[LL+L] October 2017

This is the inaugural Life, Loves + Links – a (hopefully) monthly feature where I share what has been going on with the Joneses, things I’ve been loving or thinking about lately, including ALL THE LINKS to articles, podcasts, etc. I often have small ideas or things going on that don’t merit a whole post, so this is a place for them to all go. Like a junk drawer, but more fun and with no loose batteries.

  • Life // Manuscript: Done! – Last Thursday my advisor and I submitted the revisions for a manuscript I’ve been working on for the last two years. To say it’s a relief to have it out of my hands is the understatement of the year. The weeks leading up to that day were crazy, but they confirmed the value of the habits and routines I’ve been building this year – I didn’t feel nearly as overwhelmed as I have during previous busy seasons with school.
  • Love // Slow Cooker Sundays – As part of an attempt to create more space for Sabbath rest, I’ve dubbed Sundays slow cooker day in our house. It means we have a freshly cooked meal without much effort, and there are usually leftovers for our week ahead (or the freezer). I’ve been trying out a different recipe each week, and so far this enchilada orzo is my favorite (I used Trader Joe’s enchilada sauce, changed up the spices a bit, and used Daiya cream cheese, stirred in at the end).
  • Link // The Lazy Genius – I discovered Kendra after she was a guest for The Popcast Live in Raleigh. She was hilarious, and I decided to check out her podcast, The Lazy Genius Podcast [iTunes]. There, on her blog, and on Instagram, Kendra gives general life advice and her motto is: Be a genius about the things that matter, and lazy about the things that don’t. That’s a motto I can get behind. Her specific advice is often great, but what I love even more is her approach to life – we don’t have to do everything, we can choose to do a few things well, and let’s not run in circles unnecessarily.
    • I highly recommend her “home keeping” episodes (#21 – laundry, #32 – cleaning the kitchen, and #17 – cleaning the house).
    • Also, she has a holiday series that started two weeks ago, and you should get on it! I’m already feeling less stressed and more excited about the holidays this year thanks to her recommendations.
  • Life // Mr. Jones – This month, Matt started a new job as an EC (special education) teacher! He’s putting his education minor and his pediatric OT experience to use, and he’s doing what is called “lateral entry,” so he will earn his official teaching license in the next few years. He is loving it so far, and I know he’s going to be great at it!
  • Love // My (our) electric blanket – My mom recently gave me one of the electric blankets she had in her stash. I’m pretty sure it’s the same one I used in high school, and I had forgotten how magical this thing was. I’ve been using it to “preheat” the bed every night, and it is so much easier to talk myself out of my reading chair when I know I have a warm bed waiting on me. It has the added benefit of helping us save energy this time of year, since we don’t need to turn the heat up in the whole house at night!
  • Link // Other podcasts I’m loving lately:

Healing my skin without prescriptions + my vegan, low-waste skincare routine

Like many people, I struggled with acne starting in my early teens. I went to the dermatologist for the first time when I was thirteen, and thus began almost a decade of cycling through prescription creams, and eventually taking daily antibiotics, to try to cure my acne. The creams sometimes helped, but sometimes they also bleached my clothes and my pillowcases, and sometimes I felt like I was part of some extended clinical trial, as we tried the newest product on the market every six months or so. The antibiotics helped as long as I was taking them, but when I went off them for a few months every year to let my body reset, my face would be back to square one. Taking the antibiotics was also a major factor in the acid reflux I developed during college, which I took another drug to treat… Perhaps not surprisingly, I became disillusioned with them as a long term solution.*

So several years ago, I started looking for ways to heal my skin more holistically (i.e. actually fixing the underlying problems instead of just putting a bandaid on the visible symptom). These days, my face is still not “perfect” (I do have real pores), but I’m happier with it now than ever. Breakouts are rare and small, and my skin just feels good to be in. I credit several things with that, and today I’m sharing the top three, including my simple, low-maintenance, and low-waste skincare routine.

So how did I heal my skin without prescription drugs?

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Anniversary thrifting + an entryway makeover!

