Buying Ethically Conscious - A Shopping Guide

Do you use credit card points?  I just recently got the Southwest Airlines card and have made many of my purchases using it just to get points.  It's so great knowing each purchase I make actually goes toward something and makes a difference!  Similarly, as we make purchases and take part in today's marketplace, we have the opportunity to get "points" when we shop ethically...I like to call them "ethically conscious points"...but basically, it's just knowing that you bought from companies who promote fair trade, ethical labor, and environment stewardship...and doing your part to better the world in which we live.  Obtaining these hypothetical points are, in my mind, ways we each can make a difference in another's life.  Who doesn't want more of that?!
While there are MANY ethically conscious companies out there, I thought I'd share with you a few of my favorites.  (Several of these can be found locally at Tiaras here in town...next time you're in the boutique, make sure to tell the shop girls I sent you!)

1.  Sseko Designs:

I got my first pair of Sseko sandals from Tiaras Boutique and absolutely LOVE them.  The cherry on top is how wonderful their mission is...giving employment opportunities and scholarships to women pursuing their dreams in Uganda.  Sseko strives to empower these women and gives consumers (us) a hand in their admirable mission, as well!  Check out their lines of sandals, booties, flats, etc!


2.  The Giving Keys:

The Giving Keys (also can be found at Tiaras), is a company founded upon employing those transitioning out of homelessness.  The idea is to give your key (with whatever message that key embraces...examples are believe, faith, family, courage, hope, love, truth, etc.) onto someone who needs it more than you.  What a beautiful cycle of paying it forward! 


3.  Purse & Clutch:

Purse & Clutch is an Ethical Handbag boutique that partners with artisans around the world.  These artisans are treated with respect and are paid a fair and living wage for their region.  I personally know the owner, Jen, and she whole-heartedly believes in her company and the quality behind each piece.  I just love that each handbag has a story behind it...and one you get to find out about with each purchase!


4.  Noonday Collection:

Noonday Collection empowers artisans in developing countries to grow sustainable businesses and earn a reliable income for themselves.  You may have heard of Noonday trunk shows or maybe have been to one...their jewelry is so uniquely on-trend...I'm obsessed.  Check out their Fall 2015 collection here.


5.  Sevenly:

A while back, one of my friends turned me on to Sevenly.  They specialize in tees, tanks, sweatshirts, etc. which not only depict a meaningful message, but support various charities.  The causes are varied and plentiful...you'll be sure to find one you can get behind!



6.  The Root Collective:
The Root Collective is a shoe boutique that fights poverty and gang violence through partnering with artisans for a fair wage, as well as giving back a portion of each sale to programs that support these causes.  Their shoes are not only unique, but stylish as well.  How about this striped flat...so cute!!!


7.  Bridgewater Candles:
Can I just tell you how heavenly these candles smell???  I have a car freshener of Bridgewater's and it makes me happy each and every time I get in and turn on the car!  Bridgewater Candles donate to rice bowls for orphans to eat overseas.  I don't know about you, but helping children not go hungry is one of the best causes there is!  (Locally, these can also be picked up at Tiaras.)  



8.  Toms:  
Of course most of us have been familiar with Toms for a while...but I only recently discovered just how far-reaching their efforts can be.  Not only do they actively uphold the "one-for-one" shoe program, but they also give aid with medical eye treatment and prescription glasses (via Toms Eyewear), support water systems in seven countries (via Toms Roasting Company), provide training for skilled birth attendants along with materials needed for a safe birth (via Toms bags), and help prevent bullying here in the U.S. (via Toms backpacks).  I love my Toms wedges!



Which ethically conscious brands are YOUR favorite???

