Sunday, June 28, 2015

Easy Peasy DIY Halter | Thrifted Summer Floral



Easy Peasy DIY Halter
Thrifted Summer Floral

I thrifted this dress a few weeks ago at Hope's Outlet in Muskegon on Glade Avenue for $2. I have a thing for floral and I knew it would be great paired with browns and blacks...plus red lips! The only problem was that the shoulder straps were driving me crazy...they were slightly loose.
 
Adjusting the straps would have been fairly easy with my sewing machine, but I was feeling too lazy for that...like, "Wouldn't it just be nice to fix this problem in twenty seconds and be laying in a hammock?" kind of lazy.
 
The simple solution? Snip. Cut the straps from the back, and tie around my neck--BOOM. Instant halter. Can you find something similar at the thrift store for a few bucks and give it some new life?



Wavy post-French braid hair and fringy brown peep toe booties added some nice boho flair to this outfit. The cute little Lulu cross body was a $5 clearance item. Merona belt thrifted as part of another dress, from Goodwill. Bracelets and earrings were inexpensive secondhand finds, as well.









Special thanks to my photographer...AKA, fiancé. =)


Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Day My Students Called Me Fat | Talking to Kids About Body Image


^^^Clearly NOT my real body. Because as the kids pointed out, I'm chubby. Duh.

 
The Day My Students Called Me Fat
Talking to Kids About Body Image


It was a day like any other.
 
My morning started at 6:30 a.m. Breakfast, lunch packing, kid dressing, and finally, getting myself ready. Despite popular belief I’m not much of a morning diva; I usually only have about 20 minutes to get myself ready after I’ve taken care of other details, but sometimes I hit the jackpot and nail my “look” in record time. Other days, I just deal with it.
 
On this day in question, however, I felt good about my fast-paced primping. I was donning a cute, thrifted black and white knit dress, paired with some black tights and heels and red lipstick. I gathered my things, dropped my son off to his class and made it to work on time with a hot coffee in my hand and a smile on my face. Success!

 
Feeling “put together” in the a.m. helps me to juggle the wildly varying responsibilities I have at the wonderful non-profit I work for. I wear many hats—PR practitioner, graphic designer, specials teacher—so it’s nice to feel on point and ready for the day. Though I enjoy public relations, writing and web mastering, one of the most wonderful highlights of my job is working with children. I look forward to my weekly music classes (this year marked my 14th teaching season), and my first class of the day was an energetic group of four-year-olds who couldn’t wait to see what music class had in store for them.

 
“You look great today!” one of the teachers exclaimed as they came through the door. “You’re always looking so snappy.” And just as I was relishing that compliment, I heard from the back of the line, “And you’re fat, Miss Chantal.” Another student ran up directly behind the first student, confirming what his friend had observed. 

“You are, Miss Chantal, you’re fat.”

 
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I know—when you hear it,  you wince. This is normally where an entire day can be shot down, into a rabbit hole of “I’m-no-good-ness”; where a person who is otherwise feeling fantastic is suddenly catapulted in to a vortex of self-loathing and physical criticism that lasts for hours, maybe even days. And certainly, the other teachers who were corralling the wily bunch of preschoolers stopped dead in their tracks. It was almost as if you could audibly hear the needle scratching across the record.

 
Despite the looks of horror around the room (even from the kids), it didn't send me in to a sad spiral.
 
“Hmm,” I said to the students. “Let’s come in to the classroom and talk about that.” I gathered the wide-eyed kids around the gathering rug and took a breath, thinking about how I would address this issue.

If you’ve been following my blog, you might have heard about my recent appearance on Muskegon’s 100.9 FM with The Bond Broadcast. In that episode, I was asked how parents or caregivers can handle body image issues. My answers lined up with all of my values on paper, but sometimes it can be hard to follow through with those kind of ideals in the moment, so I wanted to collect myself and think carefully: how could I communicate the dangers of noticing another person’s body in a way that is hurtful, while also expressing love for myself in a non-damaging way?
 
