Dedicated to a guy who had True Grit.

...who was my first grade dodge ball Mortal Enemy, who had a kind of chuckle you just don't forget, who was dealt a mighty hard hand.

...who is now resting in those Everlasting Arms.

And a reminder to me, to all of us, to lean into those arms (even when they feel so far away).


Create (yes, you).

Turning over these words from Donald Miller and wondering what would happen--what could really happen--if I, if you, if we took them to heart.

Emphasis mine.

"...And this is how it is with stepping into the role of a creator. Made in the image of God, able to speak something into nothing, able to create solutions to the worlds problems, we stammer about in disbelief, waiting for somebody else to take responsibility for our lives and for the lives we have been given to care for. We are all creators, but too many reject the God-given right to create and instead become consumers, hiding in the safety of some government, some corporation, some self-help philosophy to take care of us. And so why should we be surprised when we turn around and somebody is sitting in our chair, dictating how our marriage will go, how our career will go, whether or not we can have peace with our neighbors? We shouldn’t be surprised. We handed them our authority.

Until we believe we are creators, nothing will change save what some other creator changes for us. We are their servants, the consumers of whatever fate is dictated to us by the bold, be they good or bad."

Full text here.


Stuff that works.

We've been listening to this song a lot lately as a fun family venture brews in the background.

Maybe because we're learning about the stuff you don't hang on the wall.

And also learning about the kind of friends that show up when the chips are down.
Either way, it's hitting home.

What do you reach for when you fall? Here's hoping it holds up.

Enjoy, friends!


Recipe: B-f-f French toast casserole

What's a girl to do when her b-f-fs are flying in for the holidays and overnighting on her ridiculously, hilariously TURBO air mattress and she wants to serve them breakfast?!

Compounded by the fact that neither she nor her dear husband have any confidence in making even the simplest of morning meals (i.e. pancakes)?


Never fear. B-f-f French toast casserole is here! And oh, friends, is it ever easy to please (and you can make it pre-festivities thus no time is taken from reminiscing about weirdo old neighbors who spoke Pirate or how sloooooow a certain b-f-f drank her chocolate milk every.single.meal. or how another certain b-f-f still doesn't know the name of that girl she-thought-she-knew-but-turns-out-didn't or how the other b-f-f got caught ((this-zipper-will-not-MOVE-caught!)) in her Dorothy costume...or just hug and say I'm SO glad you're HERE!!!)

And here it is: B-f-f French toast casserole
***EDIT: This recipe is adapted from here. ***

Note: I hear all you journalism majors snickering in the corner. Naturally, this recipe does not INCLUDE b-f-fs. It merely is meant to be enjoyed WITH b-f-fs. Oh, whatever.

  • 1/2 cup butter 
  • 12 slices bread (any ol' kind you like)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon*
  • 1 tsp nutmeg*
  • 1 tsp cloves*
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
*It's really anyone's guess how much of these were added. My husband is a spice-a-holic. 


The night before:
1. Chunk bread and put in a 9x13 pan.
2. Mix ingredients.
3. Pour mixture over bread in the pan.
4. Top with brown sugar (and more spices if you are a spice-a-holic).
5. Cover and refrigerate.

The morning of:
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Cover with tinfoil (add more spices if you are a spice-a-holic).
3. Bake for 30 minutes.
4. Uncover.
5. Bake for 25 more minutes (should be browned and set).


Fair trade update: The red pill.

A couple weeks ago I decided to dig into this issue of fair trade.

First, I emailed Bjorn and Liana from SweatFree Communities and was delighted to post her gracious, informative response.

In my quest for answers, I also stumbled upon Ethix Merch, which according to their website "creates custom-printed merchandise, made with respect for people and the planet." I was interested.

I found their list of team members and after reading a bit about Aria, I knew I wanted to pick her brain.

I was a bit nervous. She seemed like the poster girl for fair trade and here I am, just wondering is it okay to shop at Target? Can I still ask for Gap gift cards? What in the world is a girl like me supposed to do next?!

