Mid-January Wardrobe Recap

Taking a picture of yourself every single day is a very eye-opening experience. I didn't realize how body conscious and self-deprecating I was until this new year. But one thing it did confirm is that I love my wardrobe! Not shopping for a year will really help me to utilize what I already own in a new and exciting way.

It has been ridiculously cold in Florida for 3 weeks solid and I needed to get pretty creative to keep myself warm and feeling good in my own skin. Over the years I've slowly gotten rid of my warmer wardrobe because we average temps in the 80's year round. Who needs gorgeous bulky sweaters or cute peacoats for one day a year? Apparently I did since this entire month has been an ice box! But I made it through with a leather jacket that was given to me last year from a friend's rich employer. Winning!

The other thing taking a picture of myself every day revealed is how much I like my overall look better if I take the time to fix my hair. What you see in the picture is how I looked: hair up, workout clothes, hair down, heels, sweatshirts, all of it. And when I take the time to actually fix my hair, it makes me feel more put together. I already feel like I'm learning so much through this year long shopping fast and it's not even the end of January yet!

Here are my outfits for the first part of January.

This is really reminding me of the five years I participated in the October Dress Project. Maybe I'll join in again and do it this year. What do you guys think?

Also, did you see that I'm featuring Sseko Designs as my #fashionforgood company for January? Check it out and buy a little something for yourself!


Sseko Designs: Uganda, Africa

When we decided to adopt from Africa, all my childhood dreams were coming true. I've always had this special place in my heart for that massive continent and bringing two sons into my family from it was beyond my wildest dreams. Before we flew to Uganda to meet our sons, I contacted Sseko Designs and asked about visiting their workshop in Kampala, Uganda. Not only did I get to visit, I also was able to bring supplies so that they could continue manufacturing their amazing products. It was a life altering experience for me and my relationship with my clothing.

Visiting the workshop, seeing how the sandals were made, and meeting the women who were able to go to college because of it forever changed the way I looked at clothing. It gave a tangible experience to help me realize that the clothing that is so plentiful and accessible in every store, is made by an actual person. And that person has a name and a story and a family to support. And they have dreams to be lived. And I could no longer separate what I wore from the reality. 

My visit to the workshop in 2012.

Sseko Designs was born by Liz Bohannan when she visited Uganda after college as a journalism major. It changed her forever and she sought to help girls, who had become her friends, fund their college education. Uganda still values education for males over females, so Sseko empowers young women to achieve their dreams to be college educated and make a better life for themselves, while changing the gender norms. 

The women who graduated from the Sseko program and have enough money to head to college.

After several years in business having great success and even appearing on Shark Tank, they decided to help women here in the USA achieve their dreams by starting the Sseko Fellows program. Women here could become ambassadors for Sseko, having home shows and private shopping parties for friends, all the while sharing the remarkable stories about the women across the globe who were making the products. And one of those Sseko Fellows is Erin Sutliff.

Erin Sutliff with Sseko founder, Liz Bohannan

Here's an interview with Erin:

How long have you been a Sseko Fellow and why did you decide to join?

I started with Sseko Designs in October 2015 because I loved the mission, product and really because I felt like this is what God wanted me to do.

What has Sseko done for you personally? 

What God has done through Sseko amazes me all the time. I have gained so much confidences in myself. I feel like I am me again. There are things that Sseko has help with financially but it is so much more then that for me.  It is empowering me.  It is giving me me, I guess.

What would you tell other women?

I am so excited I followed this and took that leap of faith. It isn't always easy, but anything worth having is worth working for.  I love the work I am doing and the impact I am having with the women in East Africa and here. 

Thanks, Erin for sharing! Both Erin and I wanted to share our favorite Sseko products with you and a chance for you to grab your own

Karissa's Favorite:
Ribbon Sandals

They are so versatile because of the many ways to tie them and the colorful ribbons, the possibilities are endless! And because I picked mine out at the actual workshop from the women who made them, they will forever be my favorite pair of shoes.

Erin's Favorite:
Bucket Bag

My favorite aside from the sandals is the bucket bag. It has held up to Mom life. That includes movie theaters, amusement parks, in pools and all around mom life.

And we are having a trunk show! Want to buy your own products and support these amazing women in Uganda? They click this link and go shop! And tell us what is your favorite Sseko Designs item!