At the end of May, Matt and I celebrated 2 years of marriage! Our anniversary fell the day after Memorial Day this year, so we took off Thursday through Monday and had a staycation! Staying home saved us a ton of money because MDW + hotels = EXPENSIVE, and we still had a lot of fun eating at our favorite vegan-friendly restaurants and visiting with friends.

We also spent some time working on our thrifty anniversary presents: furniture! I know, year two is supposed to be for cotton, but Matt has been jealous of my “reading chair” for some time, so we finally made time to go hunting for one. I wanted to try secondhand first, and our search took us to a consignment shop in Greensboro that I frequented in college. A great thing about consignment shops is that many of them will drop the price after an item has been sitting for a while, so check to see if they have a color-coding system or dates on the tags and you might find a great steal. We ended up in a room past the main showroom, where a bunch of chairs were packed in against a wall, and found this chair all the way in the back. Continue reading

Do the next thing

“We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.”

– Calvin Coolidge

When I tell people that I’m vegan, a common response I hear is “That’s great, but, I could never do that.” They might agree with the tenants of veganism, they just don’t think they’re up for living that way. This can be a frustrating thing for me to hear, because I honestly feel like if I can do it, anyone can. But recently, I found myself on the other side of the metaphorical table.

Around Earth Day in April, I started seeing a huge number of posts about the zero waste movement.* I had heard of this idea before, and had even watched one of Lauren Singer’s videos. But I was highly intimidated by the idea of producing less than a pint worth of trash in two years, and decided I was not up for that sort of thing. I thought, “Oh, I could never do that.”

Where have I heard that before?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my attitude toward zero waste was similar to the attitude I’ve encountered toward veganism. I also came to feel that at the heart of this attitude is a comparison problem. It’s looking at someone else’s lifestyle and saying “that’s too different from how I live; I’ll never be able to get to that point.” For someone who eats meat or animal products every day, the difference between their diet and mine is enough to feel overwhelming. That’s understandable. Likewise, I was looking at my trash can and deciding that I was “too far gone” to make a change for the better.

The reality is that most people who live differently from how they used to didn’t make those changes overnight. Granted, some people do. I’ve read many stories of people who were meat-eaters one day, and vegans the very next. If that’s you, I admire your resolve. But when I looked back at my own vegan transition, I realized that it was really a series of small changes that added up over years to where I am now.

My (slow) vegan transition

My transition to vegetarianism in early 2010 was accidentally very quick. I originally gave up meat for 40 days as part of a fast. I decided the morning the fast started that I wouldn’t eat meat for this period, so I didn’t have time to work my way into it. Over the course of the 40 days, as I was doing research to make sure I was eating well, the resources that I found convinced me that I never wanted to eat meat again.

The transition to veganism was much slower. I knew early on that it was a direction I wanted to go, but living with roommates and sharing groceries made it difficult. I started with the “easy” things: I started buying my own non-dairy milk and butter. I experimented with vegan baking (my first attempt, brownies, were disastrous, but things improved from there).  I chose vegan meat alternatives when I bought them. I started shopping for vegan-friendly toiletries and cosmetics, and cut leather out of my wardrobe.

When I moved into a studio apartment in 2011, I decided to go “at home vegan,” meaning that I never bought anything at the grocery store that wasn’t vegan. I was less strict at restaurants or when others were cooking. The hardest part of the full vegan transition for me was getting comfortable with asking questions of servers to make sure I wasn’t going to be served eggs or dairy, and requesting that friends and family serve not just a vegetarian option, but a vegan option, or turning down food someone had made. So in the meantime, I ate vegan 90% of the time, and slowly got more comfortable and knowledgeable about vegan options when eating out. I finally went “fully vegan” in January of 2012.

Since then, there have been many micro-transitions, especially to a healthier, more whole-foods veganism. I don’t eat as many faux meats or cheeses as I used to. I can and will eat tofu straight from the package, especially in place of cheese on pasta or pizza (which I recognize is absolutely bizarre to the average person). I find avocado to be a perfectly acceptable alternative to sour cream and sometimes mayo. I love the darkest of dark chocolate, and will drink my coffee black if I have to (although my stomach doesn’t prefer it). I couldn’t have said any of these things five or even three years ago. Veganism is still a continuous journey for me.