First Day of School Family Traditions


The first day of school is always a blur of excitement, rush, and nerves...and yesterday was no exception.  If anything, it carried a bit more weight than the usual first day of school...for two reasons.  One, our oldest has been homeschooled the past year and a half.  Putting her back in public school is a choice we are confident about, however, I still had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I walked out of her new classroom yesterday.  Big feelings, people.  And second, our youngest daughter started kindergarten yesterday.  Thankfully, she has the same kinder teacher the other two have had, so I know she's in good hands.  But then...there's just me and the little guy left at home.  *tear*

Okay, enough of my pity party and back to the first day of school business.  We all agree it's pretty exciting all-around...but wouldn't it be awesome if our children remembered those feelings of excitement and just how special each new year was to them?  In our family, we believe strong family traditions do just that.  Associating a repeated tradition (that's probably redundant) with what we hope to be a memorable experience for them, will help etch those memories in their still-developing minds, while also forging stronger family bonds.  Can you tell I'm a big fan of traditions? ;)  So today...the 2nd day of school...I'd like to share our family's first day of school traditions.


First Day of School Traditions:

  • Father's Blessings - In our church, the men hold the priesthood and can administer using that authority and power.  One of the ways they can use their priesthood is by giving blessings...and in this case, special father's blessings.  The night before the first day of school, we all sit and listen while one-by-one, he blesses his children for the coming year.  These are beautiful and personal blessings...and I look forward to it each year!
  • Cinnamon Rolls for Breakfast - This year I was surprised that each one of our kids assumed I'd be making cinnamon rolls Sunday afternoon...they remembered our tradition!  I have a killer recipe that I just love.  (The Pioneer Woman recipe is also a great one.)  Each morning on the first day of school, we have a breakfast of cinnamon rolls (plus some kind of protein) and also make a plate of rolls for each of their teachers to wish them a happy first day of school, too!
  • Official "First Day of School" Pictures - I shared on my photography FB page that this year I started a tradition of back-to-school photos for each of my kids.  These were taken before school started as a remembrance of what they looked like at their respective ages...kind of like a mini photo-shoot off my front porch.  But THEN, there's the real deal.  The "right before you leave" photos taken on the first day.  They're absolute musts.  But what we also do, is take more photos after they get home to do a comparison.  Usually it's just a much sweatier mess that the former, but they get a kick out of it.

>>> What are some of YOUR family's first day of school traditions?  I would love to hear, so please share in the comments!






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My Top 10 Take-Aways from Disney Social Media Moms Conference


Happy Monday friends!!!!  I'm so excited to share with you my experience at the Disney Social Media Moms "On the Road" Conference!  When I first received my invitation to this exclusive event, I pretty much geeked out.  I've blogged quite a bit lately (HERE and HERE and HERE) about my love for Disney, our family Disney experiences, and how I can pretty much talk anyone into going on a Disney Cruise...so to be included was absolutely an amazing honor!


We listened to several speakers...some who worked for Disney Parks (PR and Social Media), as well as some bloggers and notable influencers who imparted their knowledge and experience throughout their media-based careers.  Here's a few things I took away from the Disney Social Media Moms Conference in relation to blogging:

  • Take a cue from Disney and use imaginative story-telling with your blogging.
  • Use a Google Doc to create a live functioning editorial calendar.
  • See the world as a series of questions...and then provide answers.
  • Each platform of social media is a "party" - Focus on a few platforms that really work for you.
  • Every blogger should have a "book proposal" ready, meaning, writing/publishing a book/ebook should be part of every bloggers' future goals.
  • Know your top search terms for your site.
  • Video is EVERYTHING.  From Periscope, to Magisto, to YouTube, to Videolicious...it's where it's AT!
  • Two new platforms to get in on now:  Snapchat and Periscope. {follow me on both at @kristennjansen}
  • Set up two social media handles for cross promotion.
  • Mickey Mouse is a good hugger.  ;)



^^^ Jealous, aren't you? ^^^

^^^ My creds ^^^

^^^ Isn't this SO cool!?  What a creative idea! ^^^

^^^ Shout out to my friend Jennifer!  Loved seeing friends there! ^^^

^^^ Taking photos and taking notes ^^^

^^^ Me and the M-O-U-S-E!  He's just as handsome in person! ^^^


 
A HUGE thank you to Disney Social Media Moms for including me in this fun, informative, and most of all MAGICAL conference!  I had such a wonderful time and look forward to the next one!!!!



