Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dressember Days 30 + 31: The Recap, The Outtakes, The Lessons

While Dressember has officially ended, donations may be given through January 31. If you feel called to give, please visit my challenge page,

When I first decided to participate in Dressember, 31 days seemed like a long time. Now that it's over, in some ways it feels even longer, but at the same time, I can't believe it's already done.

I set out on this journey thanks to a tweet and a well-scripted video. I was intrigued first, then captivated, then sold, and underneath it all, heartbroken. This wasn't the first time I'd heard about human trafficking. It wasn't the first time I'd given money to IJM. But it was the first time I did something like this.

I don't normally ask people for money. The last time I did, I was in college and we were trying to collect tuition money for a friend. I know times are tough for many people, many of us get by month-to-month. I don't like fundraising for mission trips because all I can think about are my missionary friends who need the money far more than I do for a simple week-long venture. I always feel sort of selfish.

But this was something different, and I was determined to do it. I liked the challenge aspect, wearing only dresses for the month of December. It was something I could do to raise awareness about the cause. And I liked that the money was going to an organization I have and will continue to support. I didn't really know how far it would go or how much we could raise, but I set a goal that I thought was pretty high, and set off on this adventure.

Outtakes from some of my Dressember "photo-shoots."

I always knew that this wasn't a one-woman operation. I just hoped other people would buy into the mission of Dressember like I had. That would be what would make or break this whole challenge. Would others see the value in it like I had? Or would I just be shouting into the void with nothing in response? I hadn't invested much personally, but I was still worried that this could crash and burn and all that would be listed on the challenge page would be my donation.

Hope is a funny thing, though. It flies in the face of doubt and uncertainty. It burns in the darkness like flame, calling you to focus on it alone. And that's what I did. Day after day, week after week, throughout the month of December, I internally held my breath and hoped for success. There were great days when people gave and I knew we could do this. There were even more days when no donations came in, but I couldn't give up. Maybe we wouldn't reach $1,000, but that was okay. Anything would help.

But now, here we are, at the end and we more than made it. We passed the goal. Together 17 different donations became one big piece of an even bigger number. We joined hands and voices, saying with gifts of money that injustice shouldn't be tolerated in our world. We want something better.

Isn't it funny how much you learn about yourself when you do something for someone else? This whole experience taught me so many things I don't think I would've learned otherwise. Things that only came about as a result of this month, this initiative, and these results. Here are some of the things I learned:

I learned that I can. It sort of feels like Obama's election tagline, "Yes we can." But it's more than just a catchphrase or a collection of words and hopes. Learning that you can do something is empowering, especially in the seasons of life when you're not so sure. Sometimes I question what I'm doing and where I'm going. Life can feel directionless and confusing. Dressember has shown me that I can be successful at new and different things, and I shouldn't skip something just because I might fail.

I learned about making a difference. It's kind of popular to tout that "we can make a difference" but it's true. The thing with changing lives or the world is a lot of times you don't see it. It's like the pebble that makes the ripples, it sinks to the bottom and doesn't see what it's done, meanwhile the surface is changed. We're the pebble. We can't always see or measure the difference we make. Whether it takes decades to manifest itself, or it happens across the world, or it happens after we are gone, we usually miss it.

With Dressember, a lot of us will never know the lives our donations will change. We won't learn the names of the families, see the faces of the children, but we will change lives. We will make a difference. This truth should spur us on in the times when we don't feel like we're accomplishing much of anything. Change and differences happen even when we're not looking.

I learned to take a chance. I usually like to play it safe. I don't risk a lot because I don't want to fall on my face when I fail. It's a pride thing. But if I never take a risk, how will I grow and change and do new things? Dressember wasn't really a risk, but it set an example. It was something totally new and different, outside my comfort zone and beyond my personal experience. Would it have been any less valuable if I had failed or hadn't reached my goal? No way!

So it is with chances in life. Even if we fail at the things we try, we still get something out of it. A lesson, a new direction, personal growth, a friend. We can't let the fear of failure, the uncertainty of the unknown, keep us paralyzed in a state of inaction. How else will we change the world?

