Christmas Gift Ideas

When TJ and I got married, one of the major differences we realized around the holidays centered around Christmas lists. He could not believe I would send my own mother a list (with links!) of gift ideas. Nothing was more normal to me!

Since then, we casually poll our friends to see if they fall more on the surprise side of gifts, or the list side. I’m still  not sure which way is more prevalent across the board, but I do know “What are you asking for Christmas?” is a very common question among my friends each year.

So, if you’re one of the ones having trouble coming up with ideas for yourself or for the other women in your life, here’s some ideas!

1.Art.

Some of my favorite gifts through the years have been big pieces of art I’ve requested for my walls, and there are always so many fun ideas! This makes a great gift because often I wouldn’t have paid for it myself, but it becomes a very thoughtful gift to remember for years to come. These are some favorites I’ve seen lately:

Cool National Parks print (etsy) // Lindsay Letters fabulous Christmas canvas from her brand new holiday collection // trendy vintage-looking black & white felt board (Letter Folk) // prints & canvases with Scripture (amen paper company)

2. Shoes

Christmas is my favorite time to ask for shoes, because I’m trying to buy less shoes that fall apart after a few months or hurt my feet every time I wear them! Two of my favorite “shoe gifts” I’ve received have been Hunter rain boots and Ugg slippers. Both of these are excellent examples of “investment shoes,” because they are not cheap, but they’ll last forever. Also, if self-care is going to be on your New Year’s resolution list, ask for the amazing Ugg slippers! I’ve also got my eye on these sneakers (seeing them everywhere!), or possibly some warm winter boots, even though I live in Texas.

3. Jewelry

Jewelry is a somewhat easier gift to ask for or to buy for others, but if you need some company picks, here are some of my favorites!

Pretty statement feather earrings (Waterloo Style) // go-with-everything stud earrings (Kate Spade) // high quality made in Uganda beaded bracelets (31 Bits) // hands down the best dainty necklaces (Dear Mushka)

4. Books

Not everyone loves getting books for Christmas, but I sure do! I read mostly via library book these days, but some books double as decorations in my world, making them optimal gifts! I’ve loved to give and receive some of these:

Jane Austen books with beautiful covers (anthropologie) // 365 day devotional + recipes (Shauna Niequist-Amazon) // a cookbook on celebrating! everything! (Jenny Rosenstrach-Amazon) // the story behind the studies (She Reads Truth-Amazon)

5. The Foolproofs

Paper gifts, candles, and the occasional lip balm are always my go-to gifts for friends it seems like. (They also make great hostess gifts!)

Custom designed notebooks with endless possibilities (May Designs) // the world’s most beautiful calendars (use them as art prints around the house later!) (Rifle Paper Co.) // the best and prettiest lip balm I buy for everyone (amazon) // favorite non-volcano candle- french cade lavender is all kinds of brilliant, plus these last for a long time! (anthropologie)

 

Well friends, that’s a wrap! There are tons of fabulous gift guides out on the web right now (including Jamie Ivey’s list from her podcast here), so whether you’re making a list or not, enjoy looking around, and happy gift-giving!

xoxo

Noonday: Most Worn

A few months ago, I shared about my decision to become an ambassador for Noonday Collection. You can read why I made that decision here. As predicted, I’m totally loving it!

Because really, what’s not to love? I get giddy every time I get to share the stories of the Noonday artisans with new friends who have never heard. It’s truly amazing to think that I can help families in the poorest communities of the world earn a living and keep their families together! What a gift!

Oh, and I get to show off their creations every day (!!). It’s a win-win-win.

Now that I’m a few months in, I wanted to share the pieces I seem to keep coming back to. I’ve yet to find a piece I don’t like, but here are my tried-and-true favorites!IMG_6700

Above:

  1. Gem Trio Studs $68 {made in Peru}- These just seem to go with everything. I tend to wear a lot of t-shirts, and these are so easy to pair with a casual outfit and add a little pop of color. Plus, with all the time I spent in Peru, I’m always partial to those pieces!
  2. Hanoi Necklace $52 {made in Vietnam}- I’ll admit this one caught me by surprise. I didn’t expect to love it, but I find myself wishing I could wear it every day. Can a necklace be comfortable? If so, this is it. I’m obsessed.
  3. Entwined Bracelet $28 {made in India}- Before getting into Noonday, I wasn’t much of a bracelet girl. This one helped me ease into bracelet stacking, plus it absolutely goes with everything. The simplicity & neutrality of it make it perfect for wearing every day! (Which I try to take literally)
  4. Calypso Earrings $30 {made in Vietnam}- These earrings are so versatile I even wore them to Six Flags. James and Betty forced me into riding those absurdly high swings (the ones you can see from the highway 20 miles away…) and as I sat up there spinning and screaming, I was really hoping my super cute earrings weren’t about to fall out. Thankfully, we survived. I kissed the ground and probably these earrings too.