And guess what? She wrote back! Not only did she respond, she really dove into my questions and gave me straight-up, honest answers. I enjoyed the information she provided (who knew to differentiate between union made or worker cooperative when thinking fair trade?! Not this girl.), but even more, I truly appreciated her heart and her perspective. I really resonated with her caution to be full of grace towards other and to keep from letting An Issue cloud my view of others. What great advice!

Check out her response below. I think you'll love her refreshing, approachable attitude. And if you're like me, you'll wish you were friends with her. (ALSO, as a total aside, I noticed that Aria's Solidarity Exchange program supports Ben and Jerry's ice cream! Ummm...another reason to eat ice cream?! I can get into this.)

* * * * *

Hi Sara,
Thank you for writing to me, asking these questions, and caring! Kevin, my co-worker and the co-founder of Ethix, would say that you have clearly "taken the red pill" (a reference to the Matrix movie). In other words, you have awareness about the abuses of our current supply chains and you will never, ever be able to make another purchase without wondering how an item came to be made. Fortunately you are not alone! There are many people all over the world working to improve working conditions, environmental standards, and all around rethink the status quo.

I've enjoyed your blog immensely, especially your honest and open style. If I made time to keep a personal blog I like to imagine I would have a similar tone :) I was happy to see Liana's reply and tons of great links! She is definitely a movement leader to pay attention to, (and we're excited to have an interview with her up on our blog in a couple days!). Sorry I have had a lot on my plate and wanted to make sure I had time to think through my response to the issues you raise.

First, I think it's so important to recognize everyone has such unique experiences in coming to the point of "taking the red pill" (to use Kevin's analogy). While I might have had the opportunities to organize outrageous protests and still enjoy marches and the like, I think it's extremely dangerous to take a judgmental attitude that this is somehow better than someone who shops at Walmart because they have had a different life, (though honestly this is definitely something I sometimes struggle with). My sense is that you are very aware of not wanting to come across harshly because you know it's impossible to be "perfect" in an objective sense of the word. This is a rare gift, because I think it allows your views to be heard by people who might often be brushed off by other activists.

That said, I highly doubt I would find your story "boring" - I would actually love to hear more about what first sparked your interest in sweatshops. I only know one other person from Kansas. Her and I worked at a fair trade clothing company in Chicago, and she was in tuned with the issues having studied fashion design there. I'm also really interested in how YOU make decisions as another newly married, 25-year old on a very slim budget :)

Second, here are some initial points as I think about your questions. You'll see that it mirrors the criteria we use for Ethix products more or less:
-I buy union made, or worker-cooperative made whenever possible, because I think this is the best system currently to know real worker empowerment is accessible.
-I buy local products as much as possible. Sometimes this means just "Made in the USA" because there's a better chance labor laws were upheld, but mainly because I know this reduces shipping distances and energy/CO2. Sometimes this means local food from a CSA farmer or farmstand, or food from a local restaurant instead of a chain.
-I buy organic or recycled items whenever possible, and I also try
not to shop (it helps to have a long decision making process to slow you down!). The Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity's Restore are my most frequented spots for household items (they are also luckily in my neighborhood so I'm not driving way out to the shopping mall).
-I buy fair trade when I need things that can't be produced locally- and I try to think beyond the certification to find companies practicing "direct trade" with farmers.
---I also try to consider animals with my purchases- so hormone free dairy, meat from a local farm where I can go see the cows grazing, and very few animal products in general. I haven't purchased leather or fur or down in a very long time. Lots of my friends are vegan, but I'm comfortable with a diet that includes meat for now because my body feels healthier with the protein/fats and less gluten.

I know that some items I purchase will not fit into any of these categories. For example, we recently purchased a house and needed to insulate the attic. I really wanted to hire a local company that used recycled newspaper cellulose that's made an hour away. We were trying to borrow money from a community loan program to complete the project, but it was taking a long time for all the pieces to come together. My dad visited for the holidays and suggested he and my partner take on the project by purchasing cellulose from Home Depot. I felt badly not giving the business to a cool local company and spending money instead at a big box store. I was disappointed the cellulose wasn't made in Mass, though it was made domestically. But doing it ourselves saved about $3,000, and it's done! We're using less gas now to heat our home- and that's awesome. But if someone developed criteria for the "most ethical" choice we should have made in the situation, it very well could have been to wait, borrow the money, and do it more locally...

