{Fair Trade Friday} Swellas Co.: Outerwear for Good

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In January my best friend Ruth and I had the opportunity to jet off to Iceland for a long weekend. Along with the stunning scenery, waterfalls, hot springs, unpronounceable words, fermented shark, and volcanoes, the weather was cold, the days were short, and the wind was biting!

In preparing for our trip, I found out about Swellas, an outerwear company based in San Francisco. But these aren’t just your average jackets. In the era of more, more, more, faster, faster, faster, Swellas is committed to ethical production, reduced environment impact, fair wages for their employees, AND they are partnered with Operation Warm, which provides brand new winter coats to millions of children living in poverty across the United States.

I think what’s even more amazing is that they keep their price points attainable without sacrificing quality, functionality, and style. The Berryessa Jacket (above) retails for only $95. The Meiss Jacket (below) will keep you warm for $85.

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So how do they do ALL these great things? Glad you asked.

Ann Duskus, founder and designer, works closely with their manufacturer to source surplus materials from the SAME production lines as the jackets you’d buy in department stores for 3x the price. I won’t bore you with the manufacturing technicalities that I had to learn in design school, but this allow Swellas to bypass minimum order requirements, which keeps the price low and minimizes the textile waste that would otherwise end up in landfills.

I really love the plaid detail that’s underneath the collar on the Meiss Jacket. This fun little pop of fabric would have ended up being thrown away, but thanks to Swellas, it found new life keeping me fashionably warm at Gulfoss Waterfall!

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So, there are a couple of natural side effects that occur because of the way they manufacture. First, it allows their products to be limited edition. If you value wearing something that is unique and not mass-produced, then you’re in luck! Second, in having a lower price point without a ridiculous mark-up, these jackets are more accessible, and not only does that keep more customers warm, it also lets them increase the impact in their partnership with Operation Warm.

And let’s talk about technical side of these jackets. The Berryessa Jacket I’m wearing in the pics below, on a rainy day in Vik and after enduring the ridiculously misty shores of Reynisfjara Beach, is fully lined AND has a wind and water resistant outer shell, keeping my sweater perfectly dry. There is also the thoughtful addition of a zip-up placket underneath the buttons of the outer shell to keep you extra dry and toasty.

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It’s been a great privilege to become friends with Ann and be one their first Swellas Ambassadors. We are in a crucial point in history when people either get it or they don’t, or even worse, they ignore it. You can continue to support fast fashion and unethical means of production, where people (real, live human people with souls, families, hopes and dreams) get paid less than $1/day just so you can have a t-shirt for $5, thus perpetuating these injustices, OR you can align yourself with companies who are trying to overhaul the corrupt fashion industry and spend your dollars supporting their efforts.

Me? I’m joyously taking the road of Fashion for Good!

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Thank you Ann and Swellas for keeping me warm and my conscious clear during my weekend in Iceland! Thank you Ruth for snapping these photos and capturing the joy that comes with being in Scandinavia! Thank YOU for joining me on my mission of educating and advocating.

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Sponsorship disclaimer: As a Swellas Ambassador, these jackets were sent to me to try out, but ALL thoughts and reviews of this wonderful products are my own. 

Noonday Collection

NDNoondayI feel very privileged to now partner with Noonday Collection as a way to empower vulnerable communities through the fair trade business model, educate my community on the issues of justice across the world, and fund the adoption of our precious daughter in India. If you follow me on social media or know me in person, I hope it’s pretty obvious that things mean a lot to me!

So what is this? Noonday Collection is a business that uses fashion to create meaningful opportunities around the world. By connecting artisan businesses to this growing marketplace, Noonday empowers them to create dignified jobs in vulnerable communities.

When you shop Noonday Collection, you join our dream of creating a flourishing world where children are cherished, people have jobs, women are empowered and we are connected.

And thank God, this stuff is gorgeous.

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So how you can you shop to benefit both these artisans AND our adoption?

Click here to make your purchase under my name, and 20% of your purchase will go straight into our adoption fund: http://MalindaNichols.noondaycollection.com

You can also work with me to host a trunk show, and while YOU get free and half price items, it gives ME the opportunity to advocate for these artisans and also orphans worldwide. Click here to learn more about that!

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See how this is a win-win-win in every way you slice it?

 

Kid-Friendly Sugar Cookie Recipe + Decorating

Last Halloween, Evie and I had the most fun afternoon making these sugar cookies together. They are so easy, and come together really quickly too (they only take 7 minutes to bake!), making them the perfect parent-kid holiday tradition. We made them again at Christmas, and of course we had to do them again for Evie’s Valentine’s Day party for her little preschool friends.

