trés belle

Latest Life Motto

If It's Not a Hell Yes, It's a No  |  Trés Belle

If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.

I’m not sure where I first heard this phrase, but I do know that it was a little over a year ago, and it really resonated with me. I wrote it down on a sticky note and stuck it above my desk.

The thing is, life is really short. Too short to do things we don’t love.

I’m not trying to use this phrase in a #YOLO sort of way to justify bad behavior. Obviously, I still do things that I don’t necessarily love (i.e. eating green beans) in order to reap benefits that I do love (more energy). But, sticking around for things that I really don’t love when there’s no greater purpose or benefit in sight? That’s out.

This has been pretty hard for me, because I am definitely a “yes” person, and I’m the opposite of a quitter. I will slog through the worst, longest, most boring book ever because I simply can’t bring myself to quit once I’ve started. I say yes to doing all the things because I’m afraid of missing out or disappointing someone. Unfortunately, that approach often leaves me with zero emotional and physical resources to enjoy the things I do love.

Sometimes, I really have to sit down, look at my sticky note, and ask myself, “Do I feel HELL YES about this activity? This commitment? This job?”

My most recent hell yes test came in the past few weeks. About a year ago, I began the year-long process of joining the Junior League of Raleigh, something I was super-hell-yes-pumped about. I spent a lot of money, went to a lot of trainings, and did the required community service. I met some really nice people. Yet, as I have approached the date when I will officially become an active member, I have increasingly had a nagging feeling that joining just isn’t what I’m supposed to do right now. My experience as a member has been okay so far, but I’m not fired up about it like I was when I first started. I’m not chomping at the bit to get started on my community service placement next year. I’m not feeling hell yes about it.

The thought of quitting, however, was a little terrifying. I had already invested so much time, money, and energy! I knew the League was doing good work, so that meant it had to be a good thing for me to be involved in, right? And, possibly most of all, I didn’t want anyone in the League to be offended or think I didn’t like them.

The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that following the hell yes rule was the right thing to do in this case. The things I had already invested in the League were sunk costs. It is silly to continue to invest more of our resources into something we aren’t enjoying, even if that thing is an organization with a great mission or cause! I can’t get back any of the time and money I already put into the League, but moving forward, I can put my resources into something that it is a hell yes for me. There is no way to be involved in every single one of the many wonderful organizations out there, and it’s okay to say no to some in order to fully invest yourself in others that are more up your alley.

And, without exception, fellow members of the League have been supportive and kind when I have broken the news to them that I will not be returning next year. I’ve even had quite a few League members confess that they feel the same way as me. So often, people are far more gracious and understanding than we worry they’ll be.

I’ve got to say, living a hell yes life is so much more freeing, purposeful, and fun than overcommitting and stubbornly sticking with things that I’m not passionate about. This will always be a work in progress for me, and I am excited to see where this one short phrase continues to lead me in the future!

xoxo, Laura

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Small Joys: Volume 3

Spring has sprung, days are sunny, and there’s so much to be grateful for! About time for another Small Joys post, right??

Small Joys Volume 3 - Cultivating Gratitude!  |  Trés Belle

Actually, truth be told, I was struggling with some major discontentment this morning. After wallowing for a bit, I convinced myself that the best way to snap out of it was to cultivate gratitude. So, here I am!

Here are the little things that have been bringing me joy lately:

1. Warmer weather! It is no secret that I am a summer girl through and through. I’ve been loving all of the sunshine and t-shirt weather we’ve been having lately. And, I love that it stays light outside so much later with the time change! This past week, we had dinner outside for the first time this spring, and it was glorious.

Easter Bunny Door Dec  |  Trés Belle

2. Y’all already know I love the Business with Purpose podcast. I just listened to Episode 20 with Jessica Honegger of Noonday Collection, and it is one of my favorites yet! She’s a very inspiring person.

3. Speaking of things I’ve been listening to…I finished Inferno by Dan Brown on audiobook last week. Gah! So good! I still like Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code better, but Inferno is excellent as well.

4. Birthday cards! Does anyone else have a hard time parting with cards? I am a major card hoarder. I can’t ever throw away cards right after they’ve been given to me, but I do try to go back periodically to purge. My birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and I’m still enjoying the little army of birthday cards on my kitchen counter. At what point is it no longer acceptable to have them on display??