IMG_6701

Above:

  1. Tierdrop Necklace $56 {made in India}- This necklace is SO PRETTY! I’m constantly trying to make it work with any semi-fancy outfit I own. Since it’s more of a statement piece, I haven’t worn it as much as some of the others, but it’s the kind of necklace I get reeeeally excited to wear. Love.
  2. Sofiya Wrap Bracelet $30 {made in India}- I’m not sure if a guy would ever understand this description, but this is my go-to piece of jewelry when I just want to feel girly & pretty. It’s pink and gold and wraps. Enough said.
  3. Cubed Studs, Gold $42 {made in Peru}- I have worn these earrings 10x more than anything else in my wardrobe. They’re simple enough to go with a t-shirt, but just bright enough to be noticeable. I rarely, if ever, go without earrings, so these have become the perfect pair! (they also come in silver, if you’re into that kind of thing)
  4. Everest Wrap Bracelet, Mint $30 {made in India}- I’m pretty into this bright mint color with the gold accents, so I love layering it with a few other gold bracelets. It’s easy to dress up or dress down, and that is the kind of versatility that will always win in my wardrobe!

Well, as I’m examining these pieces now, it looks like I’m pretty partial to the pieces made by Indian artisans… Check out Sofiya’s story here! (yep- she’s the name behind that bracelet I’m obsessed with too!)

So, what about you?! Do you have a favorite Noonday piece yet?

PS- if you’ve ever thought about hosting a Noonday trunk show, let’s chat! Fall/Winter is a perfect time for shopping for all those Christmas gifts! #purchasewithpurpose 

xo

Best & Brightest | 09

My trick to getting through a busy day? Pretty Instagram feeds. Here’s a sample from one of my favorites, @lucylaucht. (She’s the gal who runs the social + digital media at J.Crew. #dreamjob)20140710-221555-80155935.jpgPlus, it’s dahlia time and ohhh do I have a soft spot for giant dahlias. So fabulous.

In other news, this week was big for fun & interesting stories; there were so many to choose from! Trust me, these are gems.

Brilliant: What to Pack Going to Europe {would also make a perfect capsule wardrobe}

5 habits to a balanced life

Adorable teeny-tiny house!

I always love this series: Surprising things as Americans parenting in London

Jen Hatmaker’s renovation show has a starting date! & a name! eeeek!

Harry Potter’s been busy lately (!!) The talented JK wrote an update!

Teach your kids how to be rich: simple ideas to build generous hearts

Happy 5th Birthday, Ssekos! Amazing company!

News in the life of my courageous friends being foster parents

A brave blog post this week: Kicking fears to the curb

Totally great shoes

How to Noonday Party Like a Boss {got me super excited!}

Top 50 cities in the world to see in your life {I thought I was well-traveled… I got 4 of 50. Oops.}

Made me laugh: What if we all acted like we were in the World Cup? {definitely watch till the end!}

SO excited to start following the Style for Justice trip with Noonday + IJM in Rwanda- starting today!

Have a lovely weekend, friends! xo

More Noonday!

Every once in a while, there are decisions that just make sense. Maybe not at first, but as I mustered up enough courage to say out loud what had been rolling around my brain the past few months, no one was surprised. There are people who really know me well out there in the world, and when they heard I was thinking of jumping in further with Noonday, they patiently listened to all of my reasons why it might not work, and then they smiled politely and gently gave me the nudge I needed.Noonday  LOGO

I have become passionate about this idea of redemption in all areas of life. If I, a mess of a person, can be redeemed to be used for God’s Kingdom work, then why not everything? I’ve always been into fashion, sometimes admittedly to an unhealthy extent, but what if even fashion could be redeemed for Kingdom work?

It sounds crazy. It sounds “not holy enough.” (That’s not a thing, by the way)

But then I heard Jalia & Daniel’s story in Uganda.. [only 4 minutes long]

God has created us in the most amazing ways; He even designed work, which brings dignity to people’s lives unlike anything else. Certainly I’ve never lived in poverty, but I remember my job-hunting days as some of the lowest points of my life. Even then, I had incredible “support nets.” After visiting Uganda, I saw poverty and felt a helplessness I couldn’t shake. Surely there was something I could do?

