Category Archives: Simplicity

Shopping Can Change Lives

Lately my ears perk up when I hear the word “microenterprise.” What is microenterprise? It’s the idea that by giving someone a small amount of capital, she can use the cash to invest in a business that allows her to create a product or service to support her family. Overseas, a microloan of a few hundred dollars can transform lives.

There are tons of organizations out there involved in this work. I purchased my first microloan through World Vision, when brother and I bought presents for our family from the World Vision catalog one Christmas. The big one I know about is Kiva, which has given away $150 million in microloans in just 5 years of business. (Wall Street Journal, 10/22/2010).

The one I think about the most is a microeconomics organization that’s now a part of the Free Methodist Church, called Heavenly Treasures (HT).  We first met the peeps from HT last June at our annual FMC Leadership Summit.  Heavenly Treasures is helping people all over the globe setup their own business to create products which they are selling at conferences, in specialty shops, and online.  On my first visit to one of their shops, I was blown away at the quality of the goods, and went

on to discover that their founder works with the local artisans to help them create products that will appeal to Westerners and thereby increase their earnings.

I think about HT most days, as I carry around this beautiful hippie bag knapsack with an embroidered sequined elephant, through which I invested $20 into the life of the woman in Thailand who created it.  HT’s slogan is, “Every product represents a changed life.”

Anyways, Christmas, the season of giving gifts to loved ones is around the corner, and so I just wanted to give a shout out on behalf of the incredible products at Heavenly Treasures, which you can buy online, and which I’ve found to be both beautiful and high-quality. And the cool part is you can tuck a brochure in with the gift and give your sweetie the knowledge that this gift improved the life of a stranger so much more than and equivalent made-overseas-piece bought from the mall.  Whereas when we shop at Target or The Gap, the person who made that piece is seeing pennies of it, at Heavenly Treasures, 100% of that money is being reinvested in the business that created it.

So, go  check out Heavenly Treasures online and change a life through your shopping this Christmas!  Your friends and family will love you for it, and you’re doing a really, really cool thing.  So.  Go do it.  Right now.  What are you waiting for?  Seriously, go.  *Click*

Running as Catharsis: Running as Worship

I hate running.  Absolutely hate it.  I have friends that run, and they tell me it’s awesome.  Friends and family who run marathons, half-marathons and 5ks and get addicted to it.  Sometimes my friends even write blogs about how awesome running is.  (i.e. Awesome Bonnie, fitness guru, who writes about winter running here.)  All of these romantic notions convince me I like the idea of running.

So one morning (er, like, yesterday) I get tricked into running.  Continue reading

Step One: Organize the Ingredients

When I was little, my favorite book was The Berenstein Bears and the Messy Room. (This is quite unironic given that the carpet in my bedroom was usually covered wall-to-wall with grub, but ironic in the sense that the book actually ended with the bears cleaning their room, which I tended not to do.)

Anyways, I loved the book for the same reason I love Real Simple magazine…because I don’t know that many things are more beautiful to me than colorful labeled containers alphabetized in a pretty row.

Last night, husband took me on a trip to the Skagit Valley Co-op, which is a happy place because it’s filled with colorful labeled containers.  I admit I was slightly sad thinking about taking the plastic bags home and just piling them in the cabinet and rifling through them in ugly disorganized fashion.  But — a miracle of miracles occurred when I witnessed a fellow patron of the Co-op fill a mason jar with freshly ground peanut butter.  I was struck upside the head by the idea to use my empty canning jars for winter storage for my grains, beans and lentils.  No need to spend hundreds of dollars at The Container Store, because for $10, I was able to bring the Co-op home.  I have the same giddy feeling I did everytime I finished The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room.  For $10, you can have this kind of happiness too.

More With Less

I know I must have been engrossed in what he was saying, because I had already forgotten that my pants zipper had broken in the ladies restroom only moments before.  I had already tuned out the energy I was expending pulling the hem of my camisole over the broken zipper while simultaneously pretending nothing had happened.  The brain cells that were focused on projecting the breeziness the evening required were apparently now fully integrated into my autosomatic nervous system.  My full attention was focused on him, on this first meeting, and the conversation at hand.

Continue reading