Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Time and again, many of the causes I feature on my blog prove that one person can make a difference.   I am excited to have found another one of those in Chelsea with RagsToRiches4Haiti.

You can read her whole story on her website, but in short, a trip to Haiti in July 2011 captured her heart for the country and the people.  She prayed for ways that she could support some of the ministries in Haiti.  Shortly after, she connected with one of the Haitian translators, Rony, from her trip. He shared with her about 16 children that he had taken off the streets after the earthquake and had been caring for as his own ever since. She kept in touch with Rony and after time and prayer, it became clear that this was the ministry she hoped to partner with. 

At about the same time, a friend sent Chelsea a pattern for a t-shirt scarf and she knew that this was an answer to her prayer.  It was what she would do for Rony's kids (whom you can read more about on her website), and RagsToRiches4Haiti was born. 

You can purchase a scarf from Chelsea's shop on Etsy.  I love that they are made from recycled t-shirts.  They are SUPER reasonably priced, even with shipping.  I chose this white string scarf with pink flower. So what is your part in this story?  When you purchase a scarf from RagsToRiches4Haiti, though you are just one, you will make a difference, just like Chelsea has. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Flipping Furniture

This is a different type of post from my typical entries, but still in the line of being a Conscientious Consumer.  Flipping furniture; it's not a euphemism for me cursing at a dresser, it refers to taking an older piece of furniture and turning it into exactly what you want.  I recently did this with a dresser for my daughter.  We thought it wouldn't be difficult to find her a new dresser at any furniture store.  I was wrong, at least if we didn't want to spend a lot of money. Well made dressers were super expensive and less expensive dressers were cheaply made and still around $500.  But we kept on looking. 

Then I started looking on craigslist.  Nothing older was exactly what we were looking for.  I toyed with the idea of refinishing something.  My criteria though would be that the dresser had to be a super deal for me to put that much work into it and then if I failed it wouldn't be a huge loss.  I found a local listing for a few dressers that might fit the bill and my daughter got on board with the idea, super excited that she could pick a color for the dresser.  The dresser we ended up with was listed for $75 and we paid $50 for it.  It wasn't super high quality but it wasn't junk either.
The dresser in it's original state.
Don't get me wrong, there was A LOT of labor involved, all pretty easy and simple steps, but a lot of steps.   But I love a deal so much and creating something special for my daughter felt good. 

  • First I removed all the old handles and cleaned the dresser.  It was very dirty. 
  • I filled in the old drawer handle holes with wood filler because we were switching to knobs. Then I sanded it lightly to rough up the surface to accept paint.  Tip - if you are doing this a power palm sander comes in handy and saves a lot of time.  There was an area on top that had to really be sanded because of a think layer of grime.  But I knew good preparation would pay off in the end. 
  • Then I wiped it down again to make sure all the fine dust was off.  It was finally ready for paint.  I used Behr premium plus ultra paint plus primer in one in a semi-gloss.  My daughter decided on coral for the color.  I wasn't too sure about such a bright color, but I thought if we put some paint on it and totally hated it we could always go with a different color for the second coat. 
  • Another light sanding in between coats of paint and then a final second coat. 
  • Once it was all dry, I finished it off with a coat of wax and then my husband installed the new knobs. 
This is the final product what do you think?

The finished (or refinished) dresser.
My daughter LOVES it, even though she wasn't sure about the paint color after the first coat.  But it looked a lot different with the second coat and then the drawers put back in. 

How much did I spend?  About $150 in all.  $50 for the dresser then another $100 for the new knobs (about $3 each), paint, wood filler, wax, paint brushes and sand paper.  The cheapest dresser was about $500 so we can safely say I saved about $350, plus sales tax.  That feels really good.  I was exhausted when I finished, but warning it is highly addictive.  I can't wait to start another project like this!

Any questions I can answer about this?  Please comment below and I would be happy to answer!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sole Hope Happenings

There are some great new opportunities to support Sole Hope.  I've already blogged about some of those ways and they are listed here.  Here are two new LIMITED time opportunities.

The first thing is there are only a few more days to take advantage of a SUPER sale over at the Sole Hope Store.  It's Sole Hope's 3rd birthday you see, and to celebrate they are offering 33% off everything in their store with discount code HAPPYBDAY through the end of March.  They have some adorable baby shoes - which makes a great and purposeful gift.  