I love this recipe so much that Evie and I were invited to share our experience at our local Whole Foods here in Birmingham last Christmas. We had the best morning meeting new friends, sipping cocoa, and going crazy with frosting and sprinkles. If you were there that morning, you took home a copy of the recipe, but here it is for those who weren’t there with us!  Thank you Whole Foods Birmingham for providing our ingredients, because we all know that the better the ingredients, the better the cookies will taste!

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Kid-Friendly Sugar Cookies
Yield: About 3-4 dozen, depending on the size of your cookie cutters
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar (I used the 365 Organic cane sugar, which gives it a slightly different texture, but regular white granulated sugar works great!)
2 eggs
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

-Preheat oven to 375. ­
-In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda, whisking to thoroughly combine. ­- -Cream butter and sugar using a stand mixer.
-Add in eggs and vanilla extract, mixing till combined.
-Add sour cream and mix until combined. ­
-Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until it all comes together in a thick dough.
-Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead slightly until all of the crumbly bits are incorporated and the dough is smooth. ­
-Roll dough onto floured surface to about ¼” thick.
-Cut out using floured cookie cutters and transfer to a parchment­-lined baking sheet. ­
-Bake for only 7 minutes for a 3” cookie (more or less depending on size of cookies). If the cookie starts to brown on the edges, then they’ve baked too long!
-Let cool slightly. ­Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting and decorating.

Kid-Friendly Participation: Let the kiddo whisk together the dry ingredients, help them roll out the dough, and they love to dip the cutters in a pile of flour and press them into the dough.

Easy Buttercream
1 stick unsalted sweet cream butter
1 pound of confectioner’s sugar
8-­10 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract or ½ pod of scraped vanilla bean ­

-Cream together butter and 1 cup of powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. ­
-Add 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time, alternating with milk, until desired consistency. ­(Add more sugar for a thick buttercream, add more milk for a thinner buttercream.)
-Add vanilla and mix till incorporated.

Kid-Friendly Participation: Measure out the milk for them and let them add it in the mixer, alternating with you adding the sugar. 

Once your cookies are baked and cooled, it’s time to load on the frosting and sprinkles. Since we made these for our friends instead of just our family, I felt like I needed to handle the frosting, because, well, Evie would lick some off the spatula before putting it on the cookies. So I frosted, and she sprinkled. WFcookies4

Look how sweet her sprinkles turned out!

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When Evie decided that she had had enough and was ready to move onto the next thing in her life (she’s a preschooler after all), I decided to make a batch of royal icing and do some cookie decorating myself. This is very cathartic for me personally, and not something I often get the chance to do, so don’t feel like this is something anyone will actually be expecting you to do! Here’s my easy royal icing recipe in case you want to try your hand at it:

Easy Royal Icing
Yield: About 1.5 cups, depending on liquidity of eggs and how thick or thin you make it
1 egg white
1 pound of confectioner’s sugar
Lemon juice

Put the egg white in a large bowl. Add in sugar 1 cup at a time until you reach your desired consistency. You’ll want a somewhat thick consistency for what I did below. If it gets too thick, just add in a tiny amount of lemon juice to thin it back out. Keep experimenting till it’s just right!

Separate equally into 3 bowls, and add food coloring. Fill piping bags fitted with a small round tip. Pipe the outline of the cookie and flood the outline with icing. If you have gaps or if it’s not smooth, use a toothpick to smooth it out. If you want your colors to be separate (like the xox cookie or the arrows), wait until the icing has tried before piping your designs. To make the hearts within the heart below, flood the cookie, then pipe small dots while the icing is still wet. Run a toothpick from top to bottom of the dot and it will make the heart design!WFcookies2WFcookies3

Happy Valentine’s Day! And thanks again Whole Foods for letting Evie and me invade your cafe to share the fun!

{Waffle Wednesday} Valentine’s Day Edition: Buttermilk-Cherry Waffles

This waffle recipe is a twist on classic blueberry waffles, instead using crushed cherries and all of the good juices inside, and topped with sweet fresh whipped cream to balance the sour and the sweet. I used jarred Morello cherries from Trader Joe’s, but you can use whatever variety of cherries you can find, but I would definitely use a dark variety, and frozen is fine too! (But stay away from the bright red Maraschinos, those are more for topping sundaes than for baking!)