The kids sat around the circle. They had heard. They knew. And they were nervous. I’m sure they thought that there was probably a big, intense diatribe headed there way, about how the child’s comment had “hurt my feelings”.
 
I looked around at all of the precious doe eyes staring back at me and took a breath.

 
“You called me fat,” I said to the student, “I guess my body looks fat to you. And that’s ok.” Silence from the circle. “Bodies are different,” I continued. “Some are big, some are small.” The kids nodded in agreement.

 
“If you call someone fat it’s mean!” A little girl on my right chimed in. “I would tell someone they looked skinny to be nice!” Touché, little one, I though. You’re picking up what society is laying down.
 
“If you really wanted to be nice to someone,” I said to the group, “You could notice something else about them. Maybe they are a fast runner. Maybe they can sing well, or tell funny jokes.” The kids nodded. One boy raised his hand. “I can jump high!” he said.
 
“Right!” I continued. “My body is very fit, too! And I love my body, very much. I’m so proud of my body that I don’t want to hear you say anything negative about it.” The children looked surprised to hear me make this statement, but the idea slowly started to sink in.

 
“It’s okay for you to notice someone else’s body,” I said to the little ones who were shuffling their feet and biting their fingernails in front of me, “But it’s not up to you to comment on someone’s body. Keep what you notice to yourself. And be proud of your body.”
 
The children seemed to understand, but a few weren’t ready to move on from the topic. “But we can say nice things!” they offered. “Sure,” I responded, “If you know for sure it is kind. But most of the time, it’s not up to you to comment on someone else’s body.”
 
There was a moment or two of silence and I smiled. “Who’s ready to make music?”
______________________________________

There's so much I left out of the conversation, but children have short attention spans. I wanted to let the kids know that I valued my body, but I also wanted them to know that it's really not okay to comment on how people look most of the time. I know that includes compliments--but we know that can be a slippery slope. "Wow! You're so skinny!" might not be interpreted the way you think. This is a complex matter that adults don't always get right--let alone children. Of course, most of the time, their motivations are pure. They haven't learned to be facetious or passive aggressive yet.

I won't say that I had the perfect response that day, but it wasn't one that left me with any regrets.

What are you teaching your children or students about body image? Let's continue this conversation below in the comments! 



Sunday, June 14, 2015

Strawberry Rhubarb Lavender Chia Seed Jam



Strawberry Rhubarb Lavender Chia Seed Jam

This weekend, I was lucky enough to have a nice beautiful batch of rhubarb given to me! For a moment I thought maybe I would try a savory recipe with the rhubarb, or something a little off the beaten path. And then I remembered I had ripe berries ready to be used for something--and I couldn't resist. ;) I love cooking with chia seeds (I've posted a chia seed recipe for Spicy Pepper Jam here before), so I thought I'd cook up some jam! As a child, I remember loving the challenge of eating a sour, tangy stalk raw--and the joy of strawberry rhubarb pie. Rhubarb and strawberry are a class act together, no doubt.
 
Still, I wanted to add something exotic in to the mix, and then it hit me--culinary lavender. Oh yes.
 
Check out my finished product--a lovely little fresh spread that has only around 18 calories, 1.3 grams of healthy omega-3 fats, and over half a gram of protein per tablespoon! The lavender taste is very present but not overwhelming--it adds a fancy, perfumed quality to the jam that is just what I was going for. Great on toast, or a muffin...and I can't even imagine how yummy it would be over a scoop of vanilla ice cream or yogurt.
 
Recipe below. Enjoy!
 
 



WHAT YOU'LL NEED

-2 cups of diced strawberries (or any other berry of choice)
-1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb (you don't HAVE to peel your rhubarb, but I did peel mine before chopping to avoid any stringiness)
-Roughly 1 1/3 cup of dried chia seeds
-3 tbsp. dried culinary lavender
-1 tbsp. stevia (or 1 cup of granulated sugar, or another sweetener to taste)
-Additional 2 tbsp. of sugar
-Estimated 2 1/2 cups of water
-Medium Sauce Pan
-Containers to hold somewhere around 32 ounces of jam (I used a 12 ounce jar and two 8 ounce jars, and filled to the brim).