Second, here is any easy and fun way to donate $10 to Sole Hope. Basically, order a bottle of Cultivate Wine at Macaroni Grill or Ruby Tuesday now through April 7th.  Snap a pic of you with your bottle, then tweet it to  @CultivateWines at @MacaroniGrill / @RubyTuesday to support @SoleHope.

Sole Hope and I say thank you for all your support!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cupcake Kids - part 2

Last year I blogged that we were going to have a Cupcake Kids bake sale.  You can read that post here that explains the WHAT and the WHY of having a sale, but I was not so good about following up with pics of our sale and how it all went.  We are getting ready for our SECOND Cupcake Kids sale this year so I figured it was about time to share some pics and get people thinking about getting their kids involved in this great project this year. 

So many generous people donated LOTS of cupcakes!
The kids had a great time drumming up business from passersby.

We also had BeadforLife Jewelry for sale.

How much money did we raise? To tell you the truth I had to look it up because I couldn't remember. I thought it was like $200. We made $435 for the imprisoned children of Uganda. Selling cupcakes! We sold another $400 in BeadforLife Jewelry. It is not about the money though. I am sure there were bigger sales than ours. It was about getting kids involved in helping out others. It was about raising awareness in our community.

And in that respect it was a big success.

Looking forward to our sale again this year and to change it up a bit we are going to offer baskets made by Ugandan grannies from the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project.   If you are interested in hosting a Cupcake Sale of your own, please visit The Cupcake Kids website for more info. and to register your sale.   Please keep in mind your sale can be as simple as a little table with cupcakes at the end of your driveway.  Every little bit helps and what a great lesson for our kids in giving to others.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

She Does Justice
I have Sole Hope to thank again for finding this great little online shop, She Does Justice.  Each month the shop features an organization and donates 10% of the profits to that organization.  And you guessed it, this month (March 2013) that organization is Sole Hope.  So many cute items to choose from - headbands - (I am loving headbands right now), infinity scarves in pretty colors and patterns, prints and canvases, and bracelets. 

Since I (gasp!) do not yet own an infinity scarf but have been wanting one, that's what I chose, in one of my favorite go-to colors, peacock.   Shipping was $4 and it arrived exactly 1 week after I placed my order.  I wore it 4 days in a row, and received lots of compliments on it.  Now I wish I had more infinity scarves.  They are perfect for untalented scarf tie-ers like me and toasty in the chilly New England spring. 

Whaddya think?
And since I ordered my scarf even more colors and patterns have been added AND a gorgeous hand stitched hoop from fellow Sole Hope Ambassador Natalie Ensor that says "hope". Hope, one of my favorite words. The hoop is only available for the month of March and ALL proceeds from sale of the hoop benefit Sole Hope.  So go, check out the shop at She Does Justice.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Easter Candy

Just a quick reminder to think Fair Trade when it comes to Easter chocolate this year. Not always easy to find, and maybe a bit pricier than the traditional brands (not necessarily cheaper than high end chocolates) but worth knowing that it was not harvested with child and/or slave labor.  As I like to say, speak with your dollars.  If this starts a trend, the companies that do not use Fair Trade chocolate WILL start listening and hopefully change. 

I also think this is a great teaching moment for our children.  Educate them about Fair Trade.  I've taught mine so when I said that their Easter baskets might be filled with Fair Trade chocolates, their answer was an enthusiastic YES!

Check out my previous blog post here and here for ideas on where to buy Fair Trade chocolates and if you have any favorite brands, please share in the comments section. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Good Little Things

It's been awhile since I featured my favorite etsy shops on the blog here.  I continue to love those shops with the addition of a new favorite, Good Little Things.  I love shopping from etsy for the one of a kind items and connections with the artists/crafters.  Those things in itself make shopping from etsy purposeful spending. 

Good Little Things sells beautifully handcrafted, one of a kind shoes and jewelry.  I never would have found this shop though had it not been for the good little things this shop is doing for Sole Hope.  For each $15 flower ring sold, $10 goes to Sole Hope (and we know what $10 means to Sole Hope, but if you don't, that means one pair of shoes to a child in need).  

I ordered two rings, one for my daughter and one for her friend.  And although the rings were custom made, they were completed and shipped to me quickly. 

