inspired.

sometimes I just need a little bit of inspiration. here are a few things I’m loving these Fall days-

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1. Chicken Sweet Potato Apple Skillet

2. warm & inviting string lights

3. countryside, on fire with beauty

4. cozy plaid scarves

5. comforting, warm drinks

6. oh sweet joy blog and clothing line

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my pinterest– {for more things I’ve come to love!}

You Are Worth It

The past few days have been a blur.

Some friends and I put together a spontaneous closet sale, which turned out to be a HUGE success! The amount of old relationships I got to rekindle and new ones I got to make amazed me, and all the socializing felt like my own personalized version of heaven!

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{love some of my very best friends in one picture!}

Combining my passions for shopping, fashion, girls/women and planning gave me SO much life, and as I’ve replayed how the event went (and mentally began to plan the next one) I’ve felt my heart stirring to blog on a topic that is so real in my life- and maybe yours too.

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You are worth it.

I’ve shared my journey with self image before, with perfectionism, eating, and my perception of beauty. One thing I really prayed in planning for the closet sale is that it would be a fun, social event that girls would enjoy, and that looking in the mirror and trying on clothing would bring life not lies.

Trust me, I know what the mirror can do. You know why it was so easy to sell my clothing? All I had to do was grab piles from our bedroom floor, leftover from weekday mornings when I practically threw tantrums over how I looked.

Well I guess I didn’t like these, or I would have worn them, so might as well sell them.

How many of us have been in this position? Something is SO cute on the rack, in the catologue, and even when you lay out an outfit Thursday night. But when Friday morning comes and you slip into that adorable dress, you realize that it clings a little tighter than you want, that the color looks better with your bedroom chair than your skin tone, or that you simply do not like what you see. You end up in so many attempts at “the perfect outfit,” that soon your hair is messed up, your deoderant has landed on a hem somewhere back at outfits #4 or 5, and your confidence is crushed. As unfortunate as it may be, your mood has been defined.

You would be hard pressed to find a woman who has not experienced this very thing at some point in her existence. And for those who haven’t, I applaud you. You are not missing out.

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I’ve often rambled to my husband the thoughts I have about a certain fashion phenomenon. That something can look SO cute in a store, or even on some other girl, but then you bring it home and it suddenly becomes this sad piece of fabric, collecting dust in your closet. I’ve (more recently) come to the conclusion that I’m blaming the wrong thing.

This may not be the clothing’s fault. Or even the company who created it.

How often do I choose to make a purchase on a “good day,” and then 24-hours later hate what I see in the mirror? How often am I just unhappy with me, with my number size or my heighth or the tone of my skin, with my peeling sunburn or the “extra weight” I percieve? How often do I throw fits in the morning, not because of the clothing, but because of my lacking confidence?

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As I think of the women I admire most in life, I realize something- They each know their value and they each recognize their worth.

I am not just attracted to the clothing they wear or the style of their hair or the way they always look just right. I am attracted to the deep seeded confidence I just feel when I’m around them. A confidence that creates comfortability, a knowledge of who they are in the Lords eyes, that they have so much to offer, and that they can invest in other people, in me. To look outward instead of inward, and value so much more than the material.

I am no pro at getting rid of this warped sense of beauty that is so easy to grab hold of. In fact, all I can tell you is that even in marriage, when you have been chosen and you know your husband loves you, it is a struggle. But I am a firm believer that being aware of the root of a problem helps majorly in then taking hold and uprooting, and I know that fighting your own thoughts does make a difference!

 I often think about someday, when we could have a little girl, and it brings tears to my eyes.

If  there is one thing I want her [and YOU]  to know, it is this.

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xoxo Katie

12 Ways to Warm Up to Winter

Since my husband works in construction, snow is probably his greatest enemy. I, on the other hand, am a secret (but not so secret) snow lover. I get so much joy out of days off and roads closed it’s ridiculous, but I think we can all agree this is definitely a long, harsh winter. I feel like it’s around this time of year that things start to go downhill. You hit Valentine’s Day and then suddenly it feels like nothing is worth looking forward to and there’s an awkward pause before spring. Here are some ways that I am choosing/learning to enjoy this winter, and love where I’m at for all it’s worth.

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1. Crisp & Fresh Decor. I have recently become a fresh flower fanatic. I just love having them anywhere in my home, cause they really do brighten a room. Fresh bouquets can be a little pricey during this season, so I’ve turned to greens as my creative outlet. I love to incorporate jars of them wherever I can, mix them with other flowers, or use them to in centerpieces when I’m entertaining. Another perfect solution I’ve recently discovered is Paperwhites. These bulbs are so low maintenance, I mean it’s almost too good to be true for a girl who wasn’t blessed with gardening skills… I picked up a couple at Central Market for $1.50 each, put them in jars, keep up with the water and they simply grow. I love the touch of spring they bring to my home, i’m so impressed they’ve lived this long.

