not going to lie, i don’t love big bags.

You know what drives me crazy? Designer handbags. And before I get too far, I know many of my friends have them. Please don’t take an offense to this, I’m not picking on anyone in particular. I just want everyone to be more conscious about what you’re spending your money on.  When it comes to designer handbags, I just don’t get the appeal.  I think it was the combination of someone posting about a new Michael Kors store opening and then seeing a post about a new line of handmade bags on a facebook update. Everyone seems to have a designer bag or two, or three. Doesn’t it kind of bother you, that thousands of other ladies are going to have the exact same bag as you? And these bags all seem to cost a lot of money. This isn’t by any means a plug for buying my bags either. I know my bags have a handmade look and I completely understand that ‘look’ isn’t for everyone.  I make them because I enjoy the process, and just making things in general. I can only imagine what I could put together if I knew someone was going to pay me 100’s of dollars for the final product. And the end result would be an original that was handmade (with love). Not from a factory in a second or third world country. I read a statistic that the average designer handbag costs only $6.00 to make. That is an insanely low number! I can’t even buy a yard of fabric for $6!

So if you’re willing to spend the money to have a designer looking bag, I want to show you some businesses that make great bags that you can feel better about supporting.

Stephany Childers’ from Rebyc makes some badass bags! (http://rebychandbags.com) All her bags are made with recycled leather and fabric. Every bag is truly unique and original. If only I had a machine that could sew leather, and an unlimited supply of beautiful leather.  I’ve been eyeing her bags for SO long and someday maybe I’ll own one, if I could ever decide on just one.

Another company that is a little more affordable for the average person is, http://www.betterlifebags.com  They make beautiful bags and do a lot of giving back. You can definitely feel good about making a purchase from their shop. Here is a little excerpt from their mission statement “We hire women, who otherwise cannot get jobs, to work for BLB.  We rent them a sewing machine and tools while teaching them a skill set that allows them to become a primary or secondary provider in their families.  Most of these women are first generation immigrants from countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Yemen, so we are also able to provide them with much needed fellowship and friendship as we visit their homes to deliver fabric and pick up orders.” And they give 10% of every sale to an entrepreneur in a developing country.

There are a lot of shops with beautiful bags that are worth checking out, weather its at a local shop in your town or on etsy.com or artfire.com.  Be conscious when you spend money and know who you’re supporting.

I hope I didn’t offend any of my friends with this post. I really just needed get this out and don’t want anyone to take it personally.

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Earth Day 2011

Earth day is just around the corner, one week from today, actually (april 22). I know we don’t need a day to remind us to treat the earth and ourselves better but I’m not going to complain, it all helps. I feel like becoming more minimalistic is better for everyone, including the earth. Living in Germany was an amazing experience and such an eye-opening opportunity. It made me realize how wasteful our country is. There is so much about European culture that I wish our country would embrace. For example recycling in Germany is the law. Everyone does it and they have a great system that works. Also walking/biking and public transportation are the norm. I know not everyone in rural areas or bigger cities can walk or take public transportation where they need to go but almost everyone can carpool. How many people go by a co-workers house on their way to work or has a co-worker pass by their house? Why is it such an inconvenience to ride together? Even stay at home moms can do their grocery shopping with a friend instead of just driving themselves or sending kids to school together? It just takes a little planning ahead. (And even there are more extreme measures a person can take like moving closer to a job or kids school)  I know if more people adopted more of these practices they could possibly eliminate a second or third vehicle. I mean, who loves paying a big vehicle payment every month, or car insurance, or high gas prices and vehicle repairs? It saves everyone money and in turn is also good for the earth. And it’s all part of minimizing the stresses in your lives, which makes you a happier, healthier person.

Back to the topic of recycling, It was something that I never did before we moved to Germany and now it’s just part of our lives. I know a lot of people don’t know how to recycle or where to go or what they can recycle and what they can’t. And honestly once you get the hang of things it’s so easy. When we first started recycling I printed out a list of what goes where and hung it about the 3 bins we used for sorting. There were no excuses because you could easily check the list and put it in the appropriate bin. This cut down drastically on our waste that went in the general garbage. On a typical week we’d have one bag of garbage. I was so disgusted by our neighbors when we lived in Arkansas because everyone on our street used at least 2 large garbage cans and they would be overflowing with trash every week. ( I could go off on a tangent about buying less stuff but that will have to wait for another post)  It was frustrating because that is so ‘typical America’ to me. So many people don’t think twice about where their trash goes once it leaves their house. It’s ‘out of sight out of mind’ at it’s best. We also use a compost pile and have dogs that get left over food scraps, and that helps so much with not having smelly garbage sitting in the kitchen too. We also use cloth diapers, which can be an entirely separate post also. There are so many small things you can do. I’m not suggesting everyone make lots of drastic changes because I know it’s not ideal for most. But I am asking you to get out of your comfort zone and be conscious of your everyday routines.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Use Cloth Napkins.

Carry a reuseable water bottle.

Know where your trash goes after it leaves your house.

Start or seek out a carpool at work or school.

Walk or ride your bike when you can.

I know there are a lot of links out there for every region but I thought I’d at least post the link to the What, Why, Where, How of recycling in Minnesota. If you don’t know about recycling in your area get online and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of resources to answer all your question.