Birthday Cards |  Trés Belle

5. Gluten-free cake from JP’s Pastry. This exclusively gluten-free bakery based in Benson, NC, makes the BEST cakes! We bought a chocolate salted caramel layer cake to share with my family for my birthday, and everyone loved it. So much, in fact, that we forgot to take a photo of it before we dived in and demolished it. It’s always nice to find a gluten-free alternative that tastes just as good as the real thing!

6. My sparkly mermaid! Wes and I spent my birthday visiting Virginia Beach and Norfolk, where the city symbol is a mermaid. We tried to go to The Mermaid Factory, a Wine and Design-esque shop where you paint plaster mermaids, but they were already booked for the day. Instead, we purchased two of their take home kits and painted our mermaid and dolphin last weekend. It was a great way to relax, and now we have fun souvenirs from our trip!

Ceramic mermaid and dolphin from The Mermaid Factory in Norfolk, VA  |  Trés Belle

7. Friends. Wes and I have been making our way through the entire series of Friends on Netflix for awhile now, watching a couple of episodes here and there. Now, we have only one season left, and I am distraught. I don’t want it to end!! Oh, and please don’t tell me how it’s going to end, unless you want to be dead to me.

8. This cornbread taco casserole. Made it this week and it is so, so good. I may or may not have eaten the leftovers for breakfast this morning. I actually love all of Mary Ross’s recipes! Most of them are gluten-free and vegan or can be modified to be gluten-free or vegan. I used regular dairy cheese on the casserole this week just to speed things up a bit, but her vegan cheese substitutes are really good.

What are y’all joyful about lately? Let’s share and keep the gratitude flowing!

xoxo Laura

A Lesson on Pride and Generosity

My friend Tiffany is someone I look up to in so many ways. I met her as a first year student at UNC-Chapel Hill when I joined a sorority and found myself lucky enough to call her a sister. Even back then, she was so wise, intentional, and thoughtful. She’s also sassy and spunky and an all-around fun personality to be around. So, you can imagine how flattered I was when she asked me to guest post on her blog yesterday!

A lesson on Jesus-like generosity on NOM NAM NOM | Très Belle

Be sure to check out the post, which talks about a major lesson I learned recently about the importance of being generous with my finances rather than using money for my own selfish pride. And be sure to follow her blog, NOM NAM NOM!

xoxo Laura

Ethical Valentine’s Day Outfit

Happy Valentine’s Day, belles!

I have always loved Valentine’s Day, regardless of whether I’ve had a significant other or not. I adore love and warm, fuzzy feelings. I love celebrating all of the important people in my life who I love, including my friends and family members. I love the excessive amounts of pink and glitter, and of course, I love the chocolate!!

I’m keeping it fair trade on the day of love this year in this black and gold dress by Threads 4 Thought (it’s hard to see the gold in the photos, but I promise there is gold thread in the stripes!). Am I the only person wearing black on Valentine’s Day? I think the black is sophisticated, while the gold adds a festive touch. And I love that the dress is work appropriate, but also cute for an evening out. Not having to change or think about multiple outfits = winning in my book.

Fair trade black dress by Threads 4 Thought | Très Belle

I’m also wearing this adorable gold vine headband by Headbands of Hope, a for-good business that gives a headband to a child with cancer for every headband purchased. They have some seriously adorable headbands, too…from workout bands to delicate pieces you’d wear to a black tie affair.

Gold Vine Headband from Headbands for Hope. For every headband purchased, a headband is given to a child with cancer! | Très Belle

And of course, y’all know I worked some fair trade chocolate into a special treat for hubs tonight. Shhh, it’s a surprise. 😉

Did y’all put any thought into your V-Day outfits? Are you excited about today or totally over it?

xoxo Laura

 

Ethical Fashion for 70 Degree February Days

As a North Carolina native, I am no stranger to our state’s penchant for mood swing weather. Just this past weekend, we woke up to the sound of sleet then enjoyed perfectly clear skies and 60 degree temperatures all afternoon. In fact, we’ve had quite a few 70 degree days lately, and it’s still early February! It’s definitely not time to pull out spring clothes yet, so I’ve gotten to wear some of my lightweight darker colored items that I haven’t had out since fall.