YEILD: A little over 32 ounces, or around 64 tbsp. of jam.
 


DIRECTIONS

Add chopped berries, rhubarb, lavender and sweetener to a sauce pan with enough water to cover them plus a little extra. For me, this ended up being around 2 1/2 cups. Basically, you want to submerge the ingredients and leave a little room for liquid, without your mixture becoming too watery.
 
Bring to a boil and then quickly reduce to a simmer until fruit is tender--it doesn't take long, perhaps 4 minutes or so. Don't boil too long or you will lose the beautiful color in the berries!

At this point, I removed the pan from heat and used a masher to gently mash the ingredients in the pan.
 
I then added the chia seeds to each jar--I used about 1/3 of a cup of dried seeds for the two smaller 8 oz. jelly jars, and the remainder of seeds (around 1/2 a cup or a little more) for the 12 oz. jar.
 
Spoon/pour berry mixture in to each jar and stir well, incorporating the chia seeds. You may need to adjust the amount of seeds you use for each jar if the mixture seems too watery, but you'll need to wait a little while to gauge how thick the jam actually is while the chia seeds "set", or become jelly-like. They will expand and thicken the mixture.
 
After around 10-15 minutes, the chia should have expanded to their maximum thickness, so if you need to add more seeds by the tbsp., you can.
 
Allow the jars to cool before putting in to the refrigerator. Kept in the fridge, this spread should last about two weeks. You can also freeze this jam--but I will admit, I haven't tried that. We usually eat it up rather quickly. =)
 


NUTRITIONAL INFO

Serving Size: 1 tbsp.
Calories: 18
Total fat: 1.3 g
Sodium: .2 mg
Carbs: 1 g
Protein: .6 g
 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Listen to me on The Bond Broadcast: Muskegon 100.9 FM (Podcast Episode Here!)

 

Listen to me on The Bond Broadcast:
Muskegon 100.9 FM (Podcast Episode Here!)
I had a great time talking with Jim and Michael Bond of The Bond Broadcast about everything from my new blog rebranding to parenting with positive body image! Check out the podcast below to listen to the entire show, and make sure to check out Muskegon 100.9's Soundcloud channel! I would love to hear your thoughts on our topics.

How do you talk to your children about body image? And for those who aren't parents, how did your own parents ideas about body image shape you?
Leave a comment below!


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Catch me on the radio Sunday! Muskegon's 100.9 FM at 5 p.m.!

 
 
Catch me on the radio Sunday, May 17th!
Muskegon's 100.9 FM at 5 p.m. EST!
 
 

Tune in to Muskegon's 100.9 FM on Sunday, at 5 p.m. EST (via radio or streaming at www.MuskegonRadio.com) to catch me on The Bond Broadcast, a multi-generational, interactional entertainment radio program with a common-sense approach to parent/child viewpoints on culture and relationships. Father and son duo Jim Bond and Michael Bond will be chatting with me about thrifting, body image, and other interesting topics!

 
I'm excited to talk with them and I hope you'll tune in to hear the show live! If you can't make it on Sunday, I'll be sure to post the stream later on.
 
Happy Friday!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Southwestern Tofu Scramble for #MeatlessMondays--a quick vegan meal!

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Southwestern Tofu Scramble for #MeatlessMondays--a quick vegan meal!

Life has been INSANELY busy lately. My life as a blogger has been trumped by my demanding roles in every other aspect of my life. Finding time for self care (through healthy meals and exercise) trumps just about any other side project or hobby I may have, and that includes my re-branding work (which is slowly moving along) and so many other pots on the backburner. I hope you are taking time to take care of yourself!
 
But, speaking of pans on the stove, one of my ongoing nutritional goals is to ensure that I get my grams of protein in. This can be require much planning and dedication when you are trying to go as plant-based as possible. I am omnivorous--not vegan--but I prefer to eat vegetarian and vegan as much as I can. This is not only for health reasons but also for moral ones. Though I am not yet completely invested in a lifestyle that doesn't include consumption of any animal product, I am able to flow with a "reducetarian" mindset that focuses on the reduction of not only animal products and meat, but also all natural resources--including gas. I'm proud to say I've almost exclusively biked or walked to work for the last month, and though it started with vehicle issues, I'm glad to have begun what I hope is a permanent change for the season!

