Tag Archives: Texas

It’s 2018, time to gear up and support a sustainable politician

It’s 2018. We have only 10 months to focus, engage, support and get active in order to flip Congress. Yes, I am putting it out there: I absolutely despise Trump and the GOP. (Don’t waste your time commenting that I am wrong about this, if that is your opinion. There is nothing you can say that’ll change my mind.)

You might not know this about me, but I am not even eligible to vote! I am a green card holder, not a citizen, but since I live in the USA and plan to stay here for the foreseeable future, I am super-duper engaged in the political “game” some people refer to as the democracy of the United States. Power-grandpa Bernie dragged me into it.

Now, my guy for 2018 is Beto O’Rourke.

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He is running against Ted scumbag Cruz and he is so awesome. Beto spent most of 2017 visiting townhalls around Texas to get to the bottom of what Texans need and think. He is not taking any money from Super PACs either. (His voice reminds me of Obama’s too! He has that presidential flare about him.)

I’m not going to write down all the policies and his stands on them, you can read up on Beto at BetoforTexas.com. (Isn’t seeing Ted squirm and get the boot enough reason to vote Beto though?!) Since I can’t vote, “all” I can do is write, tweet, talk and donate to Beto’s campaign.

The cool thing about donating is you can donate to any politician you’d like to see get a chair, no matter where you live in the country. I love Elizabeth Warren (MA) so I support her, and I gave to Senator Doug Jones’ campaign in Alabama last year. He WON. No one thought he would. (Thank you people of Alabama, especially Black communities, for voting and thanks everyone who donated to his campaign!) Beto could have the same thing happen in this “red” state.  Let’s flip Texas!

So what does this have to do with a Not Made in China Challenge and leading a green life? Great question. It has everything to do with it.

Republicans are just not interested in preserving our earth at all (which is ironic since they call themselves “conservatives”). Quite the opposite in fact; the EPA has lost 700 people, Trump wants to deregulate big oil, drill everywhere and loosen organic farming standards. If he “pulls out of” NAFTA he can do more harm than good to small American made businesses who rely on imported parts (a rework is needed, yes, but not a cancellation) and his expensive “Border Wall” will harm Texas in many ways. I am not even going to mention the so called Tax bill. Basically, the current government is working against everything I believe in. They are working against economic and environmental sustainability.

In next year’s midterm election, Democrats need only 24 seats to flip the House and two to take the Senate. TWO.

Political speech over! Go support your candidates!

PS. If you’re busy and don’t want to research candidates, you can contribute by supporting Our Revolution which is a democratic group rallying for progressives in all types of elections, from school boards to senate.

If you’re gonna put a US flag or state on it, then please, make it here.

Nothing drives a “not made in China shopper” crazier than souvenirs and patriotic merchandise made in China. (That is if the shopper in question is not in China shopping for these things, but in for example Texas.)

At a recent shopping outing at HomeGoods (just browsing!), my friend and I ran into this:

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Texas state pride – made in China.

First let me say this, there are things that people buy that kind of have to be imported, sometimes for very good reasons. One example I can think of right now is bamboo. Bamboo is a sustainably harvested plant, very often grown in China and East Asia. It’s durable in use, considered eco-friendly, but doesn’t grow here.

As for the Texas wall art, there is no excuse. Let’s take a second to note what it is made of, namely, some sort of wood, stain and white paint. Hmm, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen these materials in Texas before!

The sad thing is that some proud Texan will fall in love with this simple painting (not sure what to call it really), take it home, hang it and feel good about it. Probably never reading the tag that says made in China on the back.

So, shoppers, read the tag and refuse local pride made overseas!

And makers, if you’re gonna put a US flag or state on it, then please, make it here.

At the end of the day, this is why we need to stop trade agreements like the TPP, folks! What a waste it is to import items we already have (wood, stain, paint, cardboard) all while outsourcing labor and adding polluting transport to our oceans. It should never make economic sense to do so.

Read my take on the TPP (Transpacific Partnership) here and add your name to the petition to stop it here. Right now it looks like there won’t be a vote on the TPP this year, which is great (!), but we still need to campaign against it.

Five fashion statements made in Texas (y’all)

I showed up at Fleastyle Houston a couple of weeks ago in a (made in USA) tank top, old jeans and a pair of sneakers. It hadn’t crossed my mind that an event with “flea” in the name would be a dressy one. But, apparently when there are vintage items and locally made products on display, you should be wearing your trendiest outfit, preferably combined with a few select pieces in light brown leather and high heeled shoes. Acceptable hairstyles include perfect curls, long waves, a high bun or braids. Unwashed hair in a ponytail? Don’t even think about it. (Oops!)