Sole Hope Ring from Good Little Things.
They also offer a smaller ring,
which I think is just adorable. 
I may have to order one of those too!
Truth be told, even though I ordered this for my daughter, I have been wearing this ring a lot too!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


"Fashion that takes a stand for freedom from human trafficking" - reads a caption on the home page of the International Princess Project.  Human trafficking enslaves large numbers of women and young girls in the world today, even in our own United States.  In India it is a huge problem.  I feel far removed from the issue but have a compelling desire to help in any small way possible. 

Purchasing a pair of Punjammies is a super easy way to help.  The International Princess project employs women formerly enslaved in prostitution to make Punjammies.  When you purchase a pair of Punjammies, you are doing so much more than getting a pair of pretty pajamas.  You are providing a living wage (not a sweat shop wage like those in India that have made the headlines lately) and physical and emotional after-care for women fleeing enslaved prostitution. 

So now you know why it is a good thing to purchase Punjammies, here are the technical details.  There are many wonderful and unique fabrics to choose from.  When you move your cursor over a  picture, it will say a.) what sizes they are made in and b.) how many of each size left  These aren't mass produced so don't expect unlimited supplies in every style and size.  Of course, I LOVE that. 

There are 3 styles to choose from, the Full (long length), capri and mini (shorts).  I am tall so I went with the long length. The size chart provided is excellent in deciding which size to order, as are the details about the type of fabric and if you can expect them the shrink or not.  As with ordering any clothing online, just make sure you read all the info carefully to make an educated decision about your purchase. 

Shipping was $6.93 for my order.  I ordered mine on the larger side and have washed my Punjammies in warm water and dried them and haven't noticed much shrinkage.  They are soft and beautiful and comfortable.  They even came in a drawstring bag made from the same fabric as the pjs!

The drawstring bag that is the same fabric as the PJ pants.

More information about the International Princess Project as well as links to purchasing Punjammies can be found at: or to go directly to the Punjammies shopping page,

Please share in the comments if you have purchased Punjammies and which style you selected. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fair Indigo

Made in the USA.  It's a rare find these days, especially when it comes to clothing.  I am amazed that even high end expensive clothing is not Made in the USA.  If I am going to pay more, shouldn't it benefit the worker that made it not just the designer or corporation?  Well, that's how I think anyway.  And apparently, it's how the folks at Fair Indigo think too.  And also like me, they think that should be true whether it is workers here in the U.S. or workers in Peru or any other country.

I ordered a long sleeved t-shirt from Fair Indigo.  It is Made in the USA.  On their website, it is clear where the items are made so no surprises.  The shirt is sized well (no "slimfit" paper thin t-shirt) and soft organic cotton.  I was worried about it shrinking so although I washed in warm on a normal cycle, I have been hanging to dry.  There has been no shrinking and the shirt is still very soft.  I am on the taller side and was pleased that the sleeves are plenty long as well as the shirt itself (I like a longer teee and this fits the bill). 

Shipping was $6.95 for the shirt I ordered.  And although the tee was pricey, consider that maybe instead of a handful of cheaply made t-shirts, 1 quality t-shirt is a better option.

A lot of people say they wish they could buy products made in the USA.  If you really believe that then Fair Indigo is a great place to start that trend.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Equal Exchange

If you have kids in school or even just know any school aged kids you probably get sick of the endless fundraisers.  As an active PTA parent, I know these are annoying but a much needed way for schools to raise money for field trips and other things that are considered "extras" in times of tight school budgets.  While brainstorming how could we make these more purposeful (cause let's face it, a lot of this stuff is overpriced JUNK) I heard that my daughter's yearly fundraiser was going to be FAIR TRADE and it nearly stopped me in my tracks.  I eagerly volunteered to handle the fundraiser since I feel so passionate about fair trade.  The name of the fundraiser they used is Equal Exchange.  Having never heard of them before I did a little research about them first.  Were they for real?  And yes, they are for real.

Working with Equal Exchange was positive.  There was excellent and responsive communication and they have an easy spreadsheet to talley orders and create your order to the company.  The only difficult thing was that the orders do not come sorted by student seller as some fundraising companies do.  This just means planning for time to go through and sort each order and getting some other parents to come help.

I think a great way to increase sales with this fundraiser would be to partner it with education on what Fair Trade is and why it is important.  Not only may that help increase sales but it may introduce people to Fair Trade that have never even heard of it before.