Life doesn't always have to be "all or nothing"...you can do your best. ;)
 
For our family, this means a happy dedication to "#MeatlessMondays" (click the link to find all of my meal ideas and recipes on Instagram, some of which are picture below).

  
 
It takes a little planning, but when it comes to easy, one pot meals, this Southwestern Tofu Scramble isn't anything complicated, yet it is hearty and a great serving of protein, low in fat, and moderate in carbs. It also packs almost 8 grams of fiber per serving and tastes awesome!
 
Check out the recipe below!

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Southwestern Tofu Scramble

Makes 5 hearty (approximately 2 cup) servings. Prep/Cook time: 20 minutes.

Nutritional Information: Calories per serving: 184, Carbohydrates: 29.5g,
Fiber: 7.7 g, Protein: 13.9 g (this information does not include avocado).

INGREDIENTS:

-(1) 14 oz container of firm tofu (I prefer to use Nasoyu Organic Lite Firm Tofu)
-(1) Can petite diced tomatoes
-(1) Bag of frozen mixed veggies (diced carrots, corn, green beans and peas)
-(1) Can black beans
-Half of red onion, diced
-Cumin, red pepper flakes, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and any other seasoning your prefer to use.
 
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DIRECTIONS:

Dice tofu into cubes. Place large skillet on medium high heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray or lightly grease with your favorite oil. Once the pan is hot, add tofu cubes. Season with cumin, sea salt and other spices. As tofu is browning, dice and add red onion. Allow the two to sauté until onion is slightly softened and tofu becomes browned and marinated well in seasoning.
 
Add tomatoes, frozen veggies, and black beans. Season to taste and reduce heat in skillet to medium. Cover with pan lid and stir periodically until frozen veggies are heated properly and flavors have blended. Cook time will vary but should only take about 10-15 minutes.
 
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Remove from heat and serve with a fresh halved avocado! I preferred to cream the avocado with a little sea salt and garnished my bowl with that, as well as a dash of hot sauce. Other ideas for toppings might include vegan or regular cheese, greek yogurt, or fresh cilantro.

ENJOY!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mindful Grrl


_________________________________________________________________________________________

I've been working...a lot. Behind the scenes!

Some of my readers may not know that I am also a full time student at the moment; having funneled my language arts degree in to a new endeavor (a B.A. in public relations), I have very little free time! In fact, I've been hitting the books hard (4.0 student, thankyouverymuch) and I've also been working full time as a PR practitioner for a non-profit school (where I have been the last 14 years), as well as being a mommy, and planning a wedding! Phew!

Therefore, re-branding seemed like something that was beyond my reach for quite some time. I thought for so many hours about what I wanted to say, who I really am, and how I was going to make the difficult transition.

Without further ado (yet with much to do in the future), I present to you my new blog name:

Mindful Grrl.

Why?

Thrift Trick has been an amazing outlet for me. And it communicates so much of what I still hold steadfast regarding a life that embraces conservation, living within means, and enjoying the things around us that still have so much life. Yet, as many readers have likely noticed, one of my main focuses isn't just being conscious in your spending habits, it is being conscious and confident in your daily life. From what you think, to how you shop, to what you put in to your mouth.

Why is being conscious and confident so important to me? Because it didn't always come easily for me, and it still doesn't.


Part of the idea of consciousness is mindfulness; you must seek to be aware at all times, or things can easily slip away. Every day of my life I feel temptations--from blowing my money on things I don't need, to mindlessly snacking, to shaming or devaluing my own body.  Staying intentional, daily, is something that takes effort and can prove to be challenging, and I want my blog to not only share with you my personal journey in maintaining those efforts, but also, inspire you to take charge yourself (because even if you have already, you still need a cheerleader!).