Dressember Day 30

For the second-to-last day of Dressember, I decided to style this Loft dress from day 16. I wanted to bring out a few dresses at the end that I had only worn once this month for one last re-style. This time, I paired the patterned dress with the oversize cream cardigan from day 13, plus an off-white scarf. Ponte pants, a belt and boots finished out the look.

Dressember Day 31

Since we met my Dressember goal, I wanted to create a fun party look that would still be work appropriate. I decided to style my floral lace dress from day 6 with a flowy, open-front cardigan from Loft. I belted the dress and added sweater tights and boots for warmth.

Here is my last Polyvore board detailing these looks with the same or similar pieces. Find a collection of all my Dressember style boards here. I wore a total of 14 different dresses throughout the month, restyling all but two at least once.

Dressember Styles: Days 30 + 31

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dressember Days 27 + 28 + 29: What Would You Give?

I have some great news today! As of last night we are 90 percent of the way to the goal I set and have less than $100 to raise! I am always so excited and yet overwhelmed by the generosity of my family and friends. We can do this! We can meet our goal and declare together that slavery and human trafficking cannot, must not continue!

This week, my mind keeps going back to one simple question: What would you give? Imagine a world where a woman who is precious to you was kidnapped, sold into slavery, trapped in prostitution. It could be your sister, or daughter, or mother, or wife, or best friend, or cousin. It could be a woman who means the world to you, or one you can't wait to see grow up, or one you've known all your life. What would you do to rescue them? What would you give?

Thankfully, most of us haven't experienced this. We can't fathom what it would be like, the feelings of helplessness, the crazed desire to be reunited, the longing to see justice served. We go about our days not really considering what is reality for many people who have lost a girl they love. People who would give anything to see their child found, but feel powerless.

If this was you, if you lost someone, no doubt you would empty your bank account to find the one you love. No doubt you would organize searches, make endless phone calls, do whatever it took. But you couldn't do it alone. You would need the strength of many men, the voices of many women, the help of everyone you could find. You would be asking them, "What can you give to help me?" And you would hope they would give as much as they could, and then some.

Now is our chance to answer that question. So many people are crying out, but their voices are not heard. So many need justice, rescue, help that we can give. What can you give? What would you give? What would you hope others would give? I ask you to think about these questions. We are in the final days of this fundraising initiative called Dressember. We are so near the end and so close to the goal. No, slavery won't be gone on January 1, but it will be dealt a blow. How hard, and by how many, remains to be seen.

Will you join us? Will you give whatever you can to a cause so beyond all of us individually, but not beyond us when we stand together? Will you stand with me? If the answer is yes, please click this link to visit my Dressember fundraising page. There will be an option to donate, where you can answer this question: What would you give? Thank you for considering, and if you have already given, thank you for your gift! We will change the world.

Dressember Day 27

Today was one of the colder days we've had this month, so I went with a warmer option by layering with a burgundy pull-over sweater. I paired it with my black Loft dress from days 3, 9, 14, and 22. It does create a somewhat bulky look, but most of the day it was hiding under my olive anorak (included on my Polyvore board from day 11).

Dressember Day 28

Day 28 was also chilly, and since we were going to church, I wanted something that looked nice and simple. I chose my Lauren Conrad sweater dress--from day 2 and day 8--since I hadn't worn it in a while. I paired it with charcoal tights and my berry scarf, along with a necklace I made the day before (pictured below).

Dressember Day 29

Today I decided to find another way to style my olive t-shirt dress from days 13 and 20. This time I paired it with my geometric Loft cardigan from day 4, belted at the waist, and added leggings and knee-high socks under my boots.

As always, here are the details of each day's styles with the same or similar pieces.

Dressember Styles: Days 27-29

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dressember Days 23 - 26: The Final Countdown

With only four days left in December, the final countdown to the end of Dressember is on! These last few weeks so many of you have given to the cause and I am so grateful. As of writing this post, we are $144 away from the $1,000 goal I set. Can you help me meet this goal? If I can raise $36 a day, the goal will be met on December 31! Let's do this and finish strong!

