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Ideas for an Eco-Friendly Fall

Sunday, October 22, 2017
Fall is finally here in Northern Virginia! I am looking forward to family gatherings and warm, cozy nights in when we can (finally) break out the hot cocoa. I also love how Fall can make us itch with a need for change leading to closet swaps for warmer clothing and maybe an autumnal version of spring cleaning around the house. Arhaus, a home furnishings company committed to quality and sustainability, recently shared some of my thoughts on an infographic to make the home a more mindful one this season (see below). This year Arhaus has partnered with American Forests for the One Purchase, One Tree program with a mission to plant trees and promote greener living. I was intrigued, especially by their products, like dining room furniture sets that are made with refurbished copper and harvested tree roots to help protect the environment. We don't get as many "green" visuals in the Fall as we do during Spring, but we can certainly turn our thoughts toward our environment by making our homes more eco-friendly doing things you already do.

Open up the windows
While growing up I learned from my mom that simply opening a window was like a magic spell. She often opens a window or two to let the sun and a breeze into our home to freshen things up. Take advantage of the transitioning weather that is the charm of Fall by welcoming in some fresh air and possibly offset some of your energy costs with natural elements.

Celebrate Green!
The holidays are coming. From Halloween to Christmas, the season is upon us which means parties and dress up and food - oh my. Spend less green while going green this year with DIY and local alternatives for holiday entertainment. Create costumes from clothing that could have a second life, upcycle something you would normally throw away to make seasonal crafts, or serve up your favorite recipes made using local produce. You'll be having a good time AND helping the environment.

Commit to reducing paper waste
Speaking of the holidays, things are about to get a little frenzied as we move through the last few months of the year. Keeping track of all the get togethers can require a lot of mind work, and paper. Consider managing your footprint by consciously choosing electronic options for things like your calendar, bills, and travel tickets. You've heard the phrase, "There's an app for that," so finding options that work for your needs shouldn't be too difficult.

Bring nature to you
Brighten the indoors with plants or décor made from natural materials. Houseplants especially are known to improve mood and air quality, keep temperatures low, increase humidity, and a slew of other benefits. Start small with an herb garden in the kitchen or by keeping succulents around the house which require little effort yet still provide the perks. If you're going for the real deal, spider plants, ivy, and palms are also low-maintenance with much more of the show.

If you're thinking of jumping all in to more environmentally-friendly living get more ideas that you can use all year round from Arhaus and American Forest below:

Ways To Make Your Home More Environmentally Friendly

Places To Take A Brand New Baby In Halloween Costume

Monday, October 9, 2017
You did it! You found the PERFECT Halloween costume for your new baby. Bonus points if you've made an entire family costume out of it. You're totally mom winning right now and you can hardly wait to strut your festive stuff. Except now you're wondering where exactly you should be going with a baby who can't even say "trick or treat," let alone knock on any doors on her own.

My Bunny, who surprised us with red hair, has an adorable baby version of Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl from Toy Story 2 as her first Halloween costume. My dad picked it out on a trip to California shortly after she was born. I've been very excited to see her all dressed up. Holidays and dressing up are two of my favorite things. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there isn't really anywhere to take her that she would care about. She's not moving or eating yet, and I'm not quite ready to go door to door with a little one who doesn't get it. Instead I came up with some places that give us a chance to take Bunny out in costume which are more her pace.

Drop in on a community Halloween party
As these are already family-focused they're a perfect place for the whole crew to enjoy some Halloween festivities. My church does an annual Halloween party that starts with a Trunk or Treat (trick or treating out of our cars) and ends with a chili cook-off for dinner. Inside there are games for the kids, a haunted "hallway," and tons of downtime for catching up with friends. Everyone is welcome. Check your local calendars for some events that you can stop by to show off your little one's ensemble, and maybe make some new friends.

Trick or treating at the mall
When I was a kid I dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz with my brother as the Scarecrow. I had just seen the Wizard of Oz on Ice. We met my grandparents, who had come as the Wicked Witch of the West and another scarecrow, at a mall to walk around and collect candy from the participating stores. It was low key but super fun! Our local shopping center is putting on Mall-O-Ween the weekend before Halloween with more than simply candy. Even better is that it will be a daytime event so no bedtime schedule conflicts - woo!