Fair trade amulet necklace + made in the USA Annabelle top + Free People leggings from Poshmark |  Trés Belle

I adore this made in the USA Annabelle tunic, which I purchased at The Flourish Market (my fave!). The warm color feels appropriate for winter, while the lightweight fabric matches the actual temperature outside. My layered amulet necklace is also from The Flourish Market and was handmade at a fair trade artisan coop in India. The gray Free People leggings are another ethical fashion find from Poshmark, an app and website where you can buy and sell gently used clothing (it’s my latest obsession). Topping it all of are my black riding boots, which are actual repurposed riding boots from my childhood equestrian days. Hooray for an entirely made in the USA/fair trade/eco-friendly outfit!

Layered amulet necklace made by fair trade artisan co-op in India  |  Trés Belle

How do y’all dress when it’s still the dead of winter and 70 degrees out, especially when you know it’s just going to swing back down into the 20s that night? Would love to hear/see your ideas!

xoxo Laura

A Year of Fair Trade Fashion: Closing Thoughts

The Inside Out Ethical Fashion Challenge 2016 | Trés Belle

I seriously cannot believe it has been 12 months since I took on a challenge to exclusively purchase fair trade clothing for an entire year. I’ve discovered that sticking exclusively to fair trade-certified products is nearly impossible, fallen in love with a few fair trade/ethically made brands (see here, here, here, here, and here), found a local store where I can shop for ethical clothing, and been aghast at times by the lack of ethically produced options in the fashion world (see here, here, and here). While I did have to give up some convenience, it hasn’t been that hard to make ethical choices, and it has made me reflect a lot on my consumeristic habits and the way my purchasing choices impact others. All in all? 100% worth it.

This post is supposed to be about my closing thoughts on buying fair trade fashion, but I really feel like I’ve only just begun. There are so many ideas floating around in my head that I’ve wanted to write about but haven’t had the time, so many ethical brands yet to share, so many areas of the ethical fashion world yet to explore. This challenge has permanently changed my life. While I may not be as strict in the future about buying fair trade-certified clothing, I do hope to buy ethical clothing 99% of the time, whether it’s fair trade, organic, made by a Certified B Corporation, sustainably produced, secondhand, or sweatshop-free. I hope that you’ll continue to enjoy my ethical fashion posts, because they’re here to stay!

Here’s to continuing to vote for a better world with our dollars in 2017!

xoxo Laura

2016: Year in Review

Goodness gracious, belles! Can you believe that another year has come and gone?

To celebrate another great year of blogging, I’ve pulled the top five most frequently visited blog posts from 2016. Starting with number 5:

5. My reflections on my two year wedding anniversary. Glad to see y’all love love as much as I do!

Wedding cooler with wedding vows | Trés Belle

4. My write-up on Catalyst Scrubs, an ethically-sourced scrubs brand! Not going to lie, I was a little surprised to see this one pop up in the top five. Then again, there sure are a ton of nurses, doctors, physical therapists, speech pathologists, CNAs, radiologists, and other medical professionals out there. Makes sense that many of you are looking for ways to do good when purchasing your daily work outfits!

Ethically-sourced scrubs from Catalyst Scrubs | Très Belle

3. The Frizzy Hair Manifesto! I have struggled (and continue to struggle) with so many self-doubts about my hair. It really warms my heart to have your support as I learn to embrace my natural self!

The Frizzy Hair Manifesto: Embrace Your Frizz This Summer! | Très Belle

2. My post introducing the Inside Out Challenge, which was my year-long attempt to exclusively buy fair trade fashion! Read about all of the ensuing escapades here.

The Inside Out Ethical Fashion Challenge 2016 | Trés Belle

1. Annnnnnd top billing this year goes to….Ben and Marie’s picturesque fall wedding!! Who can blame y’all for loving these luscious sunflowers and beautiful burgundy hues?

That’s a wrap, 2016! I can’t wait for what the new year has in store for this blog. Thanks as always for following along!

xoxo Laura

Small Joys: Volume 2

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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