But we're always going to face these challenging decisions, now that we realize our impact. The best you can do is gather as much information before the deadline for your purchase, and then in some ways I just go with my gut, for whatever that is worth. Sometimes my gut says that I should get a box of Good and Plenty’s - which are anything but ethically made or GOOD for me - but I just eat them and move on :S Maybe soon I'll start a licorice company to sustain my habit in a better way?

I hope this helps give a little insight into my process! And I look forward to continuing a conversation. Please call anytime to chat.

Oh and one last thing- I hope you will consider being a part of our affiliate program, Solidarity eXchange. You can learn more at www.solidarityexchange.com; setting this up is why I first was hired at Ethix, and it's an easy way to help us spread the word so more people have access to ethical products.

take care,

* * * * *
p.s. I know I've been throwing a lot of (awesome!) information at you lately. Next, I'll look further into some resources both Liana and Aria mentioned and report back. Over and out.


On my bookshelf as the snow keeps falling:

1.A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

2. Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell

3. The Good and Beautiful Life by James Bryan Smith

4. Celebration of Disciplines by Richard Foster

5. Real Simple magazine

...and youuuuu?

p.s. Don't let this fool you into thinking that I've been nestled under warm blankets reading and sipping hot cocoa these last few days. No, my friends, instead I have been venturing into the kitchen to experiment with sweet potato soup (Adam) and chocolate croissant bread pudding (me), attempting to "play" (term loosely applied) racquetball, and doing culturally savvy things like watching Sister Act. In case you were wondering. AKA "on my bookshelf" does not mean "in my hands being digested." Not sure why I felt the need to clarify.


Image cred


Won't you be my valentine?

Inspired by the man who married me and who, incidentally, also had a conversation with me regarding our future Saggy Butt Syndrome and Hunch Back Condition then shrugged and said, "Wanna get ice cream?"*

From here.

*Note: We have a great affinity for old people. Please don't judge.**
**Disclaimer: Some of their other cards are uh, rather racy. I just so happened to see this one at Urban Outfitters and nearly died laughing.



Thinking these days about family, memory, legacy.

Sitting cross-legged on the floor listening intently as my in-laws relive the past--faded photographs, bad haircuts, funny faces, old loves all mix together with squeals of delight and deep, heartfelt breaths of, "Oh, look. Daddy looks so happy here. Remember?" And though I am an outsider, feeling somehow connected to it all.

And I get that lump in my throat remembering when I did the same just weeks ago, seeing, for the first time, Grandma before she was Grandma, Grandpa as a farmer (?!)...and understanding both more and less at the same time. Feeling both oh! Oh now, I see! as these familiar faces flesh out before me into living, breathing people who I never fully knew yet knew so well. Tinged with longing and love and if only I was listening just a bit closer.

And pulling memories in with an aching to remember, a fear of letting that fire burn out, a knowledge that this is grief and this is life and this is really happening (?!) and wondering how an emotion so normal, so seemingly understood on the surface can feel so foreign in the midst of it all.


Fair trade update: A place to start.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have started digging further into the issue of fair trade and am excited to share with you what I learned from Liana, the National Organizer at SweatFree Communities.

I emailed Liana with a barrage of questions that basically boiled down to how do I even begin?

And this is what she had to say:

* * * * *

Hi Sara,

Glad to hear that you are asking these big questions.

Here are a few links to some info that you may find relevant:

Shop with a Conscience Guide


On that page you can click the link to read about "our criteria". To see what information we ask from the companies, you can check the application we ask them to fill out.


This is a project for rating companies: http://free2work.org/

We haven't updated our Hall of Shame lately but do check out our ratings at Free2Work, which we are keeping up-to-date as best we can. (Free2Work and SweatFree Communities are both projects of the International Labor Rights Forum, in case you were wondering about the relationship).