Day 2 of no shopping in 2018

The weather had been consistently chilly for Florida, averaging around 48 degrees for the third day in a row and rumors of snow in Central Florida were circulating. This stark change from 95 degree days allowed for all kinds of layering options, which is my dream wardrobe, but my 20 pound heavier frame was struggling to find the warm clothing I only donned four days a year and hadn't needed in two years, to keep me warm for the day to come. I grabbed jeans, a long sleeve black shirt, scarf and jacket. Not the most creative combination, but I was limited by the cold and my weight gain.

The kids were home on Christmas break and thankfully, my husband's teaching schedule aligns perfectly with my school-aged kiddos vacations, allowing him to be home as I headed to work. Nothing out of the ordinary happened at work as I attended a staff meeting, scheduled social media posts, created graphics and did a little bookkeeping. The biggest struggle I faced was wrestling with my rarely worn scarf as I moved around in my normal speedy way and found myself ensnared.

I then headed to the exciting part of the day, something that had been on my calendar for a couple of months and I was greatly looking forward to. It was a cast & crew premiere of a the feature length film, "At the End of the Day" that I made a small cameo appearance. Heading straight from work, I coincidentally walked in with the young man who played my son in the film. We snagged this picture as we smiled through the cold wind before heading in.

The film began, my face appeared and faded on the screen while friends cheered and I smiled. And then I settled in to enjoy the work of my friends who have made their dream come true. It was inspiring to watch and see my town so beautifully captured to tell this unique story.

But I became distracted.

As the movie continued, the beautiful historic Polk Theatre had it's heat on while the movie played, but I found myself in this odd space where cold air circulated with the warm. I pulled my scarf around me, thankful I was wearing a very large one, and put my hands between my crossed legs to warm them. That's when I felt it.

I felt my cold icy fingers on my thigh.

I was wearing jeans. How could I feel my skin through jeans? And then I realized what this must mean. There was a hole in the crotch! My jeans that I had owned for 5 years had developed a hole where there shouldn't be one. I was mortified!

Thankfully, I was wearing a gazillion layers and the theatre was dark, but after the congrats were exchanged, I ran to my car and jetted home. I took off my jeans and sure enough, a small hole had developed just from the day-to-day friction of wearing. The area around it was also threadbare and on it's last legs. What a blow!

All of this took place on January 2nd, only 2 days into my year without buying new clothes. The second day of a year long agreement with myself to make due with the massive wardrobe I owned and a staple piece was damaged. It was mildly devastated, because this is my only pair of jeans. While I do own 21 dresses, I only own 4 pairs of pants and only one of those is jeans.

Many of my Instagram followers suggested hosting a swap and some even volunteered to buy a new pair for me. As touched as I am by these offers, I feel like it would diminish the year long fast I am on. So, I going to attempt to patch the jeans from the inside with the help of Google. I'll keep you posted.

Only 360 more days until I can buy another pair of jeans!



23 pairs of shoes
7 pairs of pants
17 shirts
11 skirts
21 dresses
14 cardigans/blazers/jackets
3 kimonos
21 t-shirts
8 tank tops
6 yoga pants
4 pairs of athletic shorts
5 athletic shirts
7 leggings
1 pair of shorts
4 bathing suits
3 beach cover-ups
18 pairs of earrings
27 bracelets
29 necklaces
14 rings
10 fabric headbands
11 hats

And that isn't taking into account the clothes that are in the dirty laundry hamper from a week of wearing.

If that isn't enough of a wardrobe, get this: I have an entire wardrobe that I can wear on my 20 pound lighter body in a huge box that I still haven't touched, but refuse to get rid of because I love what's in it. You read that right: An entire other wardrobe.

It's pretty humbling to count everything in your closet and even more embarrassing to write all of that out, a record for everyone to read of the excess I have. I read the list out loud to my husband and was a little surprised. He said, "When you list it out like that, it really does seem like a lot, huh?" If my number of shoes wasn't overwhelming, this list really put a perspective on things. I realized what I needed to do.

I decided not to purchase any new clothes in 2018.

Obviously, I won't be hurting or struggling to put together many, many different outfits. I think I have 3 months worth of clothes I could wear without repeating anything. But the purpose is to stop the impulse to buy new clothes and appreciate what is already in my closet. It's like the October Dress Project for an entire year. Bring on the creativity!

