Handmade and Recyled Holiday Gift Guide

For the good of humanity, I am exposing what I plan to give all of my friends for Christmas. I don’t want you to give your friends another round of body sprays you got on sale at Bath and Body Works this year. You’re better than that. Instead, take a look at how I plan to up-cycle most of the gifts I am giving this holiday season. I hope you’ll see that recycling or hand-making gifts does not have to look cheap and obvious.

Wax Food Wraps from Recycled Fabric


This is the perfect gift to passive aggressively prompt your friends and family to be more environmentally conscious! Wax food wraps have been all over the internet this year and it turns out they can be made fairly easily and almost entirely out of recycled materials. You’ll need fabric (cotton, or anything thick with no stretch), beeswax, and parchment paper. Separate them into gift sets of three or four different sizes, and add a label that explains to wash them in cold water and use around 150 times.

Do not buy new fabric to make these. Instead, turn first to what you have laying around. That bag of clothes you’ve been meaning to take to Goodwill? Search it for pieces you can cut up into squares. If you can’t find anything, thrift. Thrift store usually have tons of fabric in bags on the back shelves but you could also buy clothing pieces to cut up for this too. Just throw them all in the wash before using. I actually already own tons of fabric scraps from past projects, so this is a great way to use up fabric that might otherwise go to waste. There is a way to make these in the oven and with a clothing iron. I’m linking tutorials to both because I definitely didn’t come up with either of these methods. I’m planning on experimenting with some other kinds of waxes for my vegan pals.

Treats to Go With

If you want to try making wax wraps, some kind of baked good would pair marvelously as a gift. Even if you are not much of a baker, there are tons of classic Christmas favorites like chocolate dipped pretzels, which are impossible to mess up. However, I feel like most people have at least one recipe that they really enjoy making, so I say go with what you’re best at doing. This adds a little more depth to the gift and gives you an opportunity to show the recipient how to use the wax wraps.

Books

Books are one of the greatest gifts of all time. From an objective perspective, of course. You can buy them second hand form your local book store, and will probably be able to find almost any book you looking for, or you can take time and dig through thrift store stacks. I think a book that was picked out with the recipient in mind is such a thoughtful gift. Add a note to the book about why you liked it or why you picked it out for your specific friend. Small personal touches make all of the difference when gifting.

Mugs

I am guilty of giving mugs as gift way, way, way too often. But who can’t use another quirky mug? I love finding super weird vintage mugs at second hand stores and antique stores. They are never too expensive and are always unique. I bought my sister one that said “sisters are forever” on it, which is wonderfully ominous. These can be filled with cookies and treats, or paired with some nice tea. If you are feeling more crafty, search Goodwill for some blank mugs and design a personalized mug. Using a sharpie, draw flowers, quotes, inside jokes, or obscure tv references only your friend would understand. They Sky is the limit. Then, put them in the oven for 20 minutes at around 350 degree, and then let them cool inside.

Gift Wrapping

I may be giving you the same advice over and over again, but a lot of people do not realize the variety of things you can thrift. On the back shelves in thrift stores there are giant bags full of ribbons and lace for just a couple of dollars. All of the notions pictured above were from thrift store grab bags. (And for you nitpicky readers, I know two of those are bias tape, but they work just as well as ribbon, promise.) I think tying up a gift in a bow, with no wrapping paper, is a super simple way to make your gift pretty with out a bunch of excess. Try using book pages to make gift labels or wrap small gifts. I also grabbed some pretty colored paint chips from the hardware store to make gift labels. I don’t think this counts as recycling but it is cute and free, which is also nice.

Bonus (for the brave):

Embroidery! It is not as hard as many people assume that it is. Shirts with little embroidered phrases or symbols are all the rage. There are tones of blank t-shirts in all colors and sizes at thrifts stores. Pick one up at Goodwill, a 50 cent package of embroidery thread (that stuff you used to make friendship bracelets in sixth grade) and needles, and just spend a little time trial-and-erroring and youtubing. This is another way to make a super personal, inexpensive, and recycled gift. This video is a super simple guide to a few different stitches.

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I suppose I should end this post with an apology to my friends and family for telling them (and all of the internet) what they are getting for Christmas. I’m not going to do that, though.

Fashion and the Environment (2 of 3)

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In the first part of my ethical fashion series, I tackled how the fashion industry affects humanity. Today I’ll be explaining the fashion industry’s effect on the earth (which also, in turn, affects humanity). If you want a little bit of background on this topic before diving in, click here to read my first post. This issue is fairly complex, having different facets such as the production, materials, and us– the consumers. I am no professional, but we are all capable of educating ourselves, so read on if you’d like to raise your awareness with me.

Production & Materials

Every item of clothing produced uses up resources and, since we are buying more clothes than ever, companies are producing more than ever, and using up resources at a vastly unsustainable rate. One of the most prominent examples of this is the disappearance of the Aral Sea due to the vast amount of water necessary in cotton farming. The amount of water it takes to produce one cotton shirt is enough for a person to drink in over two years (about 27,000 liters) according the World Resources Institute. In the process of drying up the Aral Sea, around 60,000 people lost jobs in fishing. Not to mention the water and air pollution caused by pesticides used in cotton farming which release carcinogens and toxins, causing sickness and death in the surrounding areas. Humanity cannot afford to farm cotton at the rate that fast fashion companies are producing items.

(Other materials, such as leather and fur, have a big impact on the environment, but for the sake of this article’s length and the fact that most of us are more likely to be consumers of cotton, I left them them out.)