It's easy to give, plus it's tax deductible! All you have to do is visit my Dressember page and click the big "donate" button. All donations are secure and your money will go toward rescuing victims of slavery and violent oppression through the work of International Justice Mission.

If you've already given, will you please share this post or my page with friends or family who may be interested in the cause? This challenge has proved that Dressember is not a one-woman show. It takes many strands to make a strong cord, many voices to speak for truth and justice. Now is the time to rally all those who believe in fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves. Together, we can accomplish much!

Dressember Day 23

I don't know why, but lately all I've been wanting to wear is black dresses. I guess I'm reaching the end of my creative rope or something. For day 23, I styled a simple black dress (that I think was actually intended to be a beach cover-up, but who can tell?) with my cobalt blue cardigan from day 10 and day 15. I added my H&M animal print scarf as a way to participate in this week's Coast to Coast meets Dressember challenge.

Dressember Day 24

On Christmas Eve I felt like getting festive with this red Express cardigan from day 16. I put it over my lace dress from day 18 and paired it with black ponte pants and black suede boots for a simplified look.

Dressember Day 25

We didn't quite reach my Dressember goal by Christmas, so my wedding dress stayed in the closet. Instead I wore my striped Forever 21 dress from days 1, 11, and 17. I didn't do much to style, just added my favorite Loft boyfriend cardi from day 9 and day 21, and leggings.

I can't lie, I also spent a portion of the day wearing this Sevenly tee that benefited Operation Christmas Child. If you don't know about OCC, check out its site. Each year we fill a shoebox for a boy or girl which is delivered by Samaritan's Purse to children around the globe. This year we filled a box for a little boy and discovered that it went to Ecuador. I couldn't pass up wearing this shirt on Christmas day in honor of the cause!

Dressember Day 26

We had the day after Christmas off, so I wanted to wear something comfortable. We also decided to check out the after-Christmas sales at the mall, so I needed light layers. I paired my blue dress from days 4 and 12 with a light blue button-down chambray shirt from Maurice's. I added a thick scarf and leggings from Loft along with a watch I got for Christmas.

Check out the details on these looks with the pieces I wore or similar substitutes.

Dressember Styles: Days 23 - 26

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Gearing Up for the Whole30

The Whole30 is starting soon and I've heard from a lot of friends who have told me that they are IN! I can't tell you how excited I am to do this together! Nick and I are most likely starting on January 2 as we will be having a belated Christmas celebration with my family on the first. It's up to you when you choose to start, sometimes it's easier to keep New Years Day open.

Regardless of your start day, we're about a week away, and now is the perfect time to start gearing up for the Whole30, both mentally and in your kitchen. Mentally it's important to start thinking about what the Whole30 will involve (like no more toast or creamer in your coffee), and why you're doing it. It will be tough at first, so mental toughness is in order!

It helps me to think about the work aspect of the Whole30. It will be difficult, but it's a job worth working on. I will work to get my body back into a place that it needs to be. I'm not just subjecting myself to dietary torture, I'm working on a better me. Find a good mental place now, while times are easy, and go back there when times get hard.

You'll also want to start getting your kitchen ready for the Whole30. That means shopping for Whole30-approved food items and getting rid of restricted items, especially junk food! You'll want to start by planning some meals and shopping for the ingredients you'll need for those meals.

For starters, check out some Whole30-safe recipes I pinned on Pinterest. They include the recipes I've shared here on the blog, which you can also find by clicking this link and scrolling down. On Pinterest, I will make a note in the pin description box of the name of the recipe if needed (some pages might include multiple recipes, not all are necessarily Whole30-safe), and I will note any necessary substitutions to make, should a recipe be just shy of Whole30-safe. Keep checking back or follow the board as I will add to it over time.

It's important to always read ingredient lists and labels carefully when you're on the Whole30. Even so-called "healthy options" may include things like soy or sugar substitutes, or other things not allowed when on the Whole30. It may seem daunting at first, but you will quickly get used to checking for bad ingredients, and learn which brands and items are safe.