Also check these stories from our blog:



You could also check some of our reports:


This is from another organization, but thought you might be interested:


In response to your question about "what can one person do": I think there are many things an individual can do. For one, writing online to educate others is a great thing to do. We also welcome folks to publicize our latest reports and urgent action alerts through blogs, social media sites, etc. You could also do your own investigative research and publicize what you learn. Another great way to be active is through organizing. Our major focus is to encourage cities, counties and other public entities to adopt sweatshop-free purchasing policies for the apparel they buy with our tax dollars (for ex. public employee uniforms). That way the impact is more than just a pair of jeans or t-shirt that you buy -- you can affect bulk purchases and policy.

Let me know if you'd like to chat on the phone.

Best regards,


* * * * *
I encourage you all to check out the above information. Here are my thoughts:

-I have yet to dive into the reports, but I did look into the other sources she mentioned and was so glad I did!

-To be honest, the Shop with a Conscience Guide, while awesome, is not that realistic for me at this time. I support a local store with a similar idea called Ten Thousand Villages and love it!...but right now, I am more focused on mainstream companies and knowing where to buy my groceries, my T-shirts, and other day-to-day items (on a newly married, we-both-work-in-education, budget).

-Really interested in this project.  I've heard murmurings of the Not for Sale campaign and would like to know more, so it was awesome to see that the Free2Work campaign is not only the exact kind of "mainstream company rating system" I was looking for, but is also a joint project between the Not For Sale Campaign and International Labor Rights Forum (learn more about them here). Basically, you search specific products and/or brands and see how/if they support modern-day slavery. It's worth checking out. In fact, in the organic spirit of this project, I think they will be my next contact as I want to know more. So stay tuned.

-This project gave me a chuckle.

-Finally, mostly, this experience so far has been really encouraging thanks to Liana. It's amazing what one person can do by simply responding to one request. In this age of business, it really means a lot to feel valued and it makes me want to dig into this topic even further. So thanks again, Liana!

p.s. For the record, I did also email Ethix Merch and am still awaiting a reply.

p.s.s. If you have any resources that you find valuable, PLEASE share. I would love it.


Fair trade update: Doesn't hurt to ask.

So remember that idea I had right before Christmas?

Well, I decided yesterday it was time to dive in.

I did a bit of browsing online and made a list of several companies I either a) really like and want affirmation that I indeed should support with a clear conscience OR b) feel like I should dislike but aren't really sure if those feelings are rooted in reality.

I covered a large Post-It note with ideas. I intended to pick my five and start researching company #1...but I just couldn't do it. I was too overwhelmed.

I decided to back up and gather more information. But how does one get a grasp on such a far-reaching issue?

Wait a minute, I thought. Why don't I just ask someone who actually knows something about this and let them guide me?

So I did.

I started with SweatFree Communities since I found their information useful when doing light research last December on which companies are currently in the doghouse due to human rights violations.

I emailed the first two people I found on their staff listing:

Bjorn and Liana,

In the last few years, I have been exploring the idea of social justice with respect to consumer responsibility.

I am 25 and have a lot to learn, but I do know that I need to learn more as ignorance may very well be bliss for me, but comes at a great cost to so many others.

I have a humble blog and have decided this year to dig further into this issue both for me and my husband as well as for any of my readers (which mostly consists of friends and family).

You can read more about my simple goals here, here and here. Basically, I have decided to pick 5 companies that I support with my dollar and research them with the lens of workers rights.

However, I could use some guidance. I found your organization online and have used your Sweatshop Hall of Shame as a stepping stone. I appreciate very much what you are doing as it is surprisingly difficult to even begin to delve into this issue with any detail.

What I want to know is this--how do I begin to fight this seemingly overwhelming beast of an issue? I am just one person. I am not rich. I do not have much power. But I do use my money to purchase things on a regular basis. I want to do that more responsibly. It would be my dream to offer a sort of "buy from here, not from here" kind of publication (taken from this book idea) to share with my small sphere of influence. I would like to find both companies to support and to avoid and how to send violating companies the message that their actions are unacceptable.

Where do I begin? Any advice for this novice? How does the common (wo)man fight such injustice on a middle class budget in a practical way?

I look forward to hearing from you and greatly appreciate any advice you have to offer.

