Tips for Holiday Shopping This Year

You can count me in the group of people who started decorating for and celebrating Christmas extra early this year. My desktop tree went up in my office the first week of November, and my husband and I started decking our halls that first weekend. We're excited to go pick out a Christmas tree this weekend and really have the house looking festive.

 


With the past few months feeling extra heavy, November has turned out to be a good month full of holiday cheer. I'm not ashamed in how much Christmas music I've listened to and how many Christmas movies we've watched so far. We've taken our Christmas card photos and they've already been printed and delivered (thank you, Paper Culture). Excited to mail them out next week!


Beyond the decorating, I've started my Christmas shopping earlier than usual this year, and it's been nice to feel a little ahead of the game! Although I've made a few online purchases so far, my goal for the majority of our gifts for family and friends is to shop small and local businesses.


The annual Small Business Saturday, happening this Saturday, November 28, is an extra important reminder to support your favorite locally owned small businesses and online small business vendors. Especially after all the challenges this year, so many entrepreneurs and business owners are struggling to remain open, and the Christmas shopping season may well be a deciding factor on some being able to stay open.


Take advantage of extra shopping options that many businesses are offering, like delivery or curbside pickup. This is one thing I actually wouldn't mind if businesses kept permanently! Before going to shop in person, check a business' website or Facebook page, or give them a call to see if their store hours are different than normal. And of course, when shopping in person, please wear your mask and respect social distance.

 

 

 

 

Ariana had a fun time checking out a few local business storefronts recently, even running toward the wine shop. Hint: This year is an excellent year to gift bottles of wine to family and friends! (And surprisingly, I do not have a countdown going yet to drinking my first glass of wine since June!)


If you choose to shop a small online business, check order deadlines to ensure delivery by Christmas, especially if you are looking at something personalized or customized. Shipping delays have been a little extra crazy lately, so definitely reach out to a shop's owner or customer service department if you have any questions.


One small business spotlight: For any moms of girls, Well Worn Bows is a great online shop to check out! The owner uses vintage, thrifted and reclaimed fabrics to make bows, headbands and scrunchies. It's fun to know that your bows had a previous life, and that your girl has a unique accessory to wear.


 

Although I typically prefer to give and receive tangible gifts rather than gift cards, they are a great way to support many local businesses and restaurants and allow your friends and family to do some of their own shopping or dining throughout the next few months. One of my favorite things to do is build a gift off of a gift card. For example, if you give someone a gift card to a local restaurant, include a bottle of wine from a local wine shop, a pretty pair of candles from a local gift shop, or even a couple sets of reusable utensils from an eco-friendly shop for an outdoor picnic. It could inspire your gift recipient to really create a date night at home.


 

It's hard to put together a truly comprehensive list of Lafayette-based businesses (because pregnancy brain is real and this year has knocked me sideways!) but you can peruse my recently updated guide to sustainable shopping in Acadiana as inspiration for your eco-friendly holiday shopping.


I hope everyone has a very safe, healthy and peaceful Thanksgiving this year!

Sustainable Maternity Style, Round Two

It's hard to believe that as of this post, I am already 26 weeks pregnant with our second baby. It's been quite a roller coaster to this point, in many ways. And now it's blowing my mind as I realize I'm almost to my third trimester.

 

With a repeat pregnancy, it can be inherently easier to be more sustainable and less wasteful. Since we knew we would want to try for a second child, we kept a lot of baby and maternity items in storage, and it's been a relief to know we have almost everything we need.

 



I'll have another post on what we've saved for a second baby and what we are purchasing! Today, I'm talking maternity clothing and gear.


How this pregnancy compares

While I saved almost all of my maternity clothing from when I was pregnant two and a half years ago, the biggest difference this time is the change of seasons, as I'm due in February compared to September. I won't be wearing too many sundresses and shorts in my third trimester this time around!

 

I've learned what I like and don't like from last time and have adjusted accordingly. I'm not one to go crazy shopping for such a temporary season of life, so I've found many ways to minimize spending money on maternity items. In addition, knowing that this is my last pregnancy has helped cut down on frivolous shopping. Y'all, maternity clothing can get so expensive!

 

Make your existing clothing work

Once you start to show, it's extremely helpful to go through your closet and see which of your pieces may be bump-friendly and which are not. Save yourself some frustration by putting away the clothes you know you won't be wearing until after baby. It'll also help save you time when you get dressed.


Loose and flowy tops or dresses or longer sweaters work well to accommodate growing bumps.

 

I've also made do with the maternity clothes I saved from last time. I purchased a pair of maternity yoga pants last time because they were on sale and I was in the store, although they are not the greatest quality and not made of any kind of sustainable material. I don't love them, so I spent the first few months of this pregnancy hunting for a sustainable pair... with no luck. 