These Whole30 downloads are also helpful as they include the program rules and a handy shopping list. Make sure to include snack items on your shopping list, like citrus fruits and veggies that you can take with you on-the-go. Be prepared to spend more money on what may seem like less food, but know that you're investing in better choices for a healthier, happier you.

I'm so looking forward to doing this in a group, some of us together, others farther away. As I mentioned before, I'll be using my blog to chronicle our adventures and share encouragement. I'll also be using things like Instagram and Twitter to share the daily aspects of doing the Whole30, and I'd love it if you did too! If you're participating, please add our group hashtag, #WeDoWhole30 to your posts. This way we can stay connected and check out each others' progress!

If you're a smartphone user, check out the Studio design app for iPhone or Android. It's a photo-editing app with TONS of graphics you can add to your pictures, including Whole30 designs! Check out how others have used the app to chronicle their progress on the Whole30. I use it to do a lot of my design projects, and used it on the icon above.

It's not too late to join us! Send me a message or leave me a comment and let me know if you are in! For local Iowa City friends, I'll be planning some events and meals for us to do together soon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dressember Days 20 - 22: A Last-Minute Gift

Do you know someone who has a heart for the world? Or maybe someone who would love to give to someone less fortunate, but can't right now? How about someone who wants to see human trafficking brought to an end? Or maybe you're looking for a last-minute gift for someone?

Well, here's your chance to honor that person and/or give a great last-minute gift!

Give a gift of any amount to my Dressember challenge in honor of a friend or loved one anytime between now and through Christmas Day. I'll send you a digital card you can give to your friend, letting them know about your gift and the Dressember cause.

It's easy to give in honor of someone and list their name on my page, as well as send them an email message about your gift. Simply click the check-box after inputting the amount and a drop-down will appear. You can then designate "In honor of" and input the person's name and additional information if desired.

Your gift is secure, tax-deductible within the U.S., and goes to the work of International Justice Mission. It's a perfect way to honor a special person in your life, and find a last-minute gift without having to brave the mall! Please shoot me an email if you have any questions!

Dressember Day 20

Day 20 fell on Saturday, so I wanted to style a comfy look for a down day. I paired my olive dress from day 13 with a Lou & Grey cowl neck hoodie, grey leggings and Diba booties.

Dressember Day 21

For church on Sunday I styled my floral dress from day 10 with the burgundy Loft boyfriend cardi from day 9. Since this is a lightweight dress, I like to wear it with something thicker on the bottom, so I chose ponte pants (they're like dress pants in legging form). I topped everything off with boots, a braided belt and gold accessories.

Dressember Day 22

Yesterday I was feeling like a sweater-over-a-dress look, so I put this coral cable-knit sweater from H&M over my Loft dress from days 3, 9, and 14. I can't say enough about a little black dress and its versatility. This has definitely been my favorite dress during the challenge. It's perfect for wearing under sweaters!

Here are the details of these looks with the same pieces I wore, or similar substitutes.

Dressember Styles: Days 20-22

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dressember Days 18 + 19: A Milestone

As of this morning, we are over half-way to my Dressember challenge goal! We're also over half-way to the overall campaign goal!

A huge thank you to all the friends and family members who have given to my challenge! I am honored and grateful to have your love and support. This truly is a great cause and I'm so thankful we can do it together!

I've also extended my donor gift offer. For anyone who donates $25 or more to my Dressember challenge by Sunday, December 21, 2014, at midnight CST, I will give you a unique, hand-lettered, frameable quote, like the one below.

(This gift is contingent upon the donor providing his/her email address--at the time of donation--through which I can contact him/her to obtain a mailing address and preferred quote. For donors who are located within the Iowa City area, I will personally deliver your art to you.)

This art is completely one-of-a-kind, hand-written on premium 110 lb. cardstock with waterproof, light-fast Indian ink. It is not a print. Donors get to pick the quote or verse they want featured on their art. This is just a small way for me to say thank you to those who give of their resources to support the cause.

Want some art for yourself? Click here to be automatically taken to my Dressember donate page. Please make sure to include your email address and leave the opt-in box checked. Also, don't select the "make donation anonymous" box or I will not be able to contact you.