Noonday Collection’s mission is to create economic opportunity for the vulnerable. We partner with artisans in the developing world, empowering them to grow sustainable businesses. By creating a marketplace for their goods, we create dignified jobs at living wages.

This allows our artisans to earn more in order to support their families. We also offer no interest loans and make advance payments on orders. This way we are able to shoulder the costs of materials and build a lasting relationship based on trust.

Noonday Collection is not a charity and we do not believe that providing a hand out is a sustainable long-term solution to poverty. We aim to be a sustainable business that gives women across the United States a way to make a lasting difference in the fight against poverty and injustice.

-from Noonday Impact page

I’ve decided to jump in and be an Ambassador for Noonday, mostly because I’m already talking about it all the time, and it seems like a perfect opportunity to combine my passions & gifts. I already have an awesome full-time job, so it won’t have to be a stressful thing, but more of a fun outlet on the side. {more info on what it means to be an ambassador here}

Basically, it means if you ever want to host a Noonday trunk show, I’d love to help you! I’ll bring all the samples & you bring your friends. Together, we can share the vision of “purchasing for purpose” to impact the lives of families across the globe. Also, if you ever want to just buy a few pieces, you can buy directly from me here: chelseawilliams.noondaycollection.com

I’d also encourage you to spend some time learning about the Who, How, + Where of the Noonday impact. With partnerships in 10 different countries, from Guatamala to Vietnam to Rwanda, the stories abound. Be inspired!splash-map

{story of Noonday}

{shop here}

Best & Brightest | 07

Oh, hey there! Oops, the blog went quiet this week. I’d like to fully blame the World Cup action, and all the time it is taking me to learn the rules of soccer. Goal-differential is a big hyphenated word, after all.

Plus there was the watching party at work, so that took some time too..

I debated putting even this post out there this week, but I had already found the stories, so hey. #USA & more favorites from the week:

I’m probably last to know this, but the world’s longest hashtag taking up all the twitter characters? It came from this commercial:

It’s totally moving, so I take it back. #IBelieveThatWeWillWin #IAlsoBelieveThatWeNeedShorterHashtagsThatDoNotIncludeExcessiveWordsBecauseItIsRidiculous

Fascinating experiment: Photoshop beauty standards around the world

A girl wrote her dad’s boss a letter to get him off work. “PS it is Summer you know!”

Encouraging news in the fight against sex trafficking in the US

It may not have to be love at first sight after all [whew, right?!]

No, really. The best way to cut grapes in half

Watching too much TV causes premature death, they say. [bored to death?]

Best summer nail polish

Rachel McAdams audition tape for The Notebook [can you believe it’s been 10 years?]

A campaign for #likeagirl to be a compliment

Warby Parker has now sold & given over 1 million pairs of glasses! Wow!

Loving this tank top

Non-stop giggles from this First Moon Party [guys won’t think it’s as funny. fair warning]

Some news from President Snow. [Chilling, terrifying, & counting down till the next movie!]

And, bringing this full circle, an athlete with a great story

 

Happy weekend, friends! I’m packing in lots of fun reunions, and I can’t wait!

PS- an exciting announcement is coming soon…! Stay tuned. 🙂

Best & Brightest | 06

Happy Friday, friends! Summer in June is maybe my very favorite. James and Betty planted a garden at my parents’ house, and last night I ate veggies grown right there! I know I shouldn’t be as amazed as I am, but watching food grow straight from the ground then eating it later (like 4 months later), is so wild. Maybe one day I’ll cultivate enough patience to plant some myself…

In the meantime, on a run through the neighborhood this week, I came across these flowers running away over the fence into the street and found it lovely:20140619-213022-77422878.jpgHere are some favorite finds this week:

Having long-distance best friends, this hit way too close to home. [insert crying emojis]

Packing tips for your summer getaway

“Um no. Facebook’s not cool anymore.” -every teenager, apparently.

How to cut a cake perfectly

Favorite read: for daughters and dads and dating. [love her wisdom]

History of weird words like “cooties”

The FBI have their own twitter cheat sheet [awesome.]

Will this work? Plants that repel mosquitos. If so, I’m off to market in the morning.

Homemade soft pretzels. [yum!]

Loving this podcast from Jamie Ivey!

If you’re into this sort of thing- anthro tag sale this weekend [!!]

Can’t wait till this book comes out [for the cover alone, right?!]

Warby Parker opened a storefront in Dallas!

Anyone tried online consignment? What do you think?