 

I bought a new pair of compression-like maternity leggings off an Instagram ad recently and they didn't fit right, so I returned them. It made me realize the hunt really wasn't even worth it, being halfway through my pregnancy and only needing them for four more months. Although I don't love my existing yoga pants, they do the job, and I can pass them along or sell them when I'm done needing them.


Borrow or freecycle

Ask around to your friends and social media networks to see who might have some maternity clothing stored away that you can borrow for a few months. 

 

I am grateful to have a good friend in my neighborhood who is close to my size and has two young children. We've gotten closer this year thanks to social distance walks with our kids during the stay-at-home phase. When I told her about my pregnancy, she generously loaned me her saved collection of maternity clothes, which has helped provide me with just enough fall and winter work-friendly and casual pieces. 

 

The dress in the top photo of this post is one of those loaned items, and it is extremely comfortable, forgiving and season appropriate!

 

Shop secondhand

Almost all of the maternity clothes I bought while pregnant with Ariana were secondhand, either from my local Clothes Mentor or from ThredUP. Since then, I've learned Clothes Mentor stopped selling maternity clothes. I'm disappointed to not have a local secondhand option, although there are plenty of online outlets.

 

I decided I wanted to get a maternity dress for the holidays and any nicer events coming up (although at this rate, I might just be wearing it around the house) and browsed both Poshmark and ThredUP for a couple weeks for something that would fit my style. My current nice cool-weather dresses are overall not bump-friendly. 

 

It helps to try a few different secondhand outlets, because you'll find a wider variety of options. In my search, I first tried Poshmark, but gave up quickly because all of the dresses I found were asking $50-$100, and I'm just not willing to spend that much on a secondhand maternity dress. (Although as a seller, you can earn more money through Poshmark compared to ThredUP.)


ThredUP certainly offers more affordable dresses, and I found one that works. Tip: Take your time and search a few times over a few days, because their inventory changes so frequently. You can favorite the dresses you like to keep tabs on them.


Shop sustainable

There are sustainable and ethical brands that offer maternity and nursing-friendly clothing and accessories as well. 


Pact is one of my favorite stores for organic cotton basic pieces, and they sometimes stock maternity tops and leggings, but it comes and goes.


Boob Design is a Swedish-based company that uses eco-friendly materials in their nursing and maternity clothes. I have one of their nursing-friendly dresses that I'm actually looking forward to wearing again!

 

My friend Natalie over at Sustainably Chic wrote a guide over the summer about sustainable and ethical maternity clothing, so check that out as well!


The Good Trade also has a roundup of eight sustainable maternity/postpartum brands.


One of those brands, Isabella Oliver, even has a pre-loved section where you can shop secondhand pieces. It would be amazing for more brands to adopt this practice!


Shop new and sell, donate or pass along later

Another item that I saved from last time and didn't want to wear again was a secondhand pair of jeans. I donated them (they didn't sell on Poshmark) and treated myself to a new pair from H&M. It wasn't a really sustainable purchase, but I knew I would want to wear jeans I actually like. I've already gotten a lot of use out of them, and will keep wearing them during these cooler months. They're much more my style and feel like regular jeans (with a belly band!)


I've bought three other things brand new: a comfortable dress and top also from H&M, and a pregnancy support band from Amazon. I didn't feel like I needed a support band for my first pregnancy, but it has absolutely been a life saver this time. I am sure there are plenty for resale online, but I was getting to a point where I needed one to come in quickly! 


And I'll be selling everything on Poshmark next spring, ha.

 

Even if I didn't buy everything secondhand, I'm wearing my new items often enough to be worth it.


Whether you're in your first pregnancy or not, if you're thinking about having more children, save as much as you can to rewear!

 

 

This outfit (one that has been on repeat many times) is a combination of my different tactics: I already had the kimono in my closet, the top is new from H&M and the pants are borrowed from a friend!


In the end, having a minimal maternity wardrobe helps to decrease your cost per wear, which makes buying clothing more worthwhile. Don't feel the pressure to buy a completely new wardrobe for just a few months of your life. Sure, it gets tiring wearing the same things over and over again, but you'll be back to your regular clothes soon enough.

How to Help Those Affected by Hurricane Laura

(Originally published 9/11/20, last updated 9/15/20) 

 

It's been two weeks since Hurricane Laura made its way across Louisiana, destroying Lake Charles and surrounding towns and parishes in the process.

This was the biggest storm that has hit Louisiana since I've become an adult and moved out on my own. It certainly brought a high level anxiety as none of us knew what to expect or how bad it would be for us here in Lafayette. As the storm came through in the middle of the night, we stayed up listening to the wind, but thankfully, Ariana slept through the whole thing.