Dressember Day 18

On day 18 I felt like styling a party look because two of our good friends who live on the east coast were visiting. We had plans to go out for dinner downtown and I was pretty excited that they would be here. I styled an older piece, a lace dress from Vera Wang's Princess line, with a leopard print sweater tee from Forever 21. I paired it with Elle ponte pants, ankle boots, and a berry scarf.

Dressember Day 19

Day nineteen actually featured two dresses--one for work and one for a Christmas party--but I only got a photo of my party dress. I found this dress before Dressember started at Ragstock when I was looking for inexpensive seasonal dresses. I paired it with a leopard print Talbot's belt, charcoal tights, black pumps, and teardrop dangle earrings from H&M.

Check out the details of these looks with similar styles on the Polyvore board below.

Dressember Styles: Days 18 + 19

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dressember Days 15 + 16 + 17: News & An Auction

We're now halfway through Dressember, an initiative to raise money for the anti-human trafficking efforts of International Justice Mission. IJM is doing amazing work to save individuals trapped in slavery, like this story from the Philippines.

Participants have been finding unique ways to participate and to offer initiatives to donors. I'm currently offering an incentive as outlined in this post.

Artist Jordan Sabolick is auctioning an 18x24" painting he's created for Dressember, with the proceeds benefiting the individual or team campaign of the highest bidder's choice. So, not only will the winning bidder get a beautiful work of art, but they'll also get to choose a campaign to donate toward. 

There are 13 days left to give toward Dressember and a week until Christmas! Please consider including Dressember and IJM in your holiday charitable giving. There are people who would love nothing more than freedom from slavery for Christmas, and your contribution will go toward making this dream a reality.

To give to Dressember, simply click this link to visit my page. All donations are tax deductible within the United States, and all gifts of $25 or more (by Friday at 6 p.m. CST) will earn donors their own unique hand-lettered art! There's never been a better time to give to this great cause!

Dressember Day 15

For day 15 I restyled my leopard print Forever 21 dress from day five, this time with my cobalt blue cardigan. I layered it with black leggins and topped it off with booties and a chevron charm necklace from Loft.

Dressember Day 16

On day 16 I brought out a summer bustier-top dress from Loft. I warmed it up with Forever 21 sweater tights and a flowy open cardigan from Express. Ankle boots and turquoise earrings from Francesca's finished off this look.

Dressember Day 17

On day 17 I felt inspired to wear a jacket with my dress, so I paired my Loft bomber jacket with my striped Forever 21 dress from day one and day 11. (So here is a third way to style this dress!) I put Forever 21 ponte pants underneath and topped it off with boots and a statement necklace from Loft.

Here's a Polyvore board of these looks broken down with the same or similar items to the ones I wore.

Dressember Styles: Day 15 + 16 + 17

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Personal Death Sentence

Recently I started reading through the book of 2 Corinthians and this verse in chapter one stood out to me:
9 Indeed, we personally had a death sentence within ourselves, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.
It's one of those verses that makes you read it a couple times and ask, what? How do you have a death sentence within yourself? What does that even mean?

The more I thought about the verse, the more beautiful it became to me. I began wishing that I could do the same, have a personal death sentence within myself, because it paints a picture of what trust in God truly looks like.

I think we trust in ourselves far too often. We believe in what we can accomplish, we revel in our successes, we trust in our abilities. It's all about what we can do, until we can't. And then what happens?

In the verse before this one, Paul writes about an affliction that he experiences in which he was completely overwhelmed, beyond his strength, and he despaired of life (verse 8). Isn't that usually when we realize that we need help? When we're at the end of our rope, the end of our strength, we suddenly realize we can't. That's when we look for help.

That's usually when our trust in self gets an automatic death sentence. We don't kill it ourselves, it gets killed for us when we can't succeed. But what would it look like to give our trust of self a death sentence every day, before we could even try?

After reading this verse, I began to long to do just that. To begin each day with a personal death sentence so that I wouldn't trust in myself or my abilities, but in God who raises the dead. Then I would know it was Him. He was the one doing the accomplishing, giving life, working powerfully in me. I could trust in Him before I even began to fail on my own.

