Just Jess

This week I wrote an ethical fashion gift guide guest post for my friend Jessica’s “12 Days of Gift Guides” on her blog, Just Jess! If you’ve still got some holiday shopping to do, go check it out. There are suggestions for UNC fans, Carolina Panthers fans, yogis, fashionistas, and above all, folks who care that the things they wear are doing good in the world.

Angela Roi vegan leather cross-body bag on the Just Jess Ethical Fashion Gift Guide | Trés Belle

And if y’all want to buy a thing or two off the list for me, I won’t complain! (wink!)

xoxo Laura

Small Joys: Volume 2

<a href=”https://www.bloglovin.com/blog/17514559/?claim=asg5zccwgsz”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Small Joys | Trés Belle

1. Our thankfulness board. In the month of November, Wes and I wrote down something each day that we were thankful for on the large chalkboard in our kitchen. Looking at it each day made me realize just how much I have to be joyful about. Gratitude turns even the smallest things into more than enough.

2. A painted fence! We had been debating painting our fence for quite some time, and our decision was solidified when we had a gate installed and the wood turned out to be a veryyyy different color from the rest of the fence! We finally bit the bullet over Thanksgiving weekend. My amazing family pitched in to help for two full days of painting (they’re the best!). I had NO idea how much work would be involved and how sore I would be the next day! Walking was a challenge. But now our fence is oh-so-beautiful! Check out the before and after:

White Fence Before and After | Trés Belle

3. Tazza Kitchen‘s Brick Oven Brussels Sprouts. Holy shitakes, y’all. Hubs and I went to Tazza with some friends last week, and I was instantly excited when I saw that they had Brussels sprouts as an appetizer. I am a total Brussels freak. These did not disappoint…in fact, I think they might be the best Brussels I’ve ever had!

4. The Business with Purpose podcast. Molly Stillman, who hosts the podcast, is a local blogger with a heart of gold. I can’t get enough of her new podcast, which features entrepreneurs who are using their businesses to leave the world a better place. Episode 3 with Bethany Tran of The Root Collective is my absolute favorite so far. Go listen!

5. Our Christmas tree. Um, I’m a little obsessed. The lights just make me so happy! As soon as I get home each night, I put on pajamas and park myself in front of the tree.

Cozy Christmas living room | Trés Belle

6. On a related note: our Christmas ornaments. We are on Team Hodge Podge Tree. Our ornaments are all different colors and vary between fancy crystal and homemade paper cutouts from our preschool days. It is so much fun to pull each ornament out and be transported back to a particular moment in time. My all-time favorite ornament as a kid was a “pear tree” (aka a pear on a tree trunk) with a little partridge inside in his undies. I smile every time I see it. Another favorite on our tree this year is the ornament my sister gave Wes when his beloved childhood dog passed away earlier this year. The ornament is a spitting image of sweet Lola with her name printed underneath!

There are lots of other BIG things to be grateful for, especially this time of year, but I’ll leave it at these small snippets for now. Friends, what are the small things in your life that are giving you joy right now?

xoxo Laura

Inside Out Fair Trade Fashion Challenge Update: October

The Inside Out Ethical Fashion Challenge 2016 | Trés Belle

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done an update on my Inside Out fair trade fashion challenge, and I have a confession to make. I’ve bought some things that are not fair trade certified (!!!). Let me explain a bit more.

The first time that I bought something non-fair trade was an accident. I’ve written before on the blog about The Flourish Market, an ethical fashion truck in the Triangle area. I was initially under the impression that everything on the truck was fair trade certified, and was surprised when I discovered that this adorable blue and orange top from Grace & Lace that I had purchased was not, in fact, fair trade certified. Oops! While many of the products that The Flourish Market carries are indeed fair trade certified, others are ethically produced but do not necessarily carry an official stamp or label.

Floral Grace & Lace Top | Trés Belle

When I emailed Grace & Lace to inquire about their sourcing, they were quick to respond. Their products were originally all made in the USA, but due to quick growth of the company (probably because of an episode of Shark Tank!), they outsourced some of their manufacturing to Asia. Per the Grace & Lace representative who emailed me, “We continually have our team members visit each of our mills to ensure quality work environments.”

At this point, I felt torn about what to do. Should I discontinue shopping at The Flourish Market, withdrawing support from a locally-owned small business on a mission to sell ethically-produced fashion, in order to stick to my own strict rules for this challenge? My prayer from the beginning of the challenge was that it would result in a significant and enduring heart and behavior change for me rather than just following the rules for a short amount of time and then kicking them out the door as soon as the challenge was over. The more I thought and prayed about it, the more strongly I felt that developing habits that would stick and supporting a local business with the same ideals that I have for fashion were more important than being a hard-ass about the rules.

So, I’ve made an exception for The Flourish Market during these final few months of my fair trade fashion challenge. I’m still drawing a hard line when it comes to other non-local ethical fashion companies that aren’t certified fair trade, but I do see myself loosening up a bit after the challenge is officially over and purchasing from these companies given that a strict fair trade-certified approach is difficult to sustain.

