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Riley Heruska
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Packing lunches for school kids is never easy, especially if you're packing for picky eaters. It's often tempting to just send kids off and let them fend for themselves in the school lunchline. The problem is, you don't want them eating fried cheese sticks and hamburgers every day. Arming them with a homemade lunch is always the healthier option, and it saves money on overpriced slices of pizza or boxes of chocolate milk. 

Here are a few tasty ideas recommended by other moms that will make packing a lunch easy, and your kid might even get a kick out of them. 

Fruit and Peanut Butter Wraps 

Sure, your kid might not be into lettuce wraps, but that doesn't mean you can't pile some bananas and peanut butter onto a whole-wheat wrap. Add a splash of honey to really jazz things up. It's basically a peanut butter sandwich, but it's a little more special and a tiny bit healthier. Your little one will probably love eating it burrito-style. 

Hard Boiled Eggs 

Not only are eggs super affordable, but they're also really healthy. Boil a few and pop them in your kids' lunches. Add a pinch of salt and voila! A nutritious and cheap addition to any packed lunch. 

Meat and Cheese Quesadillas

It takes about five minutes to heat up a quesadilla with nutritious ingredients inside. If your kid isn't too picky, you can add spinach or other veggies to the mixture. At a bare minimum, get some protein in there and call it good. Pack a side of salsa to really kick things up a notch. 

"Fancy" Skewers 

Presentation is key when it comes to engaging picky eaters. Slide some cubed chicken, cheese, and veggies onto a skewer for a fun alternative. Just warn them not to transform those skewers into play swords at the lunch table after they finish eating... 

Make-Your-Own Lunchables 

Invest in Tupperware that makes an at-home meal look like something store bought. Trust me, kids fall for tricks like that. Fill the tray with a source of meat, cheese, crackers, and some other fun toppings. Kids will have a blast putting the meal together at school, and it will be healthier than a real Lunchable. 

Funny Sandwiches 

Like I said, presentation is key! So if you do decide to stick to regular sandwiches, make things a little entertaining. Use cookie cutters to make interesting shapes like a heart or star. No little one can resist something as cute as mini sandwiches in funny shapes. 


Do you have other go-to lunch ideas for school kids? Leave suggestions in the comments below!

Riley Heruska
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Starting to feel a little underwhelmed by your options on Netflix? Never fear, the company will be adding a large selection of new shows, movies, and documentaries over the course of the following month. Which September additions are you most excited to binge-watch?

Netflix Original Films and Shows

Final Fantasy XIV Dad of Light: Season 1 (September 1)

Lego Elves: Secrets of Elvendale: Season 1 (September 1)

Little Evil (September 1)

Narcos: Season 3 (September 1)

Resurface (September 1)

Marc Maron: Too Real (September 5)

#realityhigh (September 8)

BoJack Horseman: Season 4 (September 8)

The Confession Tapes: Season 1 (September 8)

Fabrizio Copano: Solo Pienso En Mi (September 8)

Greenhouse Academy: Season 1 (September 8)

Joaquín Reyes: Una y no más (September 8)

Spirit: Riding Free: Season 2 (September 8)

Jeff Dunham: Relative Disaster (September 12)

American Vandal: Season 1 (September 15)

First They Killed My Father (September 15)

Project Mc²: Part 5 (September 15)

Strong Island (September 15)

VeggieTales in the City: Season 2 (September 15)

Jerry Before Seinfeld (September 19)

Fuller House (New Episodes) (September 22)

Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father: Season 1 (September 22)

Terrace House: Aloha State: Part 4 (September 26)

Big Mouth: Season 1 (September 29)

Club de Cuervos: Season 3 (September 29)

Gerald’s Game (September 29)

Real Rob: Season 2 (September 29)

The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Season 1 (September 29)

Paul Hollywood’s Big Continental Road Trip: Season 1 (September 29)

Our Souls at Night (September 29)


Television Shows

Maniac: Season 1

Shaquille O'Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam: Live from Atlanta (September 1)

Shaquille O'Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam: Live from Dallas (September 1)

Shaquille O'Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam: Live from Las Vegas (September 1)

Shaquille O'Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam: Live from Orlando (September 1)

Shaquille O'Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam: Live from South Beach (September 1)

West Coast Customs: Season 5 (September 1)

The Blacklist: Season 4  (September 7)

Apaches: Season 1 (September 8)

Fire Chasers: Season 1 (September 8)

Portlandia: Season 7 (September 9)

Offspring: Season 7 (September 13)