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Why We Quit Dance Team

As I sit down to write this post, I have a million things to do today in preparation to send my two oldest off to Maine for the next two weeks...they leave today.  But what is sticking in my mind about sending them off...particularly Tyler Bree...is that she'll be missing dance auditions next week.

On purpose.

You see, we (as in me, Blake, and Tyler Bree) made a conscious decision to not do company this year...which, as one can imagine, was a heart wrenching decision, especially coming off a year that her team won Nationals.  But it is what is best for our family.  I haven't felt the need to explain or go into much detail to other moms/families about our reasons "why" we made this choice...mainly because some don't comprehend why we wouldn't want our daughter to continue something in which she loves and excels. 



But today, however, I think I do want to explain our decision at bit...just in case other families are thinking/feeling/experiencing something similar.  This is how we dealt with it...

In our faith and how we live the gospel, we try our very best to obey all God's commandments.  Not the ones that are convenient or the ones we have a strong conviction about...but ALL of them.  We often fall short (and know that everyone is in a different place in their life/faith/testimony/etc), but one commandment we know we can improve upon is "keeping the Sabbath Day holy".  We do our best to keep Sunday as the Lord's day...to show to Him our love through what we do on the day we've been commanded to treat as holy.  In trying to teach our kids how to live this commandment, they've inevitably pointed out how we aren't doing it as well as we should.  Kids seem to be annoyingly good at that...which kinda makes me proud at the same time.  ;)  They are totally right.


So last year, as we had several competitions and practices on Sundays, my kids brought it up to me and Blake asking if it's okay to do these "other" things on a Sunday...especially when what we're teaching them said otherwise.  It's not about dance competitions...dance is great, our studio is great, and dance is a beautiful and worthwhile activity.  But in my gut...I knew it was good, and maybe even better than lots of things we could be doing on Sundays...but not the absolute best.  I knew that if anything, my kids will do what I do before they do what I say, and I don't ever want to leave any doubt in their minds as to what I believe and how I live the gospel.  (And if I'm being totally honest, this actually had been weighing on my mind for a long while...we just didn't take action on it because she was part of a team that depended on her...which was another lesson to teach, that when you're part of a team, you have to do your part 100%.)

We prayed about the decision we had to make.  On one hand, Tyler Bree loves dance and she's good at it.  How could we quit something that she enjoys and benefits from?  And on the other hand, we knew dance was not the last thing that will come our way in terms of extracurriculars on Sundays.  There will always be games, activities, practices, you name it.  We know this and expect it.  It will be something we deal with throughout raising our children.  But when it came down to it, we knew our family could do better in keeping the Sabbath in the way we had set out to do, which made the decision clear.



In the end, we decided she wasn't going to do team this next year...BUT, she is doing a solo which we are SUPER excited about.  She'll still take dance classes and compete with her solo, so we feel she's still able to do what she loves.  It's a compromise she (and we) were willing to make.  There's one quote I love and it's a great reminder and check of how we are keeping the Sabbath:

"The way we keep the Sabbath Day holy is an outward manifestation of our covenant to always remember Jesus Christ."  -Larry M. Gibson 


>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<


So as I mentioned, Tyler Bree's team won Nationals!!!!!!!  It was bananas!  Her team's jazz routine won 1st place (video below) and the entire company's production routine won 1st place.  I, unfortunately, wasn't able to be there for the finals, but Blake was and said it was amazing!  I'm SO proud of their team and all of their hard work.  Her little team this year was something special...I don't know if there will ever be another team like it.  Such sweet girls, great families, and LOTS of talent and sass!  We feel so blessed to have been part of an incredible group and will cherish the memories for year to come!




Seriously...check out those trophies.  I mean.