I've never seen someone be raised from the dead, but I believe in resurrection. I imagine what it must be like, because I've seen loved ones die. You've mourned, grieved the loss, you know that person is gone. But then suddenly, that person is alive! I imagine myself like Mary at the tomb. She doesn't recognize Jesus until he simply speaks her name. What wonder, what joy, what power!

To believe in the God who can raise the dead is to believe in the God who has power. Jesus overcame death in His own resurrection and now that power is ours through Him. As 1 Corinthians 15:57 states,
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Victory. Life. Power. I would rather rely on that kind of power than my feeble attempts at accomplishing great things on my own.

I want 2 Corinthians 1:9 to be my life verse: death first, death within myself, death that I have chosen for myself. Death so that powerful Life may work through me. So that God, who raises the dead, might accomplish great things through me.
So the one who boasts must boast in the Lord. For it is not the one commending himself who is approved, but the one the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:17-18)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dressember Day 14: Christmas + A Collaboration

Christmas is a time of year marked by giving; giving which is a reminder of the ultimate gift given to us, salvation through Jesus. I've been talking a lot about giving since I started participating in Dressember, an initiative to raise money and awareness to help end human trafficking through International Justice Mission.

In the spirit of giving, I'm sharing some great ideas for holiday gift-giving that give more than once. The items featured on my Give & Give Back board below give back to great people, organizations, and causes.

Give & Give Back: Christmas Gift Guide
Ornament: We Chose You. // Shoes: Toms. // T-Shirt: Sevenly. // Candle: Claro Candles. // Necklace: Sevenly.
Book: Bob Goff. // Sweatshirt: Walk in Love. // Cards: International Justice Mission. // Bag: I'm Me.

One item not included on the board is a gift I'm offering. For anyone who donates $25 or more to my Dressember challenge by December 19, 2014, at 6 p.m. CST, I will give you a unique, hand-lettered, frameable quote, like the one below.  

(This gift is contingent upon the donor providing his/her email address--at the time of donation--through which I can contact him/her to obtain a mailing address and preferred quote. For donors who are located within the Iowa City area, I will personally deliver your art to you.)

This art is completely one-of-a-kind, hand-written on premium 110 lb. cardstock with waterproof, light-fast Indian ink. It is not a print. I didn't include it on my gift board because I can't guarantee delivery by Christmas. However, if you are local, I may be able to get your art to you by December 25.

Want some art for yourself? Click here to be automatically taken to my Dressember donate page. Please make sure to include your email address and leave the opt-in box checked. Also, don't select the "make donation anonymous" box or I will not be able to contact you.

Dressember Day 14

Day 14 was a little different style-wise than pretty much every day before it, thanks to a Christmas party at our church's youth group! So, this is one way to wear an ugly Christmas sweater, Dressember-style. ;)

I wore my simple black Loft dress from day 3 and day 9, check them out for two other ways to style it. I paired it with leggings, boots, and this gorgeous sweater from Ragstock. And then topped it all off with a Santa hat, of course.

Dressember Blogger Collaboration

Through this wonderful thing called Dressember, I've had the pleasure of getting to connect with some other bloggers who are also participating in the challenge. We're all hoping to change the world through this campaign, and we love using our blogs to let the world know what we're up to.

I think again of this quote from the Dressember Foundation:

"Dressember is both an opportunity to advocate for the inherent dignity of others AND a chance to step into a creative + collaborative attitude that flies in the face of one of competition + comparison. We believe we are better when we join forces, when we get creative with what we have, and use it for good."

I'm so happy and excited to join forces with these women and turn our blogs into places to share what we're doing and why we're doing it. Dressember is about dignity, femininity, freedom, justice, and collaboration. I invite you to meet, and check out the blogs and fundraising pages of these fantastic ladies!

Beyoutiful Hope is an ethical fashion and faith blog. It features ethical, sustainable fashion, lifestyle, and travel tips through the lens of a sister in Christ.

Beyoutiful Hope's Dressember Fundraising Page

Cozy Reverie is an art and style blog. It features Amy Watkins's personal style, original artwork, and occasional adventures in sunny Southern California.