Call the Midwife: Series 6 (September 18)

Gotham: Season 3 (September 21)

Dark Matter: Season 3 (September 25)

Murder Maps: Season 3 (September 30)


Movies/Documentaries

Amores Perros (September 1)

The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman's Portrait Photography (September 1)

City of God (September 1)

Dead Poets Society (September 1)

Deep Blue Sea (September 1)

Disney's Hercules (September 1)

Disney's Mulan (September 1)

Fracture (September 1)

Gangs of New York (September 1)

Gone Baby Gone (September 1)

High Risk (September 1)

Hoodwinked (September 1)

Hotel for Dogs (September 1)

Jaws (September 1)

Jaws 2 (September 1)

Jaws 3 (September 1)

Jaws: The Revenge (September 1)

The Last Shaman (September 1)

The Lost Brother (September 1)

Outside Man: Volume 2 (September 1)

Pulp Fiction (September 1)

Requiem for a Dream (September 1)

The Rugrats Movie (September 1)

The Secret Garden (September 1)

She's Gotta Have It (September 1)

The Squid and the Whale (September 1)

Who the F**K Is That Guy (September 1)

Vincent N Roxxy (September 2)

Graduation (September 4)

Carrie Pilby (September 5)

Facing Darkness (September 5)

Like Crazy (September 5)

Newsies: The Broadway Musical (September 5)

A Good American (September 6)

Hard Tide (September 6)

The Forgotten (September 11)

Ghost of the Mountains (September 13)

Disney’s Pocahontas (September 14)

Foo Fighters: Back and Forth (September 15)

George Harrison: Living in the Material World (September 15)

Larceny (September 15)

Rumble (September 15)

The Journey Is the Destination (September 18)

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (September 19)

Love, Sweat and Tears (September 19)

Carol (September 20)

The Samaritan (September 22)

Alien Arrival (September 23)

Bachelorette (September 26)

Night School (September 26)

Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan (September 26)

Absolutely Anything (September 27)

 

So what additions are you the most excited about? Let us know in the comments below!

Riley Heruska
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With hundreds of books hitting bookstore shelves every month, it can be difficult to sift through new releases for the best finds. That’s why we’ve done the heavy lifting for you! Here are ten of the most popular novels that were published in August. 

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaugther

When Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town home life was torn apart by a vicious attack, which left their mother dead, their lives were changed forever. Their father was broken, and from then on, their family was consumed by secrets from that fateful night. Twenty-eight years later, Charlotte has become a lawyer, and when violence strikes their hometown again, her life becomes a nightmare. Turns out most secrets can’t stay buried forever.

“Simply one of the best thriller writers working today. I’d follow her anywhere.” - Gillian Flynn

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

The author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas has done it again. Cyril Avery was born out of wedlock to a teenage mother, and he has spent most of his life adrift in the world. His one lifeline is to Julian Woodbead, a glamorous friend. Set in Ireland during the 1940s, this tale of redemption will have you laughing and crying.

“This is nothing less than the story of Ireland over the past 70 years, expressed in the life of one man… highly entertaining and often very funny… Big and clever.” - The Times Sunday Review

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

Young Turtle Alveston loves exploring the northern coast of California, from creeks and tide pools to rocky islands where no one is around. She’s always isolated herself since the death of her mother, and middle school provides no relief for her. When she meets Jacob, a high school boy who tells funny jokes and makes Turtle feel like she hung the moon, her life begins to change. She begins to draw away from her unpredictable, tortured father, and in the process, discovers that maybe she can become the hero she’s always needed.

“The magnificent, inhospitable landscape of northern California is itself a character here… a fast-paced adventure story… [a] strange and remarkable book.” - The Guardian

The Color Project by Sierra Abrams

Teenage Bernice has never liked her name, but when she meets handsome Levi and he keeps trying to guess it, she ends up falling for his persistence (and charm). She’s never felt so attached to someone, and the intensity of her feelings scares her. When news of an unexpected illness hits Bree’s family, she becomes lost in a world of chaos and needs Levi more than ever. A tale of family, friendship, and romance, The Color Project will touch your heart.

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo 

As soon as they met at university, Yejide and Akin fell in love. They got married, and although many thought Akin would take several wives, the couple decided that polygamy wasn’t an option for them. Then, four years after their wedding, Yejide is still having trouble becoming pregnant. When a woman shows up at their house and introduces herself as Akin’s second wife, Yejide takes desperate measures to get pregnant and save her marriage. Emotional and intense, this novel tackles the sacrifices we make for family.