Go watch the town parade
Small towns were made for parades and our county seat, Leesburg, VA, has had a Halloween parade for over 60 years hosted by the local Kiwanis Club. The town also hosts a bunch of other Halloween-themed activities throughout the month such as haunting tours, but I'll stick to the parade. Does your local town or city have something similar? Find out when it's going down and take your little ghoul see the sights.

Head to the pumpkin patch
Inevitably you'll be taking your little one to the pumpkin patch or apple picking no matter what age she is, right? I say go in costume! Pictures from the day will be much cuter and cherished for years to come.

This list requires a little bit of digging and Googling. But if you are a friend of ETLT, you probably already knew that. In the end, though, all the spoils go to you. High-five, mom and dad, for a fun and festive (and happy) Halloween!

Ideas for Getting Rid of Old Clothes

Friday, July 7, 2017
Too many clothes and nothing to wear is a common part of the human experience. Even my husband has things he basically never wears, only to open the closet door to a nightmare of unworn clothes taking up space. It comes from a dangerous cycle of garment overloading where we buy for a certain occasion never to see that item again. If we are lucky we’re able to carve out some time to purge our wardrobe of the undesirable and useless items that are piling up. Cleaning out our closets helps us to lighten the clutter and gain perspective on the style, value, quality, and purpose of our clothing choices. We may even feel like a whole new person!

While home with Bunny I ransacked my closet. I was sick of the mess. Unfortunately, as cleansing as it was to take items out of the closet, the snoozing monster has been piled in the corner of my bedroom for months now. The obvious answer is to donate, which I considered until my little hippie brain got to thinking that a lot of resources - money, time, energy, textiles - were spent on these clothes that needed to be recouped, if only in some small way. As usual I took to the internet, researching options on what to do with old clothes that could help me regain some of the expenses and possibly do more than sit in the local thrift shop (which is TOTALLY worthy too). I learned a lot, tried a bit, and this is what I recommend.

Trade in items for cash

Taking my clothes to Plato’s Closet has been done before so I was somewhat confident in the process. Sadly I didn’t get what I was hoping for. Stores like Plato’s Closet are usually looking for specific items and are picky about the condition and labels. If you don’t know what it is they want you are left with a little bit of a headache after lugging your giant trash bag(s) to and from the store for nothing. Still, the stores are generally local and they will give you straight up cash if you want so it’s not all bad.

Pros: local, cash option, great for name brands that are in good condition
Cons: not a drop and go, definitely undervalue the clothing, picky selection process

Start an Instagram shop

I tried this next, which was a disaster. Instagram by itself is overwhelming and I still can’t figure out why I thought this was a good idea. My Insta-game is lame. Starting an entirely new account then marketing for said account while also doing all the other things on my list was impossible. I didn’t have time to advertise or put up pictures of new clothes, and this was before someone wanted to buy and I had to figure out payment and shipping. The front end was exhausting. There are plenty of successful Instagram shops out there with great followings and consistently trendy items, and more power to them, but this was just unrealistic for me.

Pros: can do it from home, money goes straight to you, work on your Insta-game
Cons: you do all the work, your clothes are still sitting around, really only works for niche fashion that I could tell

Recycle for discounts at your favorite stores

This is by far the simplest option and maybe has the best return for the work. Like donating, you can drop your clothes off at retail stores. The difference is the discounts in return. H&M has a sustainable fashion initiative that allows customers to bring in clothes from any brand in any condition and get a 15% discount coupon. And there’s no limit to how many times you can go in! Click here for a list of other retailers who may also be going green.

Pros: SO easy, no real limit to how many times you can do it, relatively good rewards, clothes get used
Cons: the result is not cash, you have to bring your crap through the mall or mail it somewhere which might be a little weird and/or counterproductive

Invite your community to shop your closet

I’ve never done this because my clothing labels are nothing special but I do know a fellow blogger in my area who does. My friend Tonya Michelle of her namesake blog is all about fashion, beauty, and DIY. She works with boutiques and labels from all over and she gets TONS of clothes which she doesn’t always keep. Every now and then she puts the word out on Facebook that she is downsizing and invites local ladies for a night to come shop her closet (literally). I love this because she gets to meet new people while cleaning. Wouldn’t we all like to make cleaning more fun?