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2. Find Reasons to Celebrate. I am always up for a holiday, a party, anything that means friends and celebrations. In the winter (and all year round) I thrive off of finding ways to make each day special. Whether it’s celebrating Valentine’s Week rather than day, holding an authentic Irish dinner for St. Patrick’s Day, or dropping little “Have a good day” gifts on people’s doorsteps. When I focus on others I find so much more life than succumbing to the winter blues.

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3. Enjoy the cozy & comfy. It’s easy for me to pull on some sweats and Brent’s hoodie and go into hibernation mode, but you don’t have to dress down to feel comfy and warm. I feel ten times better when I do something, anything to my hair, put on a little make up and even just wear a pair of jeans.

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[some of my cold weather faves. waffle sweater//gap. infinity scarf//h&m. lace band leggings// forever 21. cable knit socks// bath & body. embellished fingerless gloves// target.]

4. Get your fill of fresh. I’ve always had a goal to eat my fruits and vegetables each day. In the winter it feels 10x harder. Recently I’ve been pulling out the blender and making smoothies as a yummy way to get these nutrients. Vegetables seem harder for me to eat throughout the day so throwing kale or spinach in with my frozen fruit is the perfect solution. We love the frozen fruit medley at Costco and a huge bag is only $10.

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5. Workout. I’ve mentioned this before, and as hard as it feels to get up and get going, the best thing I can do to kick that blah feeling is move. If it’s too snowy to make it to the gym I do a combination of great workouts I’ve found online. Cassey is slightly ridiculous sometimes but she keeps me occupied and is great for strength training. Fitness Blender is another great one I’ve recently discovered, and use to get my cardio in.

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6. Winter is the perfect time for easy cooking. I always think of winter as the more complex of the seasons as far as meals go. That was before I discovered a Pinterest, a million delicious soup recipes, and came to the realization that soup is easy. When I have broth for a base, some kind of grain (rice, potatoes, pasta), a variety of vegetables and a source of protein I can usually come up with some savory soup. Another thing I love to make on cold and snowy days is quiche. Again, staples you have in your fridge, a way to use up lots of leftover ingredients, and easy!

Here is a delicious recipe for Bok Choy Chicken soup. It’s light and healthy but feels like warm comfort food on a snowy day.

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7. Love those hot drinks. I don’t think i’ve ever enjoyed a mug of something hot more than I have this winter. During the day I love a cup of hot tea, when a friend comes to chat I pull out the french press and some new creamers, and when we have a snow day or company coming I get creative. Snow days typically mean homemade hot cocoa (2 cups sugar to 1 cup cocoa powder). SO easy and SO irresistable. One evening we had friends over and tried making our own egg nog. Another super delicious and simple recipe that I’ve used multiple times since. 

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8. Cleanse your closet. What better way to spend a day stuck at home than going through all those clothes you never wear. I almost always find something that I forgot existed (so it’s practically like shopping all over again) and a million things I know I’ll never wear. I try and keep in mind the last time I wore an item, envision myself actually wearing it out and if I’m really struggling I’ll text my sisters for a second opinion. My current closet is a little too small for my clothes, so until we have a house where my clothes get their own room (one of my secret dreams :), ) I am cleaning like every month just to organize! My most recent cleanse led to color coordination, which has made picking outfits way more fun.

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9. Tackle a project. If you have a husband he might hate me for this, but I’m always up for a new project. I can’t wait for a bigger house with more rooms to re-do, but in the meantime I’ve found my fair share. The most recent was this dream-come-true chalkboard wall which Brent played a huge part in!

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10. Shop spring. While I’m living winter I’m dreaming of warmer weather, and I believe there’s nothing wrong with shopping for deals to prepare your wardrobe for those sunny days. I am always on the lookout for cute clearance items that I can add to my “spring collection” (A shelf in our bedroom just waiting for me). Even if I find a good deal that I can’t wear now, I try to think “How happy would I be to have this three months from now?” The answer is almost always very happy.

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[shorts//g.h. bass, $2.99 each. tank top//gap, $2.79. scarf//j. crew, $6.50.]