Some of the items available from Equal Exchange.
So, if you are looking for a fundraiser idea for your group, they are a good option to consider. They sell everything from chocolates, coffee and wrapping paper to unique gift items from Ten Thousand Villages.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sseko Sandals

It's been bitterly cold here in New England as can be expected in January.  I am dreaming of spring warmth and wearing sandals.  My feet are securely bundled under socks and slippers or boots 24/7.   Then last week Sseko, whose sandals I've been wanting to purchase for awhile now, tweeted that they were having a Pre-spring (I like that word, sounds so much more hopeful than winter) Sale and I couldn't resist.  Perfect!  That was all the motivation I needed to finally place an order. 

So what makes Sseko sandals purposeful?  They employ girls in Uganda during their 9 month break between high school and University so that they can earn money to go on to become whatever they dream of becoming, a doctor, lawyer, teacher.  Can't get much more purposeful than helping someone fulfill their dreams. 

I ordered the Allya sandals, this is how they arrive.

Tying them up is simple with the included instructions. 
The details - I ordered the Allya sandals.  The great thing about Sseko sandals is that the straps can be replaced or interchanged and tied in many different ways, the possibilities are endless.  You could even make your own straps, but Sseko has plenty of fabrics to choose from if that's not your thing.  Shipping was $5.95.  I placed my order on a Thursday and they were in my mailbox on Monday!  Now that's fast - especially since they came from California all the way to New England! 

I'll spare you the pic of my winter feet in them.  Head over to Sseko's website for professional photos, more info and some shopping.  Take your dreams of spring and help someone else's dreams come true.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Light Gives Heat

This post was meant before Christmas. I've had it mostly ready to go but then I got sick and this organization is just too good not to share, so, better late than never!  Here goes:

Charity doesn't work, work works.  That is the concept behind Light Gives Heat.  And I must say that although I hadn't heard of Light Gives Heat before I started this blog on purposeful spending that this was the concept that prompted me to change my spending habits and start sharing what I found.

Light Gives Heat is a non-profit based in Colorado that employs local artisans in Uganda, giving them a source of income.  

Combine that with my heart for Uganda and ordering products from Light Gives Heat seemed a given.  It only became a question of what. The choice was only made difficult by the beautiful selection they offer.  I admit, I selfishly selected Christmas presents for ME, but hey it's for the blog and it helps lift families in Uganda out of poverty so it's all good right?

Love the beautiful paper beads strung at the opening of the purse -
these always catch people's eye and admiration.

I chose a purse and handed the package right to my daughter when it arrived and said "this is what you are getting me for Christmas, just confirm if it is pretty or not."  Her response, "You will love it!"  And I do.  Not just because it's pretty, but the story of the woman that made the purse is printed on the inside. I enjoy showing that to people that admire my purse!

Casual and stylish!
I also ordered the slouchy women's sweatshirt.  It is casual, comfy and I LOVE artist Patrick Maxcy's design. 

The multi-strands of this necklace are already done for you,
taking all the guesswork out of how to layer them. 

And as a Black Friday special I received a multi-strand paper bead necklace that is just gorgeous.  The necklace was in a beautiful box.  I not only love their products, I love their marketing and design style. 

So yes, Light Gives Heat, it is all good. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Valentines with Purpose

The whole motivation behind this blog is putting more purpose in my spending.  So after Christmas my thoughts turned to Valentine's day and how could this time where we spend lots on Valentines for our kids' classmates that just create clutter and waste, be more purposeful.

I thought it would be great to offer Valentines that help others and of course, being a Sole Hope ambassador, that's the first organization I thought of.  So I headed over to my favorite online printing company and created a little Sole Hope Valentine.  I printed them at my own cost and am offering them for a minimum $1 per card donation to Sole Hope (100% of the money from these goes directly to Sole Hope).

They are standard postcard size and include white envelopes.  The reverse side includes more information about Sole Hope.


Wouldn't they be cute to hand out and raise a little awareness for a great charity and some money for them too?  Please e-mail me at if you would like to order these! 

Here's another idea for a purposeful Valentine.  Equal Exchange, a company that offers Fair Trade items has a 24 pack of Valentine's with Fair Trade chocolates (milk or dark) for $7.99.  Shipping is another $7.50 (or free for orders over $75). 

And lastly, this isn't a pack of Valentine cards, but an idea from a charity called Love146 that works to end Child Trafficking.  How about throwing a party around Valentine's Day to raise awareness for this issue?

Would also love comments on ways to put purpose in your Valentine's day. Please share!