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Where to next?

The boys are sleeping.

I'm not sure for how much longer, so I'm going to try to type quickly.

I've been sitting here, thinking about what to do with my fair trade efforts next.

I write once a week, but I really haven't had the structure of time set aside just to work recently. I think summer weekends tend to be quite busy, and since my working time was usually Saturday morning/afternoon (prime get-together/travelling/much-needed family time), my efforts have been kind of squished into the more empty spots of my days.

I know that I cannot change a system that is so often bent on "more for less" on my own. I don't despair over that, but I also am not quite sure where to go from here.

I'd love to host a screening of "The Dark Side of Chocolate," hold a little discussion, provide fair trade chocolate-based snacks, that sort of thing...but who would come ? And where would I have it?

I don't know HOW to change things, but I know that doesn't mean I get to give up.

There is no giving up on something I am passionate about.

Discouragement at times, yes. But no quitting.

I do know that I can make changes to what I do. I know that I can do something to make sure I am gracious and knowledgeable when someone does want to have a conversation about fair trade/small farmers/ workers rights/slavery.

I know that I can try things and fail and try things again.

Not only can but should and need to.

It's about time to try (a few new) things.



This Saturday is my first fair trade event!

I have business cards, a website and a Facebook page (both launch Saturday along with the event), info, helpful friends and family, and more than 1000 samples to give away.

There is a 60% chance of a thunderstorm.

The phrase "Do what you can with what you have (where you are)" (a Theodore Roosevelt quote) is my mantra.

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Hello, Monday

Thank you so much for the questions and comments on fair trade! Those I've received so far have given me some great food for thought. Now I'm pretty sure I have enough material for several articles. Please keep your questions/criticisms/overall thoughts on fair trade coming!

Monday has, once again, arrived a little too quickly. We just love weekends around here!

One way to combat the Monday blues? Think of, list out, plan more things I have to look forward to this week.


Hello, Monday.

Hello, walking with my mom and Nolan to hash out plans for Katie's bridal shower. (I love everything about this- the people in it, the walking, the planning...)

Hello, ordering (lots of!) chocolate for my first big fair trade- centric event.

Hello, Bob Harper Inside Out Method workouts (I'm feeling pretty "tough" lately, and I love it.)

Hello, hair cut! I need one, pretty badly.

Hello, meeting up with a dear friend who I feel like I just can't get enough time with. (She's the kind that is "like a breath of fresh air." )

Hello, extra day off for my hubby, my BROTHER coming home, and Easter egg dying with some pretty fantastic kids.

Your turn! What are you looking forward to this week?


Weigh In: To Trade “Fair” or Not?

I'm currently working on a post about the pros and cons of fair trade (for the new website)

and I'm wondering what concerns/criticisms/questions/praises you have about fair trade.

If you have them, would you share with me in the comments or shoot me an email?

I'd love to hear from you!

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Easter Shopping

As I said I would, I have a few Easter shopping suggestions.

-Divine Chocolate

Mmmm...Have you tried this stuff? Divine Chocolate is 45% farmed-owned. I'm in love with Divine Chocolate for managing to produce a quality product that adds to the quality of life of its suppliers. Read more about the values of Divine Chocolate here.

My pick: The White Chocolate Bar

Runners-up: Dark Chocolate Bunnies

-The Body Shop

The Body Shop sources its cocoa butter from the same farmer-owned coop that Divine Chocolate does. They take care to ethically source other  ingredients "wherever possible." You can read more about the values and goals of The Body Shop here and here.

My pick: Chocomania or Strawberry Body Butter

-Equal Exchange

Equal Exchange is a worker-owned coop that trades directly with small farmers. Their work is helping to build up small farming groups and communities who might otherwise be taken advantage of or wiped out by larger corporations. You can read more about the values of Equal Exchange here.

I recommend their Mint Chocolate Bar or Dark Chocolate Minis.

-Simply Organic Carrot Cake Baking Mix

Simply Organic produces several baking mixes that are fair trade certified, but I think the Carrot Cake variety would be the most fun for Easter (with homemade cream cheese icing, of course.) (I find mine in the "health food" section of my local Giant Food store.) Simply Organic is owned by Frontier Natural Products Co-op, sources ingredients directly from small farmers at fair prices and donates 1% of sales to improve the lives of small farmers. You can download a coupon for $1 off the baking mix here and read more about the values of this company here.

-31 Bits

I wrote about 31 Bits here. I love this company! All jewelry is hand-made by Ugandan woman who are pre-paid at a fair and sustainable wage. 31 Bits also provides programs like English lessons, finance training, and vocational training to its workers to help alleviate poverty and stimulate local economy. Read more here.