So why should I expect that something like zero waste would be any different?

Small steps, over and over

The reality is that almost any serious, sustainable life change is probably going to happen in stages, not overnight. Healthier eating, ethical purchasing practices, living on a budget, working out, etc. all seem to work better for me if I make small changes over and over, rather than trying to do everything at once.

I realized that I was letting the enormity of my current waste output keep me from doing anything about it, and that’s a little crazy if you actually think about it.

So instead, I’m choosing to take those small steps. I’m identifying some areas where I can make small, fairly convenient changes and have an impact. I have recommitted to always, always using my reusable shopping bags (an area where I had gotten slack), and have started making an effort to carry other reusables such as to-go containers and mugs. I’m in the process of evaluating my shopping list, and seeing what fits within our budget to buy from bulk bins or buy in the most recyclable packaging (i.e. glass or cardboard over plastic). As I move forward, I’m sure other areas will become obvious to me, and I’ll find new ways to reduce our waste.

I don’t say this to pat myself on the back, especially because I feel like I’ve only started, but to make the point that baby steps are better than no steps. If you’re looking into a life change like veganism or zero waste, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by other people’s progress. But, take a deep breath, step back, and think, “What is one small step I can take to move in that direction?” Do it. And then?

Do the next thing.


*For those not familiar, the idea behind a zero waste lifestyle is to reduce the amount of trash you send to landfill (ideally to zero – hence the name). This is accomplished by refusing single-use items such as to-go containers and grocery bags in favor of reusable items, by buying primarily un-packaged items or items in recyclable packaging, making items instead of buying them pre-packaged where possible, and by intentional reusing and recycling. The movement generally also prioritizes the reduction of plastic use altogether, even when items can be recycled, because plastics cannot be recycled indefinitely (as can glass and metal) and take a great deal of time to break down in landfills.

My Dressember challenge

How in the world are we at the end of November!? It’s insane how fast this year has flown by.

As much as I’m perplexed by 2017 quickly approaching, I am pleased to announce that I’ll be taking part in Dressember next month!

Dressember is an annual challenge where women wear dresses for the entire month of December to increase awareness of human trafficking, and raise money for anti-trafficking organizations. To quote their website:


Throughout the month, I’ll be wearing a dress every single day. In addition to the “base” challenge, I’ve decided to challenge myself to wear primarily clothing (and especially dresses) that I’ve ethically sourced. At this stage in my ethical wardrobe journey, and with my current budget, that primarily means clothing that I’ve bought at thrift stores, and a small handful of items that I’ve bought new from ethical companies. I also have a number of dresses that I bought new pre-ethical wardrobe days, but I’ll be wearing them only sparingly. The official Dressember guidelines state that skirts don’t count. However, I have some great thrifted skirts, and so to add some variety to my wardrobe, I will let myself wear a few skirts.

I’ve decided to set a few specific guidelines for myself:

  1. I will only wear a “bought new” (pre-ethical) dress once per week.
  2. I will allow myself to wear a (thrifted) skirt once per week.
  3. When I share outfits, I will say whether each item was “bought new,” “bought used,” or which company I bought it from.

I’m so looking forward to starting on December 1st! I hope you’ll follow over on Instagram @notthosejoneses and @andriahjones! You can donate to my campaign here.



Things I’m Loving Thursday – July 2016

I love sharing new things I’m enjoying with my friends and family, so I thought this week I would share some things I’m enjoying right now:

This blog post by Sharon Hodde Miller – I have really loved watching Sharon’s ministry grow since I knew her back in her college ministry days. Her thoughts on “effortless perfection” really resonate me, and with what this blog is about. As women, we often feel the pressure to have perfect lives without looking like we try at all, but that’s not what grace and the gospel are about at all. Her post is an encouragement that having to work hard at something is not a sign that there is something wrong with you (everyone is working hard, even if they want you to think they aren’t), and that God’s calling will often lead us to messy, difficult places. It’s also a reminder to me to be careful how I present myself to others. It would be counteractive to mission for this blog if anyone came away from it thinking I have it “all together.”

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