The 2-letter word ruining your credibility. [totally guilty]

Have a wonderful weekend! Go get a sno cone. It’s not going to be June much longer! xo

The Simple Closet

New season=mega closet clean out + new clothes, right?! Well, maybe.

In a culture constantly pushing for more, a few are bravely wishing for less. Shauna Niequist wrote a great post on Less a few weeks ago, and this book made me want to sell everything. (I didn’t. I’ve got people in my life that help with these sorts of moments.)

But the closet? That is surely one area we can all agree: we need simple.
clean closet(source)

First of all, I’m a huge fan of the tiny twig‘s No Brainer Wardrobe. She wrote these posts (start here) a couple years ago, but the principles still stand today. I went ahead and purchased the ebook, but I just like to have things easier to find. Most of the content can be patched together through her various blog posts on the subject. My high school self really would have benefitted from this… Not that I would have listened.. (more is more, mom!)

If the fashion part isn’t as big of a deal for you, here are my top 6 steps to a simple closet:

1. Count everything.

No, really. How many times have you stood there staring at the same pairs of pants wondering if a new on-trend pair will suddenly appear? After counting, you’ll realize there are 10 staring you right in the face. Is ten too many? I don’t know- I’m not you. Maybe it depends how many you actually wear. If you wear a dress every day to work, 10 pairs of pants might not make sense for your life anymore.

Every area of life needs an inventory before helpful steps can be taken, and redeeming a closet is no different! Don’t do this to feel guilty, but instead make yourself have an accurate view of what’s in there. My journey of this step started here, and it wasn’t pretty.

2. Realize what you need.

Did you see that word? NEED. This is a tricky one. It might be the step to bring in a trusted friend or accountability partner. Sometimes there are blind spots in the wants vs. needs categories of our lives, and for me, this is absolutely true.

For the record, you do need clothes. You’ll get arrested without them. You also need work-appropriate clothes, of you’ll get fired. You may not need to have a different full outfit for every day of the week (plus evening attire and weekends) that won’t repeat for an entire quarter/year/life stage.

You also need shoes. Our feet have grown soft in our Western first-world days. Trust me.

3a. Think through what you can afford to replace.

This is the step most advice-givers skip, but I would argue this is key to sustaining a simple closet. You may be having a wake-up call to the excess in your life and not want to replace anything. However, that staple black dress you’ve worn 57 times but now is ratty would be wise to replace. One time I threw out my “everyday” shoes because they were worn out, but then I couldn’t afford replacements yet, and was left with no good options.

Unless your budget is unlimited, this is a difficult. Ideally, you’ve been budgeting ahead of time if you know replacements are needed, but not all of us end up on What Not to Wear (um, thankfully!) with $1000 to burn. Be wise. Go back to #3. Bring in friends to help.

3b. Ruthlessly get rid of things.

Again, I’m going to point you back to the tiny twig on this, because I am not a fashion blogger and she has much more helpful tips of what’s worth keeping vs. what needs to go. I also love this graphic I found on Pinterest via this pin (can’t find the source link?!) for its visual practicality.closet

Remember, before you throw it away or donate it, consider the repercussions (see 3a).

4. Donate intentionally.

After my first massive closet clean out a few years ago, I was just planning to take it all to goodwill. This is certainly not a bad idea. After all, who doesn’t love a good thrift store?

However, my friend Lacey was staying with me that weekend, and the ministry she works with has a clothes closet for women leaving the sex-for-sale industry. She was elated with my multiple bags and took it all off my hands immediately. A few weeks later she sent me a picture of one of the women wearing one of my shirts, and I loved that!

So, before goodwill (if you can), try to reach out to a local ministry you could help. Call your local church and ask their recommendations. (They’ll have plenty!) If you’re in Dallas, I’ve been directed to Union Gospel Mission; either to the women’s shelter or directly to their thrift store on sight. I love how connected our church already is with UGM, so it’s an easy decision for me.

 5. Keep simple sustainable.

Now that your closet is paired down considerably, make plans to keep it this way. Don’t just clean it out to fill it to the brim again, because then what was the point? I still have clean outs every now and then, but after the first big one, I made a point to keep the number of items low on purpose. I want to live simply, and this was the first area I needed to redeem.

6. Rethink the way you buy.

I’ll talk your ear off about fair trade and how things are made and who made it and why those things matter (I have, several times on this blog), but I strongly believe that this changes everything. When I purchase something that directly impacts the one who made it, I feel one step closer to changing the world. Even through my closet.

 Live simply, so others may simply live.”  -Mother Teresa