If you have known me personally for any length of time, than you probably are aware of my support and interest in women's issues, and feminism. A teen of the 90's, I spent many hours in my room listening to riot girl bands and standing up for feminine equality (and racial equality). My egalitarian viewpoints these days are shaped by intersectional feminism, cultural awareness and a readiness to react to the world around me, both politically and culturally. The "grrl" in my new blog name reflects that attitude and is a nod to thinking outside the box as a woman...and a grrl. This is SO important when we begin to have truthful and illuminating conversations about positive body image!

Regarding the blog's actual transformation, please be patient with me as the changes come! I thought for sure I would be done with my renovation by early April, but speaking engagements, radio appearances (more on that soon!) and design work has taken much longer than expected.

For now, know that you will soon notice social network changes, and the new website and blog will be coming soon as well. I hope you will come along with me in this new journey that will bring you more of what you have enjoyed at Thrift Trick, as well as new and more meaningful conversations.

Cheers!

Chantal

P.S. I'm not giving up my outfit posts! Or my thrifting adventures! =)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Dark Floral for Spring: Thrifted Outfit

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DARK FLORAL FOR SPRING:
Thrifted Outfit

Spring has finally arrived in West Michigan. Life has been crazy here; beyond the ever-warming temperatures and budding trees, planning for a wedding, full-time work and full-time college(plus preparation for upcoming speaking engagements and appearances) has definitely hindered my blogging frequency. 

If you've been following Thrift Trick, you know that I've also been preparing for my re-branding (behind schedule, of course)! No matter the chaos, I'm still predictable in my fashion patterns: I always get down with the dark floral in spring. (See this old post, and this one!)

This outfit is 100% thrifted. I feel good about that because I know that, by buying secondhand, I am reducing waste, and also helping to pad funds for wonderful causes such as the rescue mission in Holland!

Dress: Lakeshore Rescue Mission Thrift, Grand Haven
Jean Jacket: Hope's Outlet, Grand Haven
Purse: Dibs on Resale, Muskegon
Boots: Goodwill, Grand Haven

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Gluten Free and Low Sugar Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe!

Pineaple Upside Down Cake

Gluten Free and Low Sugar 
Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe!

Due to some serious tummy distress I've been experiencing over the last year (and really, beyond that) I've recently decided to try and pinpoint any possible food allergies I might have, and I started with gluten. This has been exceedingly tough because I LOVE whole grains, and products made with gluten (such as seitan, which I make from scratch with vital wheat gluten). Also, for those who suffer with celiac or wheat allergy, it can be so frustrating when products have hidden gluten in them (I was definitely bummed about most soy sauces, lots of soups, and craft beer...sad times). Still, it's worth a shot to see if I can cure some of my tummy woes. If this doesn't work, dairy is up next! 

As far as gluten free baked products go, I've tried some that I really like, such as LiveGFree from Aldi (great taste and fabulous price) and Glutino (their pretzels are the best!!). Still, some of the gluten-free products leave something to be desired--that great, chewy texture, or softness that breads, tortillas and other baked goods have.

I was a little nervous, for that reason, to bake a cake using gluten-free ingredients simply because sometimes the texture of things like coconut flour and other wheat-free substitutes can seem too crumbly or pasty to me. Therefore, using other recipes as inspiration, I set out to create my own low fat, low sugar, gluten-free version, and it turned out awesomely! It even passed the gluten-loving eight-year-old boy test. =)

Recipe and directions below! Recipe serves 14. Or you might like a bigger slice...=)

PS--I feel fairly confident that you could sub just one of your favorite gluten free baking flours instead of what I used (as long as you keep the total amount of flour the same), or a different blend (again, same total amount). I intentionally used a blend of flours to create a complex taste with the batter.