“Affecting and powerful… Adebayo’s prose is a pleasure: immediate, unpretentious and flecked with whip-smart Nigerian-English dialogue. She handles weighty themes with an absence of sentimentality.” - Sunday Times 

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

When Isma accepts an invitation from a mentor in America to resume one of her lifelong dreams, she feels immense relief. She’s spent years caring for her younger siblings, but now, she has a chance at freedom. When her brother resurfaces and appears to be following the legacy of the jihadist father he never knew, Isma fears the worst. Then the son of a powerful political figure enters Isma’s life, and she wonders: what will she do in the name of love?

“Urgent and explosive… near perfect… a difficult book to put down.” - NPR

Wish You Were Here by Renee Carlino 

Charlotte has hopped from interest to interest, job to job, man to man. She’s spent most of her twenties untethered to anything specific, but she knows she’s looking for something more. When she collides with Adam, a painter who seems to be as lost as she is, she is caught up in an entirely new kind of excitement. Months later, after that fateful evening with Adam, she still hasn’t been able to shake the thought of him, so she decides to find out what happened after their blissful night together. Little does she know that her decision will play a role in the wild love story to come.

“[Readers] will find themselves simply smitten by both the novel in front of them and the story within the story. Romance readers and women’s fiction fans should snap up this charming love story.” - Booklist 

The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas

Annie has never completely fallen for a guy… that is until she met Jack. It’s not just a spark with him: it’s a blazing fire. She’s overwhelmed by the intensity of their relationship, but as she uncovers more secrets about this dangerous man, she realizes that a relationship with him is most likely impossible. Can she resist the urge to be with him?

“A brave, cutting-edge romance… This is a worthwhile read.” - Library Journal

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

Set in the 1850s, The Bedlam Stacks tells the story of Merrick Tremayne, an ex-East India Company smuggler who sustained an injury to his leg. When he is recruited by the India Office for an expedition to fetch an essential ingredient for the treatment of malaria in Peru, he doesn’t feel good about the plan. After all, most people who’ve attempted this expedition have died trying. Still, he sets out into the Amazon rainforest in search of the ingredient. There, he must separate truth from legend, friend from foe, and magic from danger.

“[A] witty, entrancing novel… Pulley makes the fantastic feel plausible and burnishes her reputation as a gifted storyteller.” - Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

One hundred years ago, two young English girls convinced the world that they had captured fairies on film in their garden. Their parents were astounded, and when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed the photos were real, the girls became national celebrities. Nearly a century later, Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop and becomes fascinated by the story of these two girls. The lines between the past and present begin to blur, as do the lines between what is fantasy and what is real.

“Beautifully written and expertly researched, Gaynor’s latest is a look at one of history’s most intriguing mysteries and an important reminder of the power of belief.” - Booklist

Riley Heruska
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In 1882, thousands of workers marched in New York City in advocation of basic work environment safety and necessities. Now, we commemorate that historic day on the first Monday of every September. It's America's "workingmen's holiday," and most of us use it to kick back and take advantage of some hard-earned rest. 

Many people flock to the lake, pool parties, and barbecues to celebrate, but those aren't the only ways to take advantage of the upcoming three-day weekend. Here are a few other ideas that will make this Labor Day stand out. 

Set Up an Outdoor Movie Night

Texas evenings are finally starting to cool down a little, so take advantage of the weather and host your movie marathon outside! All you need is a white sheet and a little projector to create your own outdoor theater. Don't forget the bug spray or those mosquitos will have a little celebration of their own. 

Experiment With Some Festive Cocktails 

Nothing screams "holiday" like a festive, one-of-a-kind drink in your hand. Whip up a unique sangria with your leftover watermelon or turn a classic mojito into a slushie. For a list of great drink ideas, you can check out this link

Volunteer for a Worthwhile Cause

Now, I know we just agreed that Labor Day is for relaxing, but now is also a great time to get involved. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, many shelters, food banks, blood banks, and other nonprofits are looking for some extra hands. If you don't have any plans for your long weekend, see what you can do to help. It can be as simple as gathering some old clothes from your closet to give away or dropping off some canned foods at a donation center. 