Pros: great for those items you only wore once, make new friends, gets it all done at one time and place, buyers come to you
Cons: you have to clean your house haha, limited inventory with an even more limited guest list


I deliberately chose not to look into programs like Poshmark or ThreadUp for a few reasons. First, my clothes are not name brands and are generally out of season. Second, I didn’t really want to share the return I got in processing or other fees. And third, I appreciate the greener options like recycling fabrics. Did you know denim can be used for insulation? I’m sure those are great ways to get rid of old clothes, but again, that system wouldn’t work for me. Anyways I’m headed to the mall these weekend to unload my old stuff and I can’t wait to be free. I hope you find the perfect way to declutter your closet too!

Tools For Easier (& More Fun) Daily Scripture Study

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Hands up if in January you promised to read your scriptures more this year. Yeah, me too... I’m learning that making a new habit isn’t so easy as just saying it. Life does get away from us and simply sitting and opening your Bible, Book of Mormon, etc. can get boring/overwhelming/tedious REAL fast.

Growing up we got all kinds of creative access to scripture stories. We met the characters in cartoons and songs, associated the lessons with snacks or games. Knowing those stories is something we can directly trace back to childhood. We should be proud that at one time we were nearest to God. Instead of becoming like little children, we *were* those little children!

Fast forward to being an adult. I can barely remember to brush my teeth in the morning or feed myself lunch. Taking a quiet moment to improve our relationship with God is more of a to do list item than an actual part of our daily lives. We set our goals but we have to go outside the box to meet said goals and overcome the potential snooze fest of traditional scripture study. Thankfully there are plenty of tools out there to help. These are my picks, mainly geared towards Mormon doctrine and resources. But no matter your faith I encourage you to find similar ways to make scripture study a more unique and fulfilling part of your day.

**This post contains NO affiliate links. All writing and opinions are mine and exist only because I want to share cool stuff with you.**

Audiobooks

While in school Spencer and I were taking a class focused on studying the Book of Mormon. A semester-long project required us to put together a plan for reading daily. We knew just reading through wouldn’t be too fun so we decided to listen via audiobook. We would sit down together every night and hit play while we worked on other things. It was really smart for allowing us to multi-task. We’ve done this a few more times since for many reasons. May I add it’s perfect for talks too! You can download the scriptures on audiobook here, or access text-to-speech via the Gospel Library mobile app (see below).

Illustrated Books

I had an illustrated Bible growing up. The images I have today of those stories are from that book. Naturally I wanted something similar for learning scriptures when Spencer and I were asked to teach the 4-year-old Sunday School class. We now own all four of the illustrated scriptures. The write ups are simple, you can get the basics quickly. Plus you can visualize things. Someday I’ll own the coloring books too haha.

Purchase

Social Media

I’m kind of obsessed with social media. I spend hours refreshing Facebook and liking posts (which I might be doing while writing this). Twitter is even more enjoyable. But there is a whole lot of nonsense out there. To get a break from all the noise, I follow and like scripture- and gospel-related accounts such as Book of Mormon Central which has some insightful information on Book of Mormon and LDS church history. You learn so much! And my friend works there, so I feel cool.

Now while I generally stick to Facebook and Twitter, another great account is 3 Mormons on YouTube. I just found them and their discussions are insightful as well as addicting and fun. I’ve left Instagram of this list because I’m not a huge fan and because I don’t know of any interesting Mormon- or Christian-based accounts. If you know of any to check out send them my way! And don’t forget you can follow the LDS Church and its leadership on pretty much every platform. *thumbs up*

My fave social accounts:
Twitter LDS Quotes
Facebook Book of Mormon Central
YouTube 3 Mormons

Apps

I have an LDS Scripture-A-Day widget on my phone's home screen. Some days that’s all the reading I do, but at least I'm getting something. Also the LDS mobile apps are a must have with everything from scriptures to Conference talks to Sunday School materials. There are even videos and music! Apps are by far the best for accessibility and keeping your back from going out while still having all that stuff with you. Log in and you can keep track of bookmarks, annotations, and notes!

Download the LDS Mobile Apps

Book of Mormon Central also has an app (AWESOME). KnoWhy on Google Play // in the App Store


I wrote this post because I realized fifteen years have gone by since my baptism as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I still don’t know my Book of Mormon stories. Since making the commitment to get more gospel in my day I’ve sincerely tried to find ways to make this easier and more realistic. We are so lucky to have unlimited, quick access to the scriptures in unique ways. Definitely go find out which one of these works for you. Then come tell me what you try or find!

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