11. Read [Relax]. I used to love reading, I obviously love writing, but I feel like college kind of (in the kindest sense of the phrase) sucked the life out of it. I always had to read, so when I didn’t have to it was the last thing I wanted. Since graduation I’ve slowly picked up some books and gotten back into it. I feel like now is the time, summer will only get crazier, and as difficult as relaxing can be for me, I know it’s good. YOU deserve it!

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[currently reading// bread & wine by shauna niequist.]

12. How about a hobby? Hobbies sound kind of ridiculous to me. I imagine my 10 year-old-self with my postcard collection and want to laugh out loud. But this winter a friend taught me to crochet, and I think I’ve gained a whole new perspective on hobbies. I love the fact that I can “be productive” while watching Friday Night Lights or chatting with a friend, and I’m actually making something I would wear or gift… (Don’t call me for lessons though, I’m a terrible teacher. I hear YouTube has good tutorials… 🙂 )

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So some of you are still not sold on winter, I’m sure of it. But I guarantee you, SPRING IS COMING! And in the meantime, why not enjoy where we’re at?

you inspire me.

A couple months ago I got to do two things I love.

1. Help a friend with a beautiful heart.

2. Spend my Friday in a dreamy vintage kitchen.

When my inspirational, courageous and lovely friend Michelle asked me to be the model in a photoshoot for her business, tons of insecurity welled up in me. I love pictures, but I do not love being in front of the camera. You’re probably thinking, why do you have a trillion and ten engagement/wedding photos? Well. I have a super talented friend and I married a wanna-be J. Crew model. So there is your explanation. (and Brent’s deepest, darkest secret). Luckily, the focus of this shoot (and the beauty of this business) was not on me.

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(Rather than explain the premise of Imagine Goods, I thought I’d share this newsletter I wrote on behalf of the founders not long ago)

Who We Are

We are wives, mothers and friends brought together by our passion for justice. We are Aiyana Ehrman and Michelle Kime. After our first trip to Cambodia in 2006, we decided to take action in the fight for justice, and make a difference in the lives of the people we encountered. This is when Imagine Goods was born. We stayed in contact with a non-government organization, Cambodia Hope (CHO), partnering in any way that we could. We also began taking teams of people on “exposure trips,”  in order to expose the issues of poverty we had encountered. Through those trips, and many generous donations, we helped CHO drill eight different wells and implement three different sanitation projects. We were able to raise funds for the HIV+ projects, School on the Mat, and meet some of CHO’s other financial needs.

During this time we began working with some sewing projects that CHO had already started. We saw this as a beautiful way to provide opportunities for those trained in this art. Five years ago we commissioned 45 bags of two varieties, in hopes that these would sell successfully. The products took off, and we gradually added different patterns and larger quantities to the sewing orders. Our goal was to utilize CHO sewing students as our seamstresses, and to source as many of the supplies as possible directly from Cambodia. At this point we became very familiar with the open markets of Phnom Penh, as we poured over fabric, zippers and buttons on each of our trips.

What began as a non -profit searching for projects has grown into a business.

About a year ago we realized this sewing project was evolving into a business. We felt that this project was the most sustainable of all our endeavors and that it would offer the most stable opportunities for empowerment to our Cambodian partners- to CHO.  This conclusion led us to restructure our non-profit to a business; Imagine Goods! We have shifted from 45 re-usable bags to a full line of products. These products include clothing, home goods and accessories,  all handcrafted by marginalized and vulnerable people, given an opportunity for change. All of our fabrics are sourced from open markets in Cambodia, therefore helping to sustain the local economy.

You might call us accidental entrepreneurs...we never really intended to start a business.  In fact, we do things differently than some businesses. People matter to us way more than the bottom line, and our goal is to stay aware of the entire chain of people involved in the creation of our product. Are they earning a living wage (enough to meet their basic needs)? Are they being empowered? This is why we call ourselves a Sustainable Supply Co.

We believe that, when WE purchase a product, the cost of this item should sustain each person connected to it, with a living wage.

Love, Aiyana & Michelle

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I was thrilled to help show off the sweet products that Imagine Goods has to offer. And am thrilled to call Michelle a friend. She has inspired me in so many ways, helped me to grow my heart toward the impoverished and my fight for justice/against human trafficking. The idea of being able to purchase fair trade items and support these women is amazing to me.

Each item is created by a different seamstress. Each seamstress has a symbol, and attached to that symbol is a story. Match your symbol to the story on ImagineGoods.com and suddenly the piece of clothing or home decor has meaning and purpose. There is beauty in each imperfection, just knowing where it came from.

Educate yourself! Visit the site! Tell your husband you know just what you want for Valentine’s Day 🙂

Shopping is that much better when you know where your money is going.

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p.s. Michelle, you inspire me.