Links I love.

Christmas castle

Christmas castle

Heads up: through December 14, take 25% off any book (max discount: $10) on Amazon through December 14 by using the code BOOKDEAL25. Not sure what to get? Here’s your list.

Best of the web:

The 10 best books of 2014, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.

How to master the fine art of small talk. #1 is awesome.

Why we still send holiday cards in the age of Facebook. (Us, too.)

Taylor Swift “Blank Space” parody. This “mom version” is hysterical, especially if YOU thought Taylor Swift was saying “Starbucks.”

On the blog:

How rare is a great marriage? (Terrific comments section.)

Super-simple cloth napkins.

The life-changing magic of tidying up.

Books that belong in every family’s library. (Great for Christmas ideas.)

Have a great weekend!

Great holiday gifts from companies with great missions.

It’s December; we’ve got shopping on the brain. Many of us are thinking hard about how we spend our holiday dollars, buying some—or even all—of our holiday gifts from businesses that focus on the common good and the bottom line. (Think Noonday, or fashionABLE.)

I heard Becca Stevens speak back in October, and I’ve had six weeks to kick her thoughts around.

Stevens runs a social enterprise in Nashville called Thistle Farms, which is run by the women of Magdalene, a residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. They make artisanal bath and body products by hand. High quality ingredients and living wages are expensive. 

Most social enterprises like Thistle Farms fail. They can’t compete in the marketplace because the margins aren’t there. Most consumers want the cheap candles you get at Target, not top-notch hand-poured soy candles with high-quality essential oils made in Nashville that also provide a living wage for the women who make them, a wage that is crucial to these women as they rebuild their lives.

But in the past few years, that consumer mindset has been slowly changing. Thistle Farms is succeeding because they’re convincing customers that when you buy their products, you get what you pay for, and you get more than just a great candle. You can feel good about how your dollars are spent all the way down the supply chain.

Thistle Farms isn’t alone. These are 4 of my favorite businesses that make amazing products and have amazing missions.

thistle farms

Thistle Farms

Thistle Farms sells handmade natural bath and body products by hand that are as good for the earth as they are for the body. Purchases directly benefit the women by whom they were made. Favorite products include body balms, candles, soaps, and essential oils. (I’m burning my lavender Love Heals soy candle as I’m writing this.)

Christmas order deadline: December 17.

giftresponsibly1

Johari Creations

Johari Creations is a marketplace for handcrafted products made by artisans in developing countries. They seek to come alongside their artisan partners with sustainable incomes, holistic development, and shared responsibility. “Johari” is the Swahili word for jewel, and refers to the artisans themselves.

Favorite products include glass bead necklaces, tagua bracelets, and batik headbands. They also have a great line for kids.

Check in daily for their 12 Days of Christmas promotions.

Christmas order deadline: December 17.

fashionable collage

fashionABLE

The fashionABLE mission is to create sustainable business in Africa. When you buy a fashionABLE product you provide new opportunities to vulnerable women, many of whom have been exploited due to the effects of poverty. fashionABLE is best known their scarves, handmade from Ethiopian cotton in the capital of Addis Ababa, but their newer jewelry and leather lines are also gorgeous.

Favorite products include the scarves (I particularly like the cute and easy to wear Selam game day scarves), the Able necklace, and the Mamuye tote.

Check in daily for their twelve days of Christmas promotions.

deadline: last day for ground shipping: December 18. Last day for rush shipping: December 23.

noonday

Noonday Collection

Noonday Collection’s mission is to create economic opportunity for the vulnerable. They partner with artisans in the developing world, empowering them to grow sustainable businesses. They also offer interest-free loans, make advance payments on orders, and offer scholarship programs and emergency assistance.

Noonday has branched out in recent years, adding belts, bags, and home accessory products. But their jewelry remains my favorite. (My Noonday necklace is a compliment magnet.) I love the Inca steps necklace, tangled beads bracelet, and raindrop earrings.

Christmas order deadline: December 15.

I’d love to hear about your favorite businesses in comments. 

The best silk blouse ever {a giveaway}

best silk blouse

Up for today: something cool and a chance to win it, from the lovely people at Popbasic.

Popbasic is a fashion startup that puts out a new “micro-collection” about once a month. (See them all right here; Frankie has been my favorite so far.)

Each collection focuses on beautiful, luxurious staples, so women can build their wardrobes over time. Each collection costs between $50-$100 and includes three items that can be worn together, or separately. They’re a global company (co-founder Maddy is Australian) and worldwide shipping is always free.

popbasic sc 3 popbasic sc 4popbasic sc 2

For the past year, Popbasic has been working with one of the top silk manufacturers in the world to create the best silk blouse, at the best price. Their blouse is made of heavyweight silk (no worries about sheerness) and has a silky smooth finish.

Blouses like these typically retail for hundreds of dollars, but Popbasic is selling them for much less, and they’re doing it through Kickstarter.

The blouse is available in two colors: Strawberries and Cream, and Milk Silk.

popbasic m 1 popbasic m 2 popbasic m 3

Detailed sizing info is on the Kickstarter page. (I ordered a medium.)

The Kickstarter was fully funded in less than 24 hours, but if they hit their stretch goals, they’ll add new prints. Yesterday they hit their first stretch goal, which means the blouse will also be available in Licorice.

popbasic prints

I’m pulling for them to hit their next stretch goal before the Kickstarter ends on December 15, because I’m lusting after the Luna print.

Fund their campaign here. Sign up for Popbasic mailings here to stay up-to-date on their news and new collections. (You can also use this link to get $15 off your first collection.)

Today Popbasic is giving away a silk blouse set to one reader, who will receive one Strawberries and Cream blouse and one Milk Silk blouse in her preferred size when orders are fulfilled in the spring.

UPDATE: The giveaway has ended and the winner has been notified by email.

To enter, leave a comment suggesting a print you’d like to see on a future Popbasic silk blouse

The fine print: Giveaway ends Saturday, December 6 at 11:59 pm EST. U.S. residents only (I’m sorry! It’s a legal thing); must be 18 or older to enter.
Good luck! I hope YOU win.

Links I love

red maple and snow

From this week: autumn and winter, all at once. 

Housekeeping: the Lucy Jane giveaway has ended and winners have been notified by email. If you didn’t win (Sorry, I would have loved to send “strong coffee long books” pencil pouches to every one of you!) now you’re free to shop: sign up for the Lucy Jane newsletter here and get 15% off your first order.

Lucy Jane classy and fabulous

Classy & Fabulous pencil pouch from Lucy Jane

Best of the web:

Ten thoughts on hosting Thanksgiving from Shauna Niequist. “People are serious about Thanksgiving food, and most of them are practicing some sort of complex strategy for how to consume a staggering amount of both turkey and pie. ..”

How to make your last name plural this Christmas season. “Nothing quells my Christmas cheer as quickly as a stray apostrophe. Every year they assault me.”

Male TV host wears same suit for a year; no one notices.” Of course they didn’t.

British authors’ houses on Google maps. “One thing we’ve learned: Most authors lived in very posh houses, except Rudyard Kipling who lived above a branch of Eat.”

On the blog: 

A very bookish Christmas countdown. (I got so many great Christmas book ideas from the comments on this post!)

Simplicity, productivity, and the personal uniform. (Yes, that is really my closet.)

Gorgeous books for giving (and receiving).

Have a great weekend!