-Coco Rabbit Planter

I found this via Serrv, a new-to-me site on a " mission to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide." This particular gift comes from CCAP, a Filipino fair trade organization that has been marketing the crafts of marginalized artisans since 1973.

Do you know of any sources for products that support small farmers and/or artisans? Please share in the comments!


Oh, hey. Easter is coming up.

Can I share a bit of my heart with you? If you read this blog, I'm guessing I can, so...

here it is.

Wandering through, or even passing the candy aisles during Easter (or really any holiday season) often leaves me feeling pretty sad.

I start thinking about how all that festive, sugary, delicious, bright-colored candy got in those aisles, who had to work for it, how young they are, how they are living and how much of all that hard work is going to sell in the name of celebration.

I can't even picture how many kids are involved, and I hate it.

I'm not trying to ruin the holidays for you. I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad. I'm just trying to say...

Maybe we can celebrate better this year.

One of the (many) thing(s) I LOVE about fair trade is that the products tend to be of higher quality than their cheaper versions. You can taste it, feel it, smell it. Fair trade offers a higher quality of life for the producer and the consumer.

"Fair trade" doesn't mean everything purchased has to be certified as such, but it does require some extra thought. Maybe buy fair trade versions of the some common baking products- cocoa, sugar, and vanilla

and then make your own Easter treats like...


Reese's- Style Peanut Butter Eggs

You can even make your own Cadbury Eggs!! via Sarah on Pinterest

Another suggestion?

Go an unconventional route.

I'm 26 years old and my mother still puts together (and hides!) and Easter basket for me. This year, she talked with me about what I might want in it because she knows I'm not a fan of the typical candy. My requests? Nut butter (any kind, so long as it's just nuts and maybe salt) and Larabars (I love these! They contain easily recognizable ingredients, and the ones that contain chocolate and sugar are fair trade certified.)

I'm not sure there's an end to the unconventional treats you could come up with, but a few ideas for kids include:

  • stickers
  • coloring books and crayons
  • a new book
  • stuffed animal
  • finger puppets
  • play dough or silly putty
  • games
  • sidewalk chalk
  • temporary tattoos

And if buying Easter sweets is your thing, I have a post or two coming up on that,too!


I’m Going!

I love Saturdays.

I LOVE them.

Yoga, fair trade work,family time.

[Insert sigh of happiness.]

This past Saturday, I re-discovered The Justice Conference that took place over the weekend. (I was following them on Twitter, but don't remember discovering them in the first place!)  Thoughts of  "I wish I had known about this sooner," followed by "Oh, I guess I did," followed by, "Maybe I forgot because going to Portland would have been WAY too expensive for me" resulted in me following along through hashtags. (You can click here if you want to follow me.)

THE JUSTICE CONFERENCE is a two–day annual event to promote dialogue around justice related issues such as human trafficking, slavery, poverty, HIV/AIDS and human rights, featuring internationally acclaimed speakers, hundreds of humanitarian organizations and dozens of pre-conference workshops. [source]

Conferences are one more thing I love.

I love the refreshment and the challenging that happens when a big group of people with similar but varying passions come together.

I love meeting so many of those people.

I love hearing about issues that get at my heart from people who know much more than me.

It's been awhile since I've been to a conference. The travel, the eating out, the hotels, + the conference fee is just too much for me to handle right now.

But you guys. Next year's Justice Conference is happening in Philly. Philly is close enough to cut way down on expenses AND I was able to get the early bird rate (which is a really, really good rate, by the way.)

So I signed up...and then was immediately was unable to focus on anything else.

I am SO excited.

Do you want to go, too?

Find out more here.

Get early bird rates here.

Maybe I'll see you there?


Courage Project: FAQ

For background info on my "courage" project, see these two posts.

The most frequently asked question I get on my "courage" project is, "so, what do you do?" (Quotations used because, as I've mentioned before, I'm finding that courage isn't really involved in this project at the moment. It was the starting of things that required courage, and after that? None required so far.)

I'm about a month into things, and so far, no website to document the process. People are curious.

I'll tell you that more time is going to pass before I can show you a new website. I think I went into all of this thinking that the site would be the main project, but so far, that hasn't been the case.

On Saturday mornings, I attend a yoga class. I shower, set myself up with some food, a hot drink, and water, and then I work.

"Work" is really not an accurate description because I enjoy every minute, the time flies by, and it is the kind of effort that gives me energy.