 
INGREDIENTS:

--1 fresh pineapple, peeled (I use the core as well, as not to waste) OR about 2 1/3 cups crushed pineapple (you could reduce this amount if you prefer without any repercussion though your cake topping might not be as moist) 
--5-6 Maraschino cherries (optional)
--(1) pre-packaged 1/2 cup serving of natural, unsweetened applesauce (or 1/2 cup either way)
--1 whole large egg
--7 tablespoons of egg white OR an additional 2 whole eggs (will add more calories and fat to nutritional information)
--2 tbs butter (or your favorite fat--coconut oil or margarine, etc.)
--1/2 cup white sugar (or sweetener equivalent of your choice)
--2 tbsp brown sugar (save for pineapple topping)
--1 teaspoon of liquid or powder stevia (which is equivalent in sweetness to 1 additional cup of sugar)
--1 pre-packaged 1/2 cup serving of natural, unsweetened applesauce (or 1/2 cup either way)
--1 tsp vanilla
--1 tsp almond extract
--1/2 tsp salt
--1 1/2 cup coconut milk (or any other nut milk or dairy milk you prefer)
--1 cup all purpose gluten free baking flour (I used Bob's Red Mill, a blend of garbanzo, tapioca and potato flour)
--1/2 cup gluten free baking/pancake mix (I used Krusteaz brand, which is a blend of rice flours)
--1/4 cup coconut flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
--1/2 cup gluten free corn starch (or tapioca starch)
--1 tsp gluten free baking powder (most brands seem to be)
--1 tsp baking soda 
--1/2 tsp salt 


 DIRECTIONS:

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray or grease your pan very well. I used a typical bundt cake pan (that's how mom always did her pineapple upside down cake!) but you can also use a typical 9x13 or 2 round cake pans (you'd need to split your pineapple mixture up differently, so that's up to you!). For these purposes, the directions are geared toward baking in one pan.

Because I used a fresh, very ripe pineapple, my first step was to peel and chop my pineapple in to large chunks. I did not remove the core. I then blended it in the processor, just briefly, to create a crushed pineapple texture. It yielded just over 2 cups of pineapple, which I then set aside.

Next, blend your applesauce, white sugar, liquid stevia, vanilla, almond extract, 2 tbsp butter, whole egg and egg whites. I mixed this cake by hand, intentionally. You could absolutely use a mixer on a typical cake setting, which would lend a lighter and fluffier cake. I appreciated the density of the hand mix on this cake though--it made it moist and a little heavier, which was tasty!

Combine with dry ingredients (all flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cornstarch) while also incorporating the coconut milk. Beat by hand for around 2 minutes, or around 150 strokes. If you prefer to use a mixer, this would be about 1 minute. If your mixture is too thick and not a nice pouring batter consistency, you may want to consider carefully adding more liquid. I do believe that different gluten free flours may change this variable a bit, so use your best judgment.

Pour pineapple into the bottom of your VERY well greased pan. Add crumbles of brown sugar and maraschino cherries if desired (I placed mine in a little pattern around the bundt cake). 
 
Carefully pour cake batter over the top of pineapple, evenly distributing around pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for around 40 minutes (or less if you use two small cake pans), until cake springs back to the touch or a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes. Carefully use a spatula or another tool to gently loosen the sides of cake from pan. Pay special care to this part if you are using a bundt pan. In a quick motion, carefully tip pan upside down on to your serving tray (or, if you prefer, leave the cake "right side up"--who cares!).


We served our pineapple upside down cake with a dollop of whip cream! ENJOY!

NUTRIENT INFORMATION:

Yeilds 14 slices.

Calories: 158 per slice
Total fat: 3 grams
Cholesterol: 19.3 mg
Sodium: 30.6 mg
Carbs: 26.1 grams
Fiber: 1 gram
Sugars: 10 grams
Protein: 2.6 grams 

 



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Two Birch Jewelers: Service and Product Review for Wedding and Engagement Ring Products



Two Birch Jewelers: 
Service and Product Review for Wedding and Engagement Ring Products


My fiance proposed to me with a beautiful, simple white gold solitaire. It was a family ring and amazingly, fit me perfectly without needing re-sizing. Anyone who knows me and my viewpoints on finances and expensive jewelry knows that I was thrilled that our engagement didn't create any sort of monumental debt. I don't subscribe to the idea of expensive jewelry and I'm always shocked in horror when people tell me that they are walking around with a $10,000 ring on their finger--particularly if their other half can't really afford to make a purchase like that! It's not what's important, and statistically, there's a lot of research out there that suggests a little humility might be an imperative thing if you actually want your marriage to last.