Cozy Reverie's Dressember Fundraising Page

To Live Beautifully is an inspirational blog about focusing on the uplifting and the beautiful things in life. Started by Kynley Michal as she sought after a happier and healthier perspective on life with posts about life lessons, fashion, beauty, decor, and local explorations around Denver, Colorado.

Tea n' Hunny is a poetry and lifestyle blog. It features Safra Bacchus as she relays cultural fashion, emotional experiences, and her struggles as she tries to pursue her goals. 

Tea n' Hunny's Fundraising Page

Styled by Laurajane is a personal blog featuring Laura's outfits, photography work, and occasionally reviews of various ethical fashion companies. A lot of the posts revolve around Noonday Collection, the fair-trade jewelry company that Laura is an independent ambassador for. 

Styled by Laurajane's Fundraising Page

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dressember Day 13: It's Bigger Than a Dress

After I first decided to participate in Dressember, I started going through my closet to see which dresses I could wear throughout the month. As I was rummaging through my closet, I came to the last dress hanging there in a cloth bag. My wedding dress.

I haven't touched my wedding dress since it went into that bag. But after I saw it hanging there, I started thinking about how I could make it a part of Dressember.

I came up with the idea of wearing my wedding dress on Christmas day, but I felt like I needed a reason to wear it. So I made it an incentive; if my donors and I could reach my overall fundraising goal by Christmas day, I would wear the dress.

Christmas is in 10 days, which means we have 10 days to raise $640 and reach the $1,000 goal. But it's not really about the wedding dress, or any dress for that matter. My hope was to find a creative way to encourage friends and family members to join with me in supporting something I believe in.

I believe that every that every human life is sacred and special. This belief affects a lot of things I do, things I support, and things I don't support. One of the things I do support currently through Dressember, and have supported in the past, is International Justice Mission. It's an organization with a heartbeat for the sanctity of human life.

If you believe like I do, will you join with me in helping to fight injustice in the world? Your gift to Dressember will help to bring freedom, justice, and restoration to people who desperately need it. It doesn't have to be grandiose, or more than you can afford. Any amount will go toward the good work that IJM is doing.

If you want to give, come on over to my Dressember fundraising page. If you're still thinking about it, check out the page for more info, or some of my other posts on Dressember. Thank you for considering supporting this cause! Together we'll change the world.

Dressember Day 13

For a comfy-cute look on day 13, I paired an olive green t-shirt dress with an oversize beige cardigan, both older pieces from Target. I paired them with leggings, a plaid scarf, a braided headband and circle stud earrings, all from Loft. To finish everything off I added a pair of cowboy boots.

Here are the details on this look with some of the same pieces I'm wearing or similar substitutes.

Dressember Styles: Day Thirteen

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Dressember Days 10 + 11 + 12: Another Story

A few days ago the Dressember Foundation shared this story of rescue from IJM with participants. Sometimes victims are rescued more than once, and I love that IJM doesn't give up. The fact that they choose to keep fighting makes me so glad to be supporting them.

Have you been considering supporting Dressember? I know this time of year can be a tough one financially, but you don't have to give above your means. Even a few dollars can help to change a life. So far Dressember participants have raised over $200,000. Whatever amount you give will help grow what has already been given and encourage those who have yet to give.

If you want to give, or you're still not sure, please check out my fundraising page for more info. As always, I would love to talk with you about this if you have questions. You can also check out this post, in which I answer the questions I'm most frequently asked about Dressember.

Thanks for considering supporting this cause, and for supporting me; I couldn't do it alone!

Dressember Day 10

On day 10 I brought out a new dress for the month so far, but it's one that I've had for years. I guess I'm kind of a pack rat when it comes to clothes, but when you find something good, it's hard to let go. The dress, belt (which has been making lots of appearances this month!), and boots are all from Target. I like to pull out the blue flowers in the dress, so I paired it with a cobalt blue Forever 21 sweater. To keep warm, since this dress is pretty summery, I put Elle ponte pants underneath.