Despite not looking quite the part of someone interested in vintage style, I did get to talk to a number of local vendors and craftswomen about the products they had to show and sell. If not pre-owned, most of the goodies were made right here in the Lone Star State.

Time to finally put together a list of some made in Texas fashion (on my made in Texas blog). Right, y’all?

Here it goes:

1. Newton Supply Co.

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This company is all about them totes and weekenders. Every bag is handmade in Austin and materials are locally sourced whenever possible. My favorite is probably the Texas State tote, made with hand-printed natural cotton canvas, veg-tan leather and brass rivets. So cute! Another cool thing is that Newton partners with a division of the Austin-based Multicultural Refugee Coalition, Open Arms. A non-profit organization assisting them (and other companies) with producing locally made items while empowering refugee women through living wage employment. Prices range from $30 to $250, depending on the style. I wish I needed another tote bag.

2. Kathrine Zeren

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This Houston-based fashion brand is catering to all the wonderful men in our lives. Yes, there are bow-ties made from recycled hemp, vintage handkerchiefs, handmade American leather key chains and organic cotton pocket squares ($32). All made right here from domestically sourced, sustainable materials. Very hip(ster).

3. Folksie

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Folksie is small-batch-fashion for women, men and kiddos, with straight lines, somewhat somber fabrics and a touch of country twang (check out the vests!). All of Folksie’s pieces are handmade in Dallas, one by one, and most are made to order. I’m not sure this brand is for me personally, however the men’s aprons ($95) are pretty darn awesome.

4. Hatton Henry

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Gracefully rustic leather bags in the 100-200 dollar range, is what Hatton Henry offers. Each wallet, tote and clutch is handcrafted (here) in Houston. I’m not sure where the leather is from, but I must say the bags are beautiful. This designer is apparently into helping homeless mutts get better lives too, doing so by donating a percentage of every item sold to a Houston rescue program. So, if you’re one of those people who claim to be an animal lover, yet somehow can justify wearing leather – here’s a brand for you ;).

5. *Leighelena*

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Texas style cuffs and bracelets, handmade in Austin, that’s Leighelena’s thing. Every type of leather (alligator, python, lizard, ostrich) wrist wrap you can think of – they’ve got it. The leather is Italian (I asked) and unfortunately the few vegan options I saw at Fleastyle didn’t feel quite right. I know, I know, this is Texas, there will always be lots of leather, I’m just saying I like more options! The buckle designs are really neat and unique to Leighelena. Priced from $20 and up.

And no, thanks to my shopping challenge, I didn’t get myself anything. Just browsing. Being sustainable.

Go Texas!

All pictures belong to the brands. No ownership intended.

Trust me. I’m somewhat, fashionably, organic.

My sister decided to surprise me with a new statement tee a couple of weeks ago, because she is awesome and this shirt was just right for me. And I promise you can trust me – I am mostly organic.

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I admit that wine, beer, Panera Bread and other inorganic foods do make their way into my body, but I shop organics for myself and my husband, whenever there are options available made somewhat locally. Here in Texas, most veggies are from Mexico.

Studies have found that organic foods contain fewer pesticide residue and antibiotic-resistant bacteria than regular food does. But is it better for us? There are lots of reports on the internet of how organic food isn’t better, stating that studies show no difference in health or chemical levels measured in people eating organic versus people who don’t. I wonder if they were paid by big Agri to report that, because there are also studies proving the opposite, for example that video showing how a Swedish family goes 100% organic – “ekologiskt” – for a period of time and discovers most of the pesticides and toxins disappear from their bodies!

I am not sure what to believe, but my gut tells me it’s better for me.

What I do know for sure, is that organic produce is better for the farmers and the environment! Organically farmed soil has greater microbiological diversity due to crop rotation, cover crops and the use of compost instead of chemical fertilizer. They also use fewer pesticides, better targeted. Where conventional farms use 55% of the budget on pesticides and fungicides, organic farms only use 11%. These practices are great for the laborers too, as they are exposed to significantly less agrichemicals than those working on a conventional farm!

I wrote a bit about organic cotton a couple of weeks ago, in my quest to find the perfect denim, if you are interested in reading more you can do so here.