Spend It Stocking Up on Great Deals 

Many stores crank out great sales during the holiday and the days leading up to it. End-of-season clothing discounts are especially easy to come by, so revamp your wardrobe a little. Why wait until Black Friday when stores like Old Navy have marked clothing 40 percent off and more? Shoes also fall under the clothing category, so treat yourself to some new kicks. Outside of the clothing department, there are also some great mattress and home sales. For a list of great home sales, click here

Take a Last Minute Trip

Believe it or not, there are some awesome flight deals out there right now. It's not too late to book a long weekend to San Francisco or somewhere Flordia. Spirit Airlines has a list of Labor Day Weekend flight sales, and you can check this link to find some of the cheapest destinations to check out this weekend.

Visit the Nearest State or National Park 

Whether you love camping or just want to spend a couple hours in a new environment, traveling to one of the Texas parks is a great way to make memories. Our state has two national parks: Big Bend and the Guadalupe Mountains. There are also 54 state parks! If you're tired of Texas or just want to tackle a longer road trip, make your way to Arkansas or Oklahoma to check out their scenic parks. 


How are you spending your Labor Day? Leave other ideas in the comments below!

Riley Heruska
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As most everyone already knows, one of the most powerful hurricanes in U.S. history has hit our home state. Thousands of people have been left stranded and are without access to shelter, electricity, food, and medical aid. As many as 30,000 people may be forced into shelters due to lingering floods. As of this morning, the U.S. Coast Guard has performed more than 2,000 multi-person rescues. The calls for help haven't stopped coming, and it looks like they might not for a while. 

Although members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as the Red Cross and many other services, have been deployed to assist Texans in need, there is still a lot to be done. Here's what you can do to help from wherever you may be. 

Send Money to Organizations That Are Helping

Any amount that you can give is beneficial to those who are struggling. The Salvation Army is accepting financial donations online, or you can call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. You can also donate online to Save the Children, which has set up a relief fund for kids and families. The Houston Mayor has established a Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, as has JJ Watt. Portlight is a local organization that works with disabled people who've been affected by the disaster, and the SPCA of Texas is supporting animals and their owners who have been displaced by the storm. You can also give to The American Red Cross by simply texting HARVEY to 90999. For a more extensive list of places to donate, visit this link

Offer Shelter to Others If You Can 

Airbnb is offering free housing to those in the affected areas who are in dire need. They are also requesting donations for these homes. If you can, extend your home to those who have been displaced from their own. If you know of a local shelter, spread the word by mouth and on social media. For a list of available shelters in the Houston area, click here. There are shelters throughout the coastal area, as well as in Austin and Dallas

Bring Essentials to Food Banks or Shelters

Hurricane Harvey victims are in need of many basic items, from baby diapers to canned foods. If you can bring toiletries, nonperishable foods, baby supplies, or anything useful, people will appreciate the aid. Not sure where to donate? Here are a few reliable places to consider: 

Galveston County Food Bank
Food Bank of Corpus Christi
Houston Food Bank
Texas Diaper Bank 
Donation Center in Dallas (15660 North Dallas Parkway) 
Food Bank of the Golden Crescent (Victoria)
Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley (Pharr)
Brazos Valley Food Bank (Bryan)
Central Texas Food Bank (Austin)
San Antonio Food Bank

Donate Blood 

The Community Blood Center of the Ozarks, as well as other blood centers, have put out a call for blood supplies. More than 2,500 units of blood have already been requested, and more is going to be needed. People with type O blood (the universal donors) are especially encouraged to donate to the nearest blood bank. Agencies say that Houston and Corpus Christi are going to experience blood shortages for the remainder of the week, so any donation helps. For more information on the blood supply recovery efforts, you can visit this website. If you live in North Texas, you can text DONATE4LIFE to 444-999 and a Carter BloodCare employee will you tell you when and where you can donate. 


Know of other ways we can band together and help our fellow Texans? Leave suggestions in the comments below! 

Riley Heruska
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With school starting up again, teens are about to have much less free time for lounging around while reading a good book. However, that doesn't mean recreational reading has to come to a complete halt! Here are a few intense sci-fi novels that will have any teen on the edge of their seat, dreaming about worlds beyond. 

Illiuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff 

When the planet of an illegal mining settlement is brutally attacked, only a few hundred survivors make it into escape ships. As they embark on a journey to escape their attackers and seek help from distant space stations, the survivors realize that not everything on their two ships is as it seems. Told through various points of view, Illuminae stretches the imagination and forces readers to contemplate science, humanity, and so much more. The novel is crafted through a series of military files, artistic renderings of artificial intelligence, interviews, and most predominantly, instant messages. Therefore, it's unlike anything you've ever read. Described as "heart-stopping," this is one heroic tale you don't want to miss. 