With that sort of frugality and sensibility in mind, I set out to find a wedding wrap (or ring guard) that would compliment my engagement ring on our big day. I was also interested in selecting two rings: one sterling silver or white gold that I could wear with silver jewelry, and one rose gold that would work with my bronze, rose gold and regular gold jewelry.

But wait--before you think I'm a total diva--you'll have to reserve judgment. =)

I knew I didn't want to spend much, and the local selection at  jewelers for ring guards and wraps was almost non-existent.

That's where Two Birch came in.





I found both of these rings--the Sterling Silver Contour Ring and the Rose Gold and Sterling Silver Vintage Fan Style Ring (both with Cubic Zirconia) for under $60 each. I viewed the Two Birch site but mainly did my shopping and browsing on Amazon. They are both beautiful! And if you are the sort of person who demands diamonds, you can get any style Two Birch ring for more with diamonds instead of CZ. Their selection of ring wraps, guards, wedding sets and engagement rings is amazing. I personally found their jewelry to be among the most affordable thing I'd found online!






Everyone who has seen my rings is impressed with their quality and luster (I couldn't really capture the sparkle and clarity with my camera!). When I noted my choice of Cubic Zirconia, people said, "You wouldn't even need to tell anyone! No one would ever know!" The quality pleases me, but I want EVERYONE to know...I paid very little for these rings, and they are beautiful! It's OKAY to choose CZ! 

I didn't have to worry about blood or conflict diamonds, and my wedding wrap didn't cost the equivalent of down-payment for a car. I'm saving for home ownership, why would I want to take on debt like that?

The best part about paying very little is the freeing feeling. If I were to lose or damage my rings, it's ok. The world won't end. It's just a ring.








I've saved the best thing about Two Birch for last--the customer service. (By the way, this post is not sponsored by Two Birch--the photos and opinions contained are all my own as a consumer, with no compensation given. They had no idea I was going to review their company in my blog...)


Before I purchased my rings, for $10, I ordered the PerfectFit kit by Two Birch, which came with ring sizers (handy) as well as molding material (very easy to use). This allowed me to send a mold of my solitaire to Two Birch for fitting purposes. The company then took this mold and matched it with different ring wraps, sending me photos along the way, and discussing the fit and different choices I might want to make. Because I really wanted something that would nicely compliment my solitaire and something I would love for--well, hopefully a VERY long time, haha--this took almost a month of sizing, pictures, and I even sent a few rings back in the process.


Dozens of emails and pictures later (I worked with a representative named Maria who was very helpful), I had my two rings--which I adore.


I was thoroughly impressed with the amount of customer service and attention I was given during this time for my purchase, which only totaled $120 all together.

I honestly can't recommend Two Birch enough as a jeweler, particularly for the couple who is trying to make an informed, reasonable purchase for their engagement or wedding. There are affordable CZ and diamond choices, and you can feel GOOD about not breaking the bank.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Who I am: Future Blog Plans and Changes on the Horizon

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” -Marilyn Monroe - See more at: http://exploreforayear.com/clarity/45-inspiring-quotes-change#sthash.mIpcwRJA.dpuf
“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” -Marilyn Monroe - See more at: http://exploreforayear.com/clarity/45-inspiring-quotes-change#sthash.mIpcwRJA.dpu

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” -Marilyn Monroe 
Image courtesy of Fanpop
 
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WHO I AM
Future Blog Plans and Changes on the Horizon

It's hard to believe that I started my blog four years ago.

I had so many vintage and thrifted treasures to share. I wanted to blog about a lifestyle that was centered around reduced consumption, and I loved the idea of sharing vintage and secondhand clothes. I also happened to be PETRIFIED of photographing my body, and I was working through quite a few body image issues, finding my voice, and shifting gears professionally.