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Contrary to popular belief, using organic practices in the US does not necessarily mean a better life for the animals. For example, organic milk just happens to come from a cow that is fed organic food and lives on an organic farm. The label doesn’t mean that the cow gets to run outside, eat grass, hang out with its calf when it’s born, isn’t impregnated artificially every year to make more milk or later becomes organic hamburger meat. An organic milk cow is probably just as sad as a non-organic one. (Regulations may be different in other countries though!)

Organic does mean that fewer antibiotics are given to the animals, but I think I have to call that more of a benefit for the consumer than it is for the animals. A miserable life without antibiotics is still miserable. Good thing my new t-shirt only has veggies on it!

Speaking of which, this is a Mexican tee with an American-made print by David & Goliath that my sis found at Bloomingdales. How cool would it have been if the fabric was organic too? I know – a slam dunk! For these pics, I paired my new tee with an old (2013) pair of 7 for all mankind jeans, also made in Mexico actually, and my yard boots.

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Posing in the woods in a statement tee turned out to be great fun! Miss. Shutterluv scouted for locations with good light for future shoots, while I walked around cursing all the plastic waste that had been thrown away in our beautiful nature. Seems people keep forgetting to “not to mess with Texas”! All in all, a typical outing for the two of us :)

Viva organic!

Picture credits: Shutterluv by Ashley

It’s an eco-conscious, shop local, online-edition-only type of Vogue

One cool thing about having a shopping blog is that, if you’re lucky and have awesome friends, sometimes you get to pretend you’re Vogue. Eco-conscious, shop local, online-edition-only type of Vogue.

Let me back up.

What do you do when you write a blog about shopping local, but haven’t bought anything in the last two months? What do you do when buying something for no other reason than to blog about it, would be a CRIME against your sustainable lifestyle?

I’ll tell you what  – you turn to your beautiful and stylish friend, raid her closet for made in USA styles and then go all vogue on her. Yes, ladies and gents, THAT’S what you do.

Mary Beth’s clothes both differ from, yet remind me of my own wardrobe. She is bolder than I when it comes to prints, jewelry and length of shorts (sorry MB, I had to!) but we share the same simple, practical and sustainable approach to shopping.

Turns out, she had so many good looking made in America brands and styles; I had to limit my selection! We met on a Monday and had a very Miranda Priestly run-thru type meeting. (“I don’t know which one to pick, they’re sooo different”.) We ended up with five gorge outfits, representing different companies, looks and seasons. Lots of denim, of course, America’s favorite fabric.

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On left, the tag we’re going for and fall colors on the right

Now, a week later, we just finished the photo shoot and I am so excited!! It has been raining and storming for the last couple of days but this morning the sun decided to come back and warm our backs and hearts (with all that’s going on in the world right now, we needed it).  Ashley (my photographer friend) rocked taking the photos, like always, and I got to stand behind the camera for once. I must say I have a talent for holding the reflector (yeah right!). I couldn’t have asked for a more gracious and lovely model than Mary Beth! I can’t wait to see the finished “roll” of film.

My blogging schedule is full for the rest of the year with holiday posts and other goodies, but come January I’ll be starting a multiple-post fashion series promoting the American made brands Mary Beth wore in the shoot. NEW year – NEW face in the Lookbook (yes!) so stay tuned!

Here’s a sneak peek and some behind the scenes action pictures from the photo shoot – I feel so inspired to write all of this up!

Apparently we all think that ducks are interesting. Their visit totally paused the shoot!
Editor in Chief Anna (that's me) ready to get to work, on left. On right, photo session in action!
Editor in Chief Anna (that’s me) ready to get to work, on left. On right, photo session in action!

Not your average mama’s homemade clothes

I know I don’t put a lot of kids stuff on the blog, simply because I very rarely shop for kids or babies. I am also a firm believer that parents make sure their kids have what they need, so I doubt I need to get them anything for that reason; no random kids’ presents from me coming your way!

Anyway, I came across this amazing lady snooping around some of the pages I follow on Facebook, who has her own sewing workshop in Dallas, “MammaLouise sews”. I immediately contacted her and asked if I could feature her custom-made kids clothes on the blog; and she said yes! This small company of only one dedicated seamstress (Louise) stands for all the things I love in “not fast fashion”; eco-friendly, sustainably made, custom and great quality. Here’s what she had to say:

How did you start your business and why? *** When I was about 10 years old I had a wonderful teacher in textiles, who inspired me a lot. She taught me all the basics of sewing, and when I got my first baby 4 years ago my interest for sewing came back. When he was almost 1 year old, I bought a new overlock sewing machine, which quickly became my best friend! In the beginning I just made hats, bibs and pants, but when my second baby arrived 2 years ago I started to make everything. Now my kids only wear my own designs and it’s so fun!