I plan to do a weekly wrap up of my outfits, showcasing unique ways I've styled things and what I'm learning from this year long fast. And every month I'll highlight a different company I've come to love because of their mission, sustainable and fair trade practices and the way they give back.

In preparation for not purchasing anything in 2018, I will use a gift card I got for Christmas to buy a much needed bra the first week in 2018 (because I didn't make it to the store in between Christmas and the New Year because I don't need that crazy in my life) and I purchased a couple of pairs of underwear and a black t-shirt from PACT.

PACT is certified organic and fair trade, aiming to make the comfiest clothes without harming the environment or the people that live in it. It's my kind of company and I don't know why it has taken me so long to purchase from them! I purchased a 2 pack of lace-waist briefs and lace-waist thongs. And their v-neck is only $16 and comes in many different colors, so what are you waiting for?!?! Go snag yourself some organic, fair trade goodness in the essentials department for a new year.

Happy New Year! Let's make 2018 one for the books!

p.s. do you follow me on Instagram?



The day we brought Andrew and Simon home from Uganda to our 1,200 sq ft home in Florida, I knew I wanted to move.

The noise in the house was staggering enough, but add in 2 kids in diapers, 2 homeschooling and all four kids under 5 years old sharing the same space all day, every day and I had a daycare in my house, that I never left. Ever. Those were tough, long years in that tiny house.

Fast forward five years and we finally move into a new home! We call her Orange Haven and we are loving every square inch of our big mid-century beauty, spacious yard and amazing neighborhood (it's like we went back in time 50 years with chili cook-offs and neighborhood kids free-range on bikes everywhere. Swoon!).

As I was unpacking my closet in the new house, I looked up and became slack-jawed when I saw 23 pairs of shoes.

I had neatly lined them up one by one on my newly purchased shoe rack at the top of my closet, not really reflecting on how many there were until I had finished putting the last shoe in place and I looked up at all of them. I honestly had no idea I owned that many. Twenty-three different pairs of shoes. And all of them were mine.

Why did I need that many pairs of shoes? Sure, I could rationalize that I needed 4 different pairs of heel in various shades of black & brown, all vastly different styles for my ever changing look. It would be easy to explain why I had 4 pairs of sustainably made flats and 2 different fair trade sandals that all gave a better life for someone across the globe simply because I bought them. And I can explain why I have 2 pairs of running shoes and 2 fashion sneakers when I don't run or exercise at all.

Isn't this what the stereotypical American women is? Shoe obsessed? Variety for every outfit imaginable? I was just fitting in the norms of lots of people I know and giving my Instagram following examples of a socially conscience wardrobe on a real life person. And for even more justification, the majority of my clothes are made by people whose names I know and they are getting a fair wage and better life because I purchased them. So it's OK, right?

The more I wrestled with the sheer volume of shoes and then all my clothing as I unpacked box after box after box, I realized that things in my life were out of sync.

The thing that kept coming to mind was, "This is so much. I have so much. Why do I have so much?" But then I would scroll through my beautifully curated Instagram feed through sustainable companies and think, "Oh! I want that!" These two opposing forces were fighting an internal battle and I knew which one was winning. And it was time for an intentional change.

As 2017 comes to a close and we look to a new year and a fresh start, I'm choosing my word of the new year as "EXCESS."

It's a negative word, which is usually not the point of choosing a word for the year. The intention behind choosing a word is to motivate and help with reflection, but mine is a cautionary word as I reflect on all I have and my attitude towards it. Am I thankful and content with the good gifts God gives or just focused on consuming to get the excitement of something new?

Am I pursuing God or just the good gifts He gives?

And my first step in 2018 is to start a year long fast of not purchasing any new clothing items for all of 2018. Not underwear, a cute necklace, or a cause-driven t-shirt. I will not purchase anything for my wardrobe and make use of the excess I have in my amazing wardrobe already. I'm excited about this challenge!

Thanks for joining back into my blog after a two year break! I look forward to sharing so many things with you over the next year, like 12 fair trade brands worth investing in, post-adoption depression, curating a diverse children's library for your home and so many things.

Do you have a word of the year for 2018? Share below!