Many thanks,


* * * * *

I've never written anyone about an issue like that since the third grade when my class had to write our representative to keep the salamander as the state amphibian (I'm serious.).

Anyway, I was kind of nervous about it. After all, I'm sure there are way more important things on Bjorn and Liana's to-do lists than respond to some random request from a girl like me.

But GUESS WHAT?! I got a response today! I'll share the results tomorrow.

BIG thanks to Liana from SweatFree Communities for doing what she does and for taking the time to engage and really respond and in doing so, restore a bit of confidence and hope on my end. Thank you.

...Got any good questions for me to throw out to the experts? I am listening.



In the words of Donald Miller.  Full text here.

(Resolved emphases and perfectly-placed asterik comment mine.)

"...I’d say this general principal applies to much more than business. Perhaps those deep relationships you long for are all around you, they’ve just not been deepened yet. Perhaps the fulfilling, romantic amazement you’ve been reading romance novels to experience could actually come from that guy snoring* in bed next to you each night.

This year, try focusing on what is already around you, try cultivating the seeds that have been planted, or the plants that are just producing a little bit of fruit. My guess is this will be easier than going out into the rocks to chip away at a brand new garden."

*It does.

...Any themes for your new year?


Recipe: Snow day celebration cookies.

What to do when your husband gets word of snow day #2 and commences dancing (yes, DANCING!) around the living room while you face the grim reality that you will yet again trudge through the slush to work tomorrow (uphill, BOTH WAYS)?

Well, make delicious cookies of course!

Now, friends, don't ever say that I don't love you for these cookies--these simple-sounding delicious treasures--will blow your MIND! SERIOUSLY.

And not only do they taste out-of-this-world good, they look magazine-perfect...a feat I can never achieve!

Bottom line: it made me feel really good about myself even though I chose cookies over the gym. Uhh...mental health day?

Without further ado: Celebratory Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies**

Note: If you did not get a snow day, you obviously get first pick of the batch and can eat as much dough as you want.


  • 1  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1  cup  packed brown sugar
  • 1/2  cup  creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4  cup  water*
  • 1/4  cup  canola oil*
  • 2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
  • 2  large egg whites
  • 1  large egg
  • 12  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 2 2/3 cups)
  • 1  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 2/3  cup  semisweet chocolate minichips
*After mixing the dough, it seemed a bit dry, so I added an additional two T of both canola oil and water. 


1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.
3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.
4. Add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture, stirring just until combined. Stir in minichips.
5. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on 2 baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.
6. Try to eat just one I DARE YOU!

**Adapted from a recipe I found online...unfortunately, I have no idea where! So sorry for not citing properly!

...any recipes I need to try? I'm all ears!


Trend setter.

So, I know I am a total sucker for things like this but there are several reasons I deemed this worthy of posting for the masses:

#1: 3D Printing: blows my mind.
#15: Brigadeiro: I want one. (or five...purely for research purposes OBVIOUSLY)
#16: "Buy One, Give One Away": I like this trend...especially if the given one is given to one in (actual) need.
#25: Digital Downtime: This is why technology scares me...I guess we all need help setting limits?
#31: Electronic Profiling: WHAAAAAAAAAAAA?! Terrified.
#35: F-Commerce: Stupid.
#38: Global Disease, Refocused: LOVE LOVE LOVE. Oh here's hoping...
#43: Ignorance is Bliss: Worth discussing...torn as how this affects social justice versus national security.
#61: NKOTBSB: OMGOMGOMG my inner 90s tween's heart just flipped. Just kidding. (?)

...and that's just (mostly) the first half! Let me know if anything strikes you.

...and happy snow day-ing if you are one of the lucky ducks that can claim such a wondrous occasion!


...For worse.

Life has been tinged in a bit of ugly the last few weeks and while there is never a good time for such a season, it seemed especially bitter during Christmas, the season of supposed joy and merriment.

I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that as I opened a thoughtful "Our First Christmas" ornament, I nearly burst into tears. I don't want to remember any of this mess, I thought.