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These two kiddos of yours – Are they the inspiration for your collections? *** YES! I want to make cute clothes that they can play around in and I test every single design on them first. My idea is that the customer chooses everything how they’d like it, and I “only” stitch it all together. In that way each item is unique and hopefully I end up with a satisfied customer.

Where do you buy your fabrics and how do you decide which ones to use?*** Most of the fabrics I have are from Sweden and Europe. I also let my customers design their own fabric (if it’s possible to get it printed) if they place an order with me to make clothes from that same fabric. I have a lot of custom fabrics that I have designed and printed, which are unique for MammaLouise. The custom fabrics are GOTS-certified.

tygWhat does it mean that fabrics are OEKO-TEX® (like you mention on your webpage) or GOTS-certified?*** OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 is an independent test and certification system for all types of textiles tested for harmful substances – from threads and fabrics to the ready-to-use items that you can buy in the shops.

Only textile products that contain a minimum of 70% organic fibers can become GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified. All chemical inputs such as dyestuffs and auxiliaries used must meet certain environmental and toxicological criteria. The choice of accessories is limited in accordance with ecological aspects as well.

These standards really mean that the fabrics are safe for the little ones and eco-friendly.

Your adorable baby clothes are made to order: how does it work and what’s the waiting time?*** It depends on how much I have to do and how big of an order you place, but I try to be ready to ship within one week.

What’s your favorite thing to make?*** Hard question! Since I have two little boys; I like to make dresses in very pink or girly colors. But, I LOVE what I do, so everything is fun to make!

What are some of your own favorite eco-friendly brands for children’s clothes and accessories?*** Everything that is eco-friendly is GREAT but since my kids only use clothes made by me, I don’t have any favorite brands except my own; MammaLouise :)

If you are interested in having some custom clothes made for your babies; contact Louise directly at louise.wahlin@gmail.com and check out (and LIKE) her Facebook page for more cute pictures and information! She just needs to know what size and what you like, and you can work it out from there. Super convenient!

Prices range from $15 to about $40 dollars depending on what you are looking for. That is so affordable! Isn’t it amazing how a place like Carters or Target will charge almost the same for a bulk order, non-organic, made in China or Vietnam outfit? Imagine the profits they make! Here’s an opportunity to instead, get something very special with that unique European flare (we all want!), without breaking the bank. Yay.

Cuties rocking their mom's designs!
Cuties rocking their mom’s designs!

The very best fishing reels are still made right (here)

I love blogging about “shop local” because my friends keep giving me great ideas for posts.

A good friend from work told me, he had been researching fly fishing equipment and came across an article that he thought I might enjoy. Me? Blogging about fishing gear? Ok! (It does give me an excuse to post this beautiful picture of my husband and some friends fishing!)

Instead of trying to recap something very well written, I decided to include the text as it is in the article. How cool is it that this text pretty much ends with the statement “made right here”?! Very cool and perfect; that’s what it is. Did you know that when you buy US made reels you support the conservation efforts of our waters and fish?

Read on and learn more about how it works and what to consider when you shop for fishing gear.

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By S. Hansen “Magical Light”

“In a global economy less and less people are being sticklers for goods made exclusively here in the US. But there is a very good reason to buy US made reels that very few people know about. The Pittman–Robertson Act was so successful that in the 1950s, a similar act was written for fish. This one was titled the Federal Aid in Fish Restoration Act. As with its wildlife counterpart, the name of this act is generally shortened by reducing it to the names of those who sponsored it, and so it is generally referred to as the Dingell–Johnson Act.

This law stipulates that reel manufacturers must pay 10% of the first sale to the US government. This provides each state valuable financial assistance for fish restoration and management plans and projects. The sticking point here is that for most of the US manufacturers, their first sale is directly to retailers. For reels manufactured offshore, the companies selling import reels have invented very innovative ways to reduce this “first sale” 10% to a much more minimal amount.

So by buying US made reels, you are not only being patriotic and providing more jobs for US workers, you are also helping support our fisheries. The next time you are out fishing, look around you and realize that you and your gear contribute to sustaining the fisheries you love.

That being said, does buying American make sense? Yes and no. Many anglers are looking for the absolute best reel out there, regardless of what it costs or where it is made. Look at car buyers – a lot of successful people are riding around in a Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche or Ferrari because they are generally rated better than anything from our American manufacturers – regardless of the cost or origin. Fortunately for us, most of the very best fly reels are still made right here in the old USA

The article is from yellowstoneangler.com.