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Buttermilk-Cherry Waffles with Fresh Whipped Cream
Yield: 4 large waffles
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup corn starch
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or vanilla bean paste (better than extract!)
1 cup jarred Morello cherries
Half pint of heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup granulated sugar (more or less, depending on how sweet you want your whipped cream to be.)
Dark Chocolate (optional)

A note about batter consistency: waffles are really forgiving. If your batter is a little to thick or a little too thin, chances are good it will still turn out just fine. If you ever feel like the consistency really is off though, gradually add in a little more flour if it’s too thin, or a little water or milk to thin it out if too thick. 

-Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and whisk thoroughly to distribute ingredients.
-Add buttermilk and oil to mixture and stir to combine.
-Add eggs one at a time, mixing till incorporated.
-Stir in vanilla extra or paste
-Crush the cherries using the back of a spoon, then add in cherries and the juice. (Note: crushing the cherries to this consistency will let the waffles maintain the flavor, without the overwhelming bite of a whole cherry in your waffle.)
-Pour batter into waffle iron and press till golden brown.
-To make the whipped cream, whip the heavy cream in a mixer using the whisk attachment, slowly adding in the sugar to taste once the cream starts to thicken. For best results, make sure the cream, bowl, and whisk are all chilled.
-Top warm waffles with fresh whipped cream, and grate a little bit of chocolate on top, because it’s Valentine’s Day, and that is just a classy move.

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{Waffle Wednesday} Dark Side/Light Side Waffles (and why I am genetically a Jedi)

The Dark Side of The Force or the Light Side of The Force. They say you must choose. But, when it comes to these waffles, you actually don’t.

One side is a dark chocolate waffle, and the other side is a sweet Belgium waffle. It’s actually a pretty simple technique, and makes for a fun breakfast for your favorite Jedi or Sith! You can use a traditional waffle maker, or use this one like I did (thanks Ashley!), or even this one.

May the Force be with you.

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Dark Side/Light Side Waffles
Yield: 4 Waffles
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup corn starch
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk (note: you might need a couple extra tablespoons later)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate chunks
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder

A note about batter consistency: waffles are really forgiving. If your batter is a little too thick, just add extra milk or even water; if it’s too thin, add some more flour.

-Combine flour, corn starch, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; whisk to combine and distribute ingredients.
-Make a well in the middle and add milk, oil, eggs, and extract; stir to combine.
-Pour half of the batter into a clean bowl, and stir in chocolate chunks and cocoa powder. As noted above, if the batter is a too thick, just add a little bit of milk to bring it to pourable, yet still thick, consistency.
-To make these waffles double-sided, simply pour in half of the usual amount of the chocolate batter into your waffle maker, then press it for a just a minute to par-cook it. Open the waffle maker, and spoon the regular waffle batter on top of the chocolate. Close it and press till it’s cooked through and golden brown.
-I thought it was fun to serve these with a choice of maple syrup, for those who use our powers for good, and chocolate ganache for those who use our powers for evil. (Here’s an easy chocolate ganache recipe for you.)

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So here is why The Force is genetically with me:
CarrieFisherGeneologyAs we all know, Carrie’s mom is the legendary Debbie Reynolds. Debbie’s maternal grandmother was a Prigmore, and my mother is a Prigmore. Joseph Prigmore, born 1720, is my great great great great great grandfather, and her great great great great grandfather. (Fun fact: his grandfather, John Pridmore, who was born 1660 in All Hallow’s Barking Parrish, London, known more commonly now as All Hallows By The Tower, and the church there was spared in the Great London Fire thanks to William Penn, and still stands on Byward Street to this very day!)

So it basically goes: Joseph had Daniel, Daniel had Thomas, Thomas had Joseph Martin, Joseph Martin had Pearl, Pearl had Raymond, Raymond had Mary Frances (Debbie!), and Debbie had Carrie.

And for me, it goes: Joseph had another Joseph, Joseph had Ephraim, Ephraim had yet another Joseph, that Joseph had John, John had Edwin, Edwin had James, James had a beautiful lady Teresa, and Teresa had me!

I AM A JEDI. Actually I’m a Prigmore, and so is Carrie. Here is our Coat of Arms:
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Christmas with InSinkErator

I’ve been working on some fun holiday content for InSinkErator, yes, the garbage disposals! They have partnered up with the brilliant minds at Big Communications here in Birmingham, it’s been a lot of fun to work with everyone. Head over to south.insinkerator.com for all the recipes, crafts, entertaining tips, and more!

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