Although the creation of synthetic fibers can reduce the use of natural resources in the process of making clothing, it ends up negatively affecting the earth toward the end, or lack thereof, of the clothing item’s life. Synthetic products, such as polyester, do not biodegrade. So, when it gets tossed out, it sits in a landfill basically forever. When all human life, animal life, and the earth itself have passed away, there will just be millions of transcendent polyester mini-dresses floating throughout space. (Okay, that was definitely not scientific, but I was worried you stopped paying attention.)

Now what?

I know what you are thinking, “If natural fibers are bad and synthetic fibers are bad, are we just supposed to become nudists?” And the answer is no (or, yes, if you feel so inclined). Natural fibers, such as cotton, are definitely the best option, we just need to make sure we are supporting companies which source products that are organic (leaving out all those bad chemicals) and sustainable (paying attention to how they are using resources). The issue is not that we need to stop growing natural materials, we just need to grow less of it and grow it responsibly. This may sounds impossible, but if companies such as Patagonia can do a fantastic job of this, I believe other companies can follow suit.

Us

We cannot entirely place the blame on the industry, as we all have a shared responsibility in what and how we consume. According to the World Resources Institute, a regular shopper is buying 60% more clothing than they were less than twenty years ago, while only holding on to it for half of the time. A byproduct of inexpensively made and mass-produced clothing is the lack of quality. When the clothing we buy falls apart because it was cheaply made, we just toss it in the trash and head back to the mall, knowing that it won’t leave too big of a dent in our wallets.  If we throw away synthetic items, they will just take up space in landfills and even natural fibers will sit in landfills for a while before degrading, “due to lack of sunlight and oxygen,” according to EcoGoodz. The best way for us to partake in fashion responsibly is to wear our clothing for longer, reuse it when we can, and recycle it when we can’t.

I know I just dumped a ton of information on you, but the crazy thing is that I just barely scratched the surface. If you want to know even more about this topic, I recommend clicking on some of the articles that I sourced throughout. More than anything, my goal was to get the conversation started so you might begin thinking about your personal impact on the world. My next and last post in this series is going to focus more on what we can do to make our fashion choices more ethical, so stay tuned for that. I hope that we will all continue educating ourselves to the best of our abilities so that we might care for one another, and our earth, better.

Coffee Shop Blues (and Other Colors)

Sometimes the stars align when I walk into a building and my outfit matches the interior design so well that an impromptu photo shoot is necessary. On those days, I am thankful that my favorite coffee shop buddy is a killer photographer like Andrea.

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These photos were all taken at Hank’s Coffee and Wine in Midtown, OKC before I left to go back to Joplin for school. It was such a cozy hangout spot with great coffee. There were almost always dogs there, so that is also a major plus. I am definitely missing it after being back at school for a week.

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The lighting in Hank’s was gorgeous, not to mention the mixture of this pastel couch and the muted tones in my outfit. I used to cringe at the idea of indoor photo shoots in shops and restaurants. They were so public and embarrassing to do in the middle of everyone. Let me tell you, I have pretty much lost any fear, barely even flinching when Andrea jokingly told me to pose like a “sexy librarian” in the middle of a busy coffee shop.

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This bandit style scarf is the closest to cowgirl that my style will ever get. I love tying my square scarves like this because it displays the print much better than when I tie them ascot-style. This scarf has the cutest little fruit print (apples? oranges? I honestly have no idea) so it is a total injustice not to wear it this way every once in a while.

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This outfit is composed of a second-hand scarf, a sweater stolen from my sister’s closet, and a jumpsuit I bought at target my senior year. So, good luck finding any of these pieces. Layering is my best friend. This wide-leg, denim jumpsuit is one my favorite 70s’ vibe pieces I own. I love layering over and under it so that I can get as much use as possible out of such a unique piece.

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Once again, might I point out that socks are the single most underrated accessory? Capri length pants are my favorite because I get a little room to peak my socks. These sheer,  lacy socks were a Christmas present, so I couldn’t tell you where they are from. They seem like a small detail, but their addition makes a difference, tying in the ivory background of the scarf.

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I pretty much consider this couch as a part of my outfit. So, I thought I’d end this post with a picture of my completed look.

I am making a goal to post much more consistently this semester to force myself to take some regular time off from school to create, so you can look forward to that. Unless you hate this blog, then sorry. Why are you reading it? Also, I am still working on my second post in my ethical fashion series, so don’t loose faith in me. I put a lot of effort into them to make sure they are as accurate and well-researched as possible, so hold on a bit longer. It is coming. Here is a link to my last one, if you missed it. I added a few more pictures than usual to this post, so thanks for scrolling through them all.

I am wishing you all a peaceful beginning to the semester.

100% Thrifted Fall Layers – Fall Fashion

Contrary to these deceivingly sunny pictures, it was a fairly chilly day when I wore this outfit. The key to getting away with wearing dresses in the brisk fall weather is layers.
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This outfit brought to you 100% by thrift shops. I have layered a black collared blouse beneath a yellow long-sleeved shirt and threw my favorite 90s’ overall dress over the top. One of the best ways to transition your wardrobe into fall is to keep all of your short-sleeved, collared blouses around to wear under sweaters and long sleeved tops.

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Okay, so I may have lied slightly. My outfit is more like 99% thrifted. The pin I am wearing, my all-time favorite pin, is from the Sparkle Collective’s Etsy shop. It says “baby cats” around the edges, which are a little rust-stained because it has been through the wash a few too many times. (It hardly ever leaves this dress.)

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My good friend Ryan from Ryality blog took these pictures for me. She was a huge help and inspiration in the process of setting up this blog, so check her out if you have a second.

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Per request, I will be working on a thrift-shopping guide full of all my tips and tricks, so sign up to receive my email alerts if you want to know when that comes out. Or don’t if you hate knowing how to find inexpensive, ethical, stylish clothing. That’s cool too.

Peace and blessings.