So far, my work time means I spend a lot of time gathering information. There is so much information to be found and absorbed. I'm pretty sure there will always be more to be found, and right now, I am a veritable sponge. I conduct interviews. I read articles, news reports, and product information.

I also spend my time planning and researching events, articles to be written, and ways to spread the fabulous-ness that is fair trade chocolate without getting too preachy about it. (I recently gave away 69 Equal Exchange Valentines. It was a super easy project. Assemble Valentines, hand them out, let the chocolate speak for itself. <---it's really good chocolate.)

The website will come. In fact, I'm working on that, too.

But it looks like it will be an overflow of what is already going on, rather than the main event.

So there you have it a snap shot of what I do for a few hours on Saturdays. Are there any questions you're curious about that I left unanswered?

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Hello, Monday

Good morning!

By the time you read this, it's likely I've had my second (or third) cup of coffee.


It's likely I'm looking for a time to slip in a workout

and I probably haven't showered yet.

(I will, though!)

It's likely I don't have a lot set in stone for the day because Mondays are good days to ease into the week if it's possible

but there's lots I'm looking forward to this week, 

like... out Equal Exchange valentines until every last one is gone (although I'm tempted to keep some of the chocolate for myself!)

...going to my nephew's basketball game(s). I haven't seen him since before Nolan was born!

....finishing up level 2 of the 30 Day Shred and moving on to level 3....Yikes. I'm a little nervous, but I can also tell I'm getting stronger. The getting stronger thing is what has me continuing with the shred. I'm a little obsessed with strength these days.

... going for a walk, maybe?! If it's "warm" enough, I'll be bundling both me and Nolan up to enjoy the sunshine while we can.

...another Bikram yoga class and a few more hours to work on my "courage" project. (<--I'm loving this! The hours fly by when it's just me and my computer and my fair trade agenda.)

...oh, and another visit to a local Spanish church. Did I mention that Tim, Nolan, and I are going there? We are. And no, we don't know Spanish (yet), but we're working on it. Getting to know the language, the culture, and the people is something we've been talking about for awhile...we've decided it's time for us to move past the talking phase. (We almost chickened out but are so glad we didn't!)

So that's a bit of my world.

How about you? What are you looking forward to this week?

I'm linking up with Lisa Leonard's Hello, Monday series.


Brag About It

I read a lot of quality material each week.  During that process, I often come across posts that I just have to share with you. Some of them are thought-provoking, some of them are food-related, and some of them are about cheap or free things that are so good I'd almost rather keep them to myself. This week...


In honor of her new site, Jaimie is giving away a pair of Not Even a Sparrow earrings here. Although her site is still in progress, you can still see some of her wares if you check out the Shop section. Absolutely adorable! I used one of her blooms to dress up my pregnancy uniform in this picture:

Jeane' is hosting a 400th post giveaway here just to show appreciation to her readers- so generous! One person is going to win quite the pile of loot. There is jewelry, coffee, hand-crafted cards, and Mrs. Meyers products at stake. I'm almost drooling.

Most of the contents of both giveaways are female-oriented, but guys? Christmas is coming up, and both giveaways are open to both men and women.

Ok, time to shut my mouth about those now. I mean, I do kind of want to win myself ;) .


I'm a fan of Broke Ass Gourmet. Since I'm always interested in saving money and eating great food, this site is right up my alley. I'm particularly interested in trying Poached Eggs over Garlicky Kale.

Heather's Dish posted a recipe for Shredded Brussel Sprouts with Shallots and Roasted Butternut Squash that looks so good to me. If brussel sprouts and butternut squash don't excite you, please head over to her site and check out the final product. You might change your mind. I mean, there is olive oil, balsamic vinegar, shallots and parmesan cheese involved.

Another cooking site I'm a fairly recent fan of is Three Many Cooks. There are recipes and stories to go with the recipes (but posted separately, so if you're not into one or the other, you can just skip it). The most recent post, A Real Grown-up Dinner Party, reminded me of so much of what I love about cooking and sharing meals (and the accompanying recipe- Roasted Sugar Pumpkins with Cheese Fondue- looks absolutely delicious!).

(Does anyone want to come over and cook for me?)


Small Farmers. Big  Change outlines some serious drama going on in the Fair Trade world right now in this post. Currently, it looks like Fair Trade USA is in the process of making their own fair trade rules and making it easy for companies to get fair trade-certified and then go on with production without a whole lot of accountability or fair trade requirements. I'm hesitant to bring this up because I don't want to cause anyone to give up on supporting fair trade. Ultimately, though, I think it's important we all do our research and know who and what we are supporting with our purchases, so...I'll keep you posted as I can.