Dressember Day 11

On day 11 I brought back the striped Forever 21 dress from day one. I layered dark gray leggings underneath and for a pop of color, added a berry scarf. I did some Christmas shopping at the mall on this day, so I just threw a light olive jacket from Loft over top. (It's not in the picture, but I included it on my Polyvore board below.)

Dressember Day 12

Day 12 featured another restyle with the navy dress from day four. I guess I can't get away from the open cardigans with this dress because I paired it with an Aztec-print sweater from Ya Los Angeles. For warmth I added my gray Forever 21 sweater tights and boots.

Here's the Polyvore board of shopable looks that are the same or similar to the items I wore.

Dressember Styles: Days Ten, Eleven + Twelve

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Coming Soon: The Whole30 Returns

Graphic created with Studio.
We're getting together our biggest group of friends yet to participate in the Whole30 and we'd love for you to join us! It's 30 days of good, clean eating; a diet cleanse to help reset your system, weed out what's hurting you, and start fresh.

What better way to kick off the new year than with a new you?! And let's be honest, a 30-day-long resolution is a lot easier to keep than a year-long resolution.

What's the Whole30?

Find out everything you want to know about the Whole30 on the official program website. It's the place to start. It explains the diet (a 30-day cleanse), the reasoning behind it, and what it will help you accomplish.

This isn't the official program site, this is my personal blog. I'll be using it as a place to chronicle our adventures, share recipes, and facilitate group support and encouragement. (See step four on the page I linked to above. If you do the Whole30, you will need the support.)

Why should I do the Whole30?

You shouldn't do it just because we're doing it or because someone tells you do. You should first, do it because you want to, and second, decide that you want to do it for yourself. Maybe that sounds like the same thing, but it's important to want to do it because you want to help yourself.

If you're looking for more reasons, check out some testimonials. Here is a post I wrote after completing my first Whole30 in 2013. You can also read comments from health experts and testimonials from people who have done the Whole30.

If I participate, what do I have to do?

Like any diet or program, there are dos and don'ts, things you can eat and things you can't. The great thing about the Whole30 is that you get to eat. It's not a juice fast or a scam program. You get to have real food, good food, during the Whole30.

You can dig a little deeper and find the rules on the Whole30 site, but simply stated, it cuts out dairy, sugars/sweeteners, grains, legumes/beans/peanuts/soy, alcohol, and MSG/sulfites/carageenan. Also, participants are instructed not to weigh or measure themselves for the duration of the Whole30. (Personally, I like this rule. Delayed gratification is a good thing.)

If you want to do the Whole30 with us (a collective of friends in the Iowa City area), and you're local, we'll definitely be doing some meals together and encouraging each other along the way. If you're not local, get in on the action through my regular blog posts. You can check back here throughout the month, or (even easier!) sign up for email updates and get my posts automatically. Just put your email address the "Follow by Email" field in the sidebar and never miss a post!

What happens after the Whole30 is done?

The Whole30 liberates participants from the tyranny of processed, over-sugared, unnecessary items we have come to call food. It shows us how we can survive well on good, wholesome foods, and feel amazing in our bodies.

So after it's done, it's up to you what you want to do. (Although the program does have a great list for you to complete.) You can keep doing the Whole30 if you really like it, or you can do a modified version.

One really great thing you can do, as recommended by the program, is reintroduce the foods you weren't allowed to eat during the Whole30. You remain on the Whole30 while reintroducing the "disallowed" food groups over a period of 10 days. This way you can see how certain foods affect your body/sleep/etc.

Want more?

You can find lots of information on the Whole30 site, and in the book "It Starts With Food." You can also check out blog posts about the Whole30 written by my friend Cami. She's how I first heard about the program and she has completed it multiple times. You can also leave questions for me in the comments, check out my past posts about the Whole30, or contact me.

You in?

If you decide you want to participate, let me know! I would love to talk details with you and add you to the list of participants. It's my goal to weave a strong support group, share delicious food and recipes, coordinate hang outs/work outs, and make this an enjoyable experience for all of us. Comment below, talk to me, or shoot me an email. Let's do this!
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