I’ve purchased a couple of additional non-fair trade, ethically-produced clothing pieces from The Flourish Market and hope to have photos of them on the blog soon!

xoxo, Laura

Small Joys: Volume 1

Small Joys | Trés Belle

Lately, I’ve been realizing how important it is to find joy and gratitude in the normal, everyday-type days of our lives. You won’t have a joyful life if you sit around waiting for big, momentous occasions to be joyful. I always love reading the “Small Joys” posts by Cristina over at Grace Like Rain–they inspire me to think about those little, everyday joys that I often overlook in my own life. I am so excited that Cristina (whose engagement photos were featured on the blog awhile back, by the way!) is letting me take a page out of her own book by starting my own “Small Joys” posts. Welcome to volume 1! I hope that these posts will inspire you to find gratitude for the small things. Here are the little joys in my life as of late:

1. Turning my office into a spa on a cloudy day. It was dreary outside, so I decided to create a mood lift by burning a spa waters-scented candle and playing spa music on Pandora. It did the trick!

Small Joys: Volume 1 | Trés Belle

2. The WordPress app. Helping me blog on the go! Thankful that this option is available for busy bees like me.

3. Cozy fall blankets. With cold weather approaching, I wanted to make sure my living room, which is decorated in mostly cool colors, feels warm and inviting to people. I found this blanket on sale at my local Target and love the cozy touch it adds to our sofa!

Small Joys: Volume 1 | Trés Belle

4. Sermons like this that leave me feeling refreshed and convicted all at once.

5. This advice on how to start your day off right. Dying laughing over the way he pronounces “Clinique.”

6. Landscaping! I’m so excited that this project is now underway, especially since we’ve now owned our house for a year (whattttt??). Big shout out to my hubby for being the leader (er…sole worker?) on this endeavor! I’ll be sure to post “after” photos once we’re done.

Small Joys: Volume 1 | Trés Belle

7. This goofball. Rufus is probably going to be mentioned on every single Small Joys post, because he brings SO much joy to our lives. He has so much personality and always gets me laughing!

Small Joys: Volume 1 | Trés Belle

What are y’all finding joy in lately? Let me know in the comments!

xoxo Laura

Ethical Skin Care at Be Pure Beauty in Durham

Hi belles! Who else out there is somewhat of a beauty junkie? This post is for you!

Ethical Skin Care at Be Pure Beauty in Durham  |  Trés Belle

 

I’m not particularly “good” at hair and makeup, but I love trying new products. I’m like a kid in a candy store at Ulta. I’ve definitely heard and read some things about all of the nasty chemicals and hormone disrupters in beauty products, but I’ve never done much research and have made a half-hearted effort at best to seek out natural alternatives. So, I was super excited when I found out that the September meet-up for the Triangle Area Bloggers group (TriFABB) was being held at Be Pure Beauty in Durham!

Ethical Skin Care at Be Pure Beauty in Durham  |  Trés Belle

My friend Traci and I went together to the event and left feeling incredibly inspired. April, the owner of Be Pure Beauty, is someone you instantly want to be best friends with. She has a calming and soothing demeanor, and her passion for her store is contagious. After a personal experience with the detriments that sneaky beauty product ingredients can have on your health, April, who is an accomplished L.A. hair and makeup artist, developed a mission to help others access cleaner, safer products. Her store carries non-toxic, eco-friendly, USA-made natural beauty products.

Ethical Skin Care at Be Pure Beauty in Durham  |  Trés Belle

At the TriFABB meet-up, April had some educational activities planned to teach us about the nasty ingredients lurking in many common beauty formulas, and we also got to tour the store and try the products. The highlight of the evening for me was getting to be the model for a makeup tutorial!

Ethical Skin Care at Be Pure Beauty in Durham  |  Trés Belle

It was nice to feel and see the products in action and learn some secrets from a pro (for example, patting on eyeshadow rather than brushing it on!).

Ethical Skin Care at Be Pure Beauty in Durham  |  Trés Belle

I left with some natural deodorant and a clay mask to help with my blemishes and acne-prone skin. I hope to go back soon to purchase some makeup once I’ve used up the large supply I already have here at home!

Ethical Skin Care at Be Pure Beauty in Durham  |  Trés Belle

If you’re not local to the Triangle area, never fear: You can shop Be Pure Beauty online. Let me know if you find any new products that you love!

xoxo Laura

(All photos by the lovely Molly Stillman.)

P.S. – This is not a sponsored post. I just love sharing things I love with my belles!

Deal Alert: 71% Off Wedding Invitations and Save the Dates!

I’ve got a deal alert for my engaged belles! Groupon is currently running a deal for up to 71% off flat invitations from Staples. They’re advertising it as being for wedding invitations and save the dates, but really you could purchase invitations for any fancy shmancy event you have coming up!

71% Off Staples Wedding Invitations  |  Trés Belle

No one thinks that invitations will be a big cost for their wedding, but it can really add up, especially if you’re wanting to throw in inner/outer envelopes, calligraphy, reception cards, ribbons, etc.  Do yourself a favor and buy invites on sale!

 

xoxo Laura

P.S. – This is not a sponsored post. I just love sharing good deals with my belles!

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