And one more thing...

Lest it be misconstrued in the least bit, we have only good and grateful feelings about lessons this decision making experience has afforded our family.  We understand our own beliefs are not necessarily those of others, and strive to not create any sense of judgement with our children.  We respect everyone and the choices they make.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend friends!

Summer Style | 4 Looks For Late Summer

Here we are almost to the last week of July...how we got here, I have no idea.  Has this summer flown by for you too?  All of these fall clothing sales have me thinking cooler weather is just around the corner...but unfortunately for us Texans (and southerners for that matter), we've still got at least 2 more months of heat.  Grrr.

Which means, summer style is still going strong...so if you're in need of some late summer closet inspiration, I've recapped my four summer style series looks from earlier this season.  Check out the separate posts for versatile ways to wear each particular look (and links), plus style tips for taking the pieces into fall!



Monogrammed Maxi Dress >>> Full Post HERE



Flowy Tops >>> Full Post HERE



Palazzo Pants >>> Full Post HERE



Kimonos >>> Full Post HERE

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10 Favorite Finds >>> Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Well my friends, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is in full swing, which means I've had the chance to peruse ALL the sale items several times over and pick out my favorites.  I even went to Nordstrom yesterday to see some of the items in person (for good measure and making my bday wish list).  This sale is the best one all year, of any retailer, hands down.  Do you know why?  Because the pieces on sale are items you're about to need come fall/winter.  They're not last season's has-beens that no one wanted/bought...it's stuff that's on your prime shopping list!  And to have an opportunity to buy reduced priced must-haves for the upcoming season is a gift which just can't be wasted! :)

I've pick out what I deem as my favorites of the sale...both in great deals (see the MAC brush set) and key fall/winter staples you'll get tons of wear out of (see black denim and suede booties).  On a more selfish note, I'm aiming to try REALLY hard this fall to stick to a capsule wardrobe, meaning keeping only a few pieces on rotation that match with each other...so I've added those essentials here too.  I hope you find some pieces to help brighten your day, prepare your fall closet, and help get you through the dog days of summer!  Happy Shopping!


{Simply click on each item to shop}



>>>Nordstrom Sale Picks<<<


1.  Tory Burch Sunglasses // $139

2.  LUSH Tunic // $27.90

3.  Sam Edelman Ankle Bootie // $109.90

4.  Barefoot Dreams Cardigan // $60.90

5.  MAC Brush Set // $52.50

6.  Halogen Slub Tee // $15.90

7.  Kendra Scott 'Dylan' Necklace // $38.90

8.  Michael Kors Watch // $166.90

9.  Triangle Stud Earrings // $22.90

10.  J Brand Black Skinny Jeans // $118.90



Summer's Madness + 4th of July

As I type, I'm realizing this is the first time I've sat at my computer and had a moment to actually blog.  And in reality, I've got WAY too much stuff I need to be doing, but hey...someone's gotta keep this thing up...even if it means checking in only once or twice this crazy summer.

I've been MIA for a while mainly because I haven't been around.  When I say this summer is crazy, that's actually an understatement...and if anyone likes to exaggerate, it would be this girl.  Today we leave for Tyler Bree's dance national competition in Dallas, from which I'm coming back early to shoot a wedding and then leaving for Mexico for a week.  See, told ya.  Summer is nuts, but in the best way possible...we're making memories!  My mantra has been: Focus on today, don't worry about the madness tomorrow.

I only got a few 4th of July pics on my phone, but here they are nonetheless.  We had a lovely day with family, friends, and fireworks!  

// This was her 2nd...or 3rd. //

// Making 4th of July cards //

// His first sparkler! //

 // Hometown fireworks with friends //

// Jansen jumping pic...their favorite //

// basically the hit of their day...ALL. DAY. LONG //


Hope you and yours had a wonderful Independence Day!  I'll be posting soon about the wonderfulness that is the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale...cardholders' get to start tomorrow!!!!  TTFN!


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