Eat Local, Shop Local – Let your t-shirt do the talkin’

I’ve had a huge crush on Locally Grown Clothing ever since I bought their baby onesies for our friends’ baby last year. I’ve been dying to wear an outfit with a statement too! I finally got my act together and ordered a t-shirt online. It was very hard to pick a statement since there are so many good ones, but I ended up with something I am very passionate about; Buy Local, Good food. Yes!

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The confirmation email I got, after hitting that dangerous purchase button, said “Allow up to three weeks for your order to arrive”. This is of course because they make the tees upon order, instead of stocking all versions they offer, which makes perfect sense for a sustainable, small company. I respect the hell out of that.

It turns out, that as a somewhat frequent internet shopper and citizen of 2015, I was not prepared to wait that long. I was getting a little nervous. “You have to call them and check” said both my bestie and my husband, but I assured them (crossing my fingers) “They said three weeks”. Eventually it got here; a teeny, sustainable looking package with a great smelling (yes it was!) navy t-shirt inside, which of course made me love this company even more.

Locally Grown has a great made right here concept (made in Iowa y’all!), soft fabrics and eco-friendly statements: this is right up my alley. Read more about their story here.

Next time, when it’s time to get another t-shirt; I will know that, for once, great things do come to those who wait.

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Photo credits: Shutterluv by Ashley.

We all just need a bit of inspiration and the guts to shop differently

When I first started the not made in China challenge January 2014, I had to re-think my entire shopping pattern. My husband and I were both frequent shoppers at Banana Republic, J.Crew and Coach. I bought my occasional pair of shoes (Michael Kors’ heels and Keds being favorites) at DSW. I came to realize, quickly, that all these stores and brands were practically off limits. At the very beginning, I bought my Juicy Couture soft grey sweats on sale and I thought I would run into more affordable clothes made in USA. Well, at the mall, you just don’t, and so for a long time; I didn’t buy anything at all.

I started to reinvent some of the outfits I already had, but I was still a bit uninspired and tired, though very determined to not give up. Obvious US choices like American Apparel and designer dresses and jeans were a no-go as well, for style or price reasons. Then it happened: I ran into that Richter Co. tee at Whole Earth Provision, and started wondering if there were endless, small American brands yet to be discovered. I started to search online, look in new stores and scavenge the racks (which has always scared me a little – too messy!). Bit by bit, piece by piece, rack by rack – I have become a made in America shopper. I say America and not USA because when it comes to sexy shoes, yes, I need to include South America.

My friend and I have been talking a lot about this topic, and I presented her with the idea to make a LookBook. In other words, make a photo collection of the clothes I have found and bought on this challenge and present them in a stylish way, in order to inspire others to go look for made right here. As a blogger I have a lot of words and as a photographer she has lots of talent, technique and cool spots to pick from, so we headed out to the country side.

One hour, 101 degrees, a few bugs and an exhausted reflector girl later, we had more photos than we would ever need for this project.

Made in USA top, Made in USA sweats, Made in USA bottle, Made in USA arm wrap
Made in USA top, Made in USA sweats, Made in USA bottle, Made in USA arm wrap

I am so thankful to have friends who inspire me, and whom I get to inspire in return. Does she shop made in China anymore? Very rarely! Did she return an expensive, online purchase when she saw the tag? Yes, she did! (See, I am saving her money ;))

Check out the results and get more information about the clothes on my new page LookBook! (I also had a few photos/outfits from before) My plan is to keep adding to it, whenever I have a new outfit to show. Hopefully, there’ll be enough good stuff for a fall shoot later on! (Can’t wait! Another chance to play model!)

If you want to be inspired by beautiful people, laughing children, posing dogs and killer locations, head on over to Shutterluv by Ashley, and like her on Facebook.

That’s a wrap people!!

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The soft & luxurious tee of your dreams

But it’s not a dream – the Richter Co. based and made in San Antonio, Texas, has made it a reality; the softest tee you will ever own. With their soft textiles and low cut V’s, these craftsmen are bringing local back. And it’s pretty sexy.

Poly-Rayon mix, hand crafted, with a variety of styles like crew necks, pocket tanks and ¾ sleeved tees – made in Texas garments are only a click away. And wow, it’s affordable – less than $20!

The verdict: made right (here) heaven.

And I LOVE the tag.

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