While I never found my blog to be vapid in its content (fashion or otherwise), I was afraid to over-saturate my readers with too many posts regarding body image, or life topics that didn't seem to be calibrated for a thrift fashion blog. Slowly, bit by bit, I began to add healthy cooking, and more pieces on image and self-love. I still maintained my love of thrift, and fashion, but the content became a little more heady, and I was glad for that--because I'm a writer, and I love sharing myself with my readers!

Still, sometimes I worried that new readers and Facebook fans would wonder about my blog's name--that perhaps "Thrift Trick" wasn't really an accurate handle for me anymore.  For the last year, though I've very much enjoyed connecting with readers on my website and through re-published content on Grand Haven Tribune and even an interview on NPR, I've felt that my name was a limiting container--something that was keeping me from fully expressing myself.

Re-branding your blog (and essentially your voice) is actually quite an intimidating process. Each time I thought about doing it, a new opportunity for my existing blog would prevent itself, and I would think, "How can I risk stunting this momentum right now? My blog is really starting to become what I've always wanted!" Yet, there was a little voice inside of me that proposed that perhaps my blog's name was actually holding me back.

It's taken me a long time to make the decision, and I'm finally pulling the trigger.

I'm re-branding.

More answers and new changes will be on the horizon, but the most important thing that I'd like to communicate to my readers (and I appreciate EVERY single one of you!) is that my content won't really be changing too much. Here's what you can expect from the new blog:
  
--Thrifting and a lifestyle that promotes reduced consumption
--Healthy cooking
--Fashion and Beauty
--Positive Self-Image
--More interviews, guest writing and street fashion that spotlights real people with interesting stories
--My photography
--The addition of new media (more on that soon!)

The truth is, it's really what I'm doing right now! However, the new blog will be more appropriately named, so that more people who are interested in a conscious, mindful lifestyle can successfully connect with me.

If you are already subscribed to my blog and visit frequently, I hope you will continue to do so once the changes begin. I also value your feedback as readers, and I'd love to hear from you. I will begin applying changes over the next month, and by April, I will have completed everything.

Do you have any questions or suggestions for me? Please comment below--I value your input!





Sunday, March 1, 2015

#BodyPositive February Roundup!

https://instagram.com/p/zdZMzTv2GL

"Because gender and beauty are not defined by hair." @theinlandlyon

#BodyPositive February Roundup!

You may remember last month's #BodyPositive roundup from Instagram, and this month I found some new favorites to add to my February Collec.to folders! Why have I featured these photos here? I found them to be moving the idea of body positivity along with forward momentum, and I love hearing from people about their personal journey with self-image. I'm also including one of my own photos hash-tagged #BodyPositive! Check them out above and below! Also check out all of my #BodyPositive albums on Collec.to!


https://instagram.com/p/zefdzjj3YL
 
"I won't let anybody tell me how i should look or how they'd prefer me to look. I am comfortable in my skin and will continue to be..." @lynsimplymade




"Pounded out 3 super sets of push-ups and planks to Failure, and some HIIT cardio to finish off my workout tonight!"  @thelovelyaphrodite
https://instagram.com/p/za4vdDuhE-
 "#effyourbeautystandards #allbodiesaregoodbodies #everybodyisagoodbody #nobodyshamecampaign #bodypositive #bodylove@wastingthyme

https://instagram.com/p/zfSVR8lFE-

"Amazing new sensations all over my body from yesterday's push up challenge.#strongissexy...#bodypositive" @colecochick

https://instagram.com/p/zdz1nBI0Ns

"#toproll #armwrassle #gunshow #bodypositive" @Channystar

https://instagram.com/p/zekO6QK1k7 

"National eating disorder awarness week : since the age of 10 I've struggled with an #eatingdisorder . From not eating - binging - being sick. I hated myself for a very long time. When weight wouldnt come off I turned to using drugs. I've been nearly every size imaginable. However, I learned to love myself, appreciate life and celebrate who I am. Life is too precious to live & die by your scale. For anyone out there who is struggling : it's never too late to get help, there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. We are beautiful creatures of all shapes & sizes. No one should ever feel ashamed of themselves because of a number. #bodypositive" @velouria.doll


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