I'm extremely grateful that Lafayette and my home were spared of major damage and we personally didn't lose power, but it's hard to see the majority of Southwest Louisiana so battered. In addition, many areas in Central Louisiana faced damage from the strong winds. I've heard from friends and colleagues that photos don't even do the damage in Lake Charles justice. Nearly every building in the city is damaged to some degree. Many compare the sight to what it looks like after a tornado passes through - except across a much larger area. 

 

Photo via Second Harvest


So many people have stepped in to assist, from working around the clock to restore power and water, to cooking and distributing food, to distributing ice and water, to donating and distributing needed supplies and clothing.

The rebuilding process is well underway, and there are ways you can help even if you aren't nearby or in a position to provide manual labor.

 

Via Times Picayune



United Way of Acadiana

Donate supplies via United Way of Acadiana's Amazon wishlist.

United Way has also partnered with local startup Hampr to provide laundry services to displaced residents. Support that effort by donating here.

 

Photo via United Way of Acadiana

 

United Way of SWLA

Donate supplies via United Way of SWLA's Amazon wishlist.

The organization is keeping an updated list of supplies and materials needed for residents who are cleaning up and rebuilding. You can donate to their efforts at the bottom of the page.


Red Cross

Donate or volunteer through the Red Cross.

 

The Current

My friend April put together a comprehensive list of places where you can donate supplies in Lafayette for The Current. Check out her list if you want to donate goods rather than money. 

 

Second Harvest food bank  

The Second Harvest food bank has been collecting food donations in Lafayette and Elmwood and transporting them to Lake Charles. Visit their Facebook page for current information.


Operation BBQ Relief

Operation BBQ Relief is one of the nonprofit organizations currently deployed in Lake Charles providing meals to residents and first responders free of charge. Donate to support their efforts here.

 

Team Rubicon

Team Rubicon is a group of veteran volunteers who help communities recover and rebuild, often by providing manual labor. Donate to support their efforts here.


Louisiana Care Fund

This fund is administered by the Louisiana Hospital Association Research and Education Foundation and supports hospital workers in rebuilding. Donate here.

 

Acadian Companies Employee Disaster Relief Fund

Similar to the Care Fund, this fund is set up by Acadian Ambulance to support EMS personnel and Acadian employees who were impacted by the hurricane. Many first responders were on shift when the storm passed through and were away from their homes and families and continue to work as they rebuild. Donate here.

 

Resources for Lake Charles residents and volunteers

Lake Charles Memorial Hospital is keeping an updated list of resources on their social media, including where to pick up food, ice and water.

 

Cajun Navy

The Cajun Navy has been hard at work helping residents recover and rebuild. In a post on their Facebook page from September 9, they list specific donation items needed for residents whose homes are facing mold damage.

Follow the group's Facebook page for other ways to donate or volunteer.

 

The705

Lafayette-based organization The705 is collecting used laptops that will be cleaned up (with all personal information removed) and converted for use by displaced Calcasieu and Cameron Parish students who may not have a laptop for remote learning.

Donate your old laptops to EDC by September 30, 2020.


 

As I find more resources throughout the recovery from Hurricane Laura, I'll update this list. There's a long road ahead for Louisiana, but we have proven over the years that we can and will rebuild.

Local Restaurants That Use Plant-Based Packaging

(Originally posted 7/16/2020, last updated 11/24/2020)

With almost every restaurant adapting to takeout and curbside pickup orders during the pandemic, single-use takeout containers, utensils, straws and napkins have definitely multiplied.

It is so important to continue to support local businesses during these times, especially restaurants that are struggling to keep their doors open. And ordering dinner from your favorite restaurant is a nice break from cooking once in awhile. (Even though I love to cook, I get burnt out on doing it as often as I have been, and look forward to treating the family to some restaurant food!)

So during Plastic Free July, I came up with a list of locally/regionally owned restaurants in Acadiana that use plant-based or plastic- and Styrofoam-free packaging. Not only are these some delicious restaurants, but you can also feel better knowing you aren't contributing to more plastic and Styrofoam waste.


Plastic Free July

Today kicks off the annual Plastic Free July movement, which aims for millions of people to be part of the solution to plastic pollution, enabling us to have cleaner streets and oceans and beautiful communities.

This year is the 10th year for the movement that has now inspired over 250 million participants in 177 countries, according to Plastic Free July's Facebook page.

It’s not about being perfect (there is no failing with Plastic Free July) but rather starting by looking at the plastics in your life (look inside your bin, fridge or pantry) and choosing to refuse one single-use plastic.

https://www.facebook.com/PlasticFreeJuly/photos/a.249328958515547/3241407319307681/?type=3&theater

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