It was quite easy to get lost in my own fog and while several acts of kindness drew me out from time to time, there I remained, mourning several things, one of which was the loss of a chance to celebrate with my husband following a very busy season.

And I'm not going to pretend to be Suzy Sunshine about everything and there isn't a way to wrap this all up with a pretty bow.

But yesterday as I was walking back from lunch, I was hit with a new insight that perhaps was dancing around my head all along but was difficult to realize before some distance had been made.

And that was this--

As we stood at the altar, we eagerly said yes to a lot of things that we secretly hope will never come.

In sickness? For poorer? For worse? Yes yes yes! ....but surely not to us...

Yet these times do come and if we have made such a promise, it can be sometimes difficult to feel bonded amidst such pain. Because marriage makes things that much more complicated--more obligation, more needs, more hurt.

Yet sometimes, mercifully, this bond is somehow strengthened in the very seasons that seem easiest to tear it apart. And we feel the meaning of sacrifice. Of commitment. Of together.

And in the midst of such gray days, it truly is a blessing to take a deep breath and look over and think well, we may not emerge unscathed but neither will we be defeated.

And hand in hand, our journey continues.


Friendship terminated.

I talk to a lot of people at my job, which is one of the best and worst parts of daily tasks.

I'm not trying to be rude. Most people are pleasant or at least, you know, civil. And if I have enough exchanges with one person over a short period of time, I like to think that we're on our way to being friends for life. (overstatement) ((ish))

There are certainly enough crazies thrown in there to make me want to bang my head against the wall and a few that make me just horribly, utterly sad but that's not the point for today.

All I really wanted to say was imagine my frustration when after two hours, I see in the bathroom mirror a BLUE PEN STREAK ACROSS MY CHIN.


...apparently not.


Ooh la la.

So, we've been married for almost nine months now (!!!) and have yet to put much of anything on our walls.

Besides an insane spring-cleaning itch, I am currently uber-antsy to make our apartment a little more of a home. Tell me I'm nesting I DARE YOU.


I follow several blogs for fun ideas and inspiration and thought I'd share a few that have caught my eye as of late. All of these are available to purchase via one of my faves, etsy.com.

I have actually been working on a few of my own (nothing too fancy, don't get excited), which I'll post sometime soon. Like maybe if they ever grace our walls.

At any rate, these prints have caught my eye so what better to peruse on a winter Wednesday? Enjoy!

Here via here.




Life as a country song.

Oh HEY everyone!

Just typing with trembling fingers in our place WITH NO HEAT! At least it makes wearing my robe indoors less weird. BONUS!

Adam says we're making a memory and will laugh about it later. We'll see. Right now I just want to poke the eyeballs out of the last two weeks. And then make it carry out my Christmas tree with its teeth.

Too graphic? Too honest? My social cues are a tad rusty these days. Which may or may not have led to me totally losing it at the terrible cell phone store of the century. After FIVE visits to your store in a SEVEN-day timeframe which included THREE waits for more than an hour, TWO crappy phones and ONE seriously frustrated new customer (Adam)...and a partridge in a pear tree...yes, PLEASE tell me about that "restocking fee" and your "corporate policy regarding box-cutting." Oh! And what's that you say? Each new customer gains you, sir, a mere $18 so we're really nothing special? FABULOUS. YOU'RE A GEM.

I could go on but I have some consumer complaints to write (oh yes I will!) so to close, I will just say this:

Guess who spent New Year's Eve playing a marathon of this childhood fave and won all three times?!



Shine on.

And he smiled out at us, face gently creased into a well-worn smile, and said:

"She was my lifelong friend and I will miss her dearly."

And we wiped our tears.

He continued, "I spoke with the family and was privileged to be among them as they lit their memory torch and shared many fine moments with her."

And we remembered, torches burning brightly.

He went on, "And I thought I would share with you one little nugget you may not know and that is this--"

And we listened.

"I found our old high school yearbook," he said, "and written beside her photo was one simple phrase that I feel embodied her then, embodied her throughout, embodies her now--

"Anita," he recalled, "the Human Sunbeam."

And we wrapped that around us and tucked it inside our grief and carried it to our corners.

And we miss her.

And she shines on.