Red Rising by Pierce Brown 

In Darrow's world, everyone is divided by caste. He is a Red, the lowest of the low, and is forced to do physical labor while those above him reap the benefits. After he faces a great tragedy, he gives up the life he knows and attempts to infiltrate The Institute. There, he struggles with members of the top caste, Gold, and begins to alter the balance of power in his injustice society. Emotional and incredibly intelligent, Red Rising will have you gasping aloud and racing to finish the story. Although it's probably not appropriate for younger teens due to pretty heavy violence, older teens will get a real kick out of Darrow's brave character and the extreme scenarios he faces. 

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey 

They 
have invaded Earth, and only a small percentage of the human population exists after the devastating aftermath of their arrival. No one knows who they are for sure or what they want, but one thing is clear: no remaining human is safe. Cassie, a teenage girl who managed to survive the initial invasion, wanders the woods alone. She believes going solo is the only way to stay alive, especially since some of the invaders look like regular humans. When she meets Evan Walker and learns that she may be able to save the brother she lost, she must decide whether to trust a stranger or to give up on the only family she has left. Although there is a movie adaptation of this novel, don't let that deceive you: the book is always better. 

Across the Universe by Beth Revis 

When 17-year-old Amy awakes on the vast spaceship Godspeed, she knows something has gone terribly wrong: She was supposed to sleep for another fifty years until the ship reached a new planet. Someone else on the ship woke her up and tried to kill her, and if she doesn't figure out who is behind the incident, everyone else sleeping aboard the ship may be in danger. Her number one suspect, Elder, is supposed to inherit leadership of the ship while it is in transit. However, things get more complicated than Amy could ever have imagined, and she must decide whether to follow her heart or her gut. Brilliantly told, Across the Universe is a futuristic love-story that's both provoking and entertaining. 

Cinder by Marissa Meyer 

This retelling of the Cinderella tale is unlike any other you've heard before. 16-year-old Cinder has been a cyborg for as long as she can remember, and she faces the benefits and struggles of her condition. Her stepmother and many other members of society view her as a freak, but she also has the uncanny ability to fix everything from robots to spaceships. When the prince of New Beijing needs some repairs done, Cinder enters a world of political turmoil and dangerous secrets. Extremely original, Cinder is a fast-paced novel that thousands of readers have devoured. 


What are your favorite young adult science fiction novels? Leave other recommendations in the comments! 

Riley Heruska
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We all know how important physical activity is. It can help you control your weight, decrease your risk of serious diseases, strengthen your body, and even improve your attitude towards life (thanks, endorphins). Unfortunately, most of us just aren't the kind of people who can willingly drag ourselves from the comfort of our couch to go run a mile or lift weights. Gyms are uncomfortable, especially if you don't feel confident in your fitness levels. I mean, who wants to spend an hour sweating bullets and comparing themselves to everyone around? No, thank you. In other states, we could probably turn to more outdoorsy exercise methods, but unless you want to melt into a puddle on the sidewalk, it's best to exercise inside during the summer months of Texas. 

If you are one of those people who can push themselves to hit the gym every day or get active in the blazing summer heat, then kudos to you! The rest of us, however, often feel like we're dragging ourselves to a dreaded workout that's time-consuming and just a little bit soul-sucking. It's especially hard to implement a fitness routine when you groan at the mere thought of lacing up your tennis shoes, and more often than not, the temptation to avoid exercising in general wins. 

So, how can you stay fit and avoid workouts that feel like a punishment? Here are a few ideas! 

Find Water-Based Activites That Are Actually Enjoyable 

We Texans love our lake sports and swimming pools, but not everyone has access to a jet ski or likes doing laps. Fortunately, there are tons of ways to get active around water, and most of them are pretty cheap. Rent a kayak and spend your day paddling around a river you've never explored. Check out one of the natural springs in Texas, like the famous Hamilton Pool. The goal is to find a body of water and do whatever floats your boat (I know, that's a terrible pun). The more you're enjoying exploring the waters, the less you'll think about the exercise you're engaging in. 

Embrace the Stairs As Your New BFF 

Tired of reaching the third floor and feeling completely out of breath? Well, every time you take the stairs, your heart rate leaps up a little and your body engages in core muscle building. It's no wonder the elevator often seems like such a good idea. However, the more you tackle the stairs, the more toned your body will be. Sure, it won't equate to lifting weights every day or anything, but it will make a small difference in the number of calories you burn each day, as well as the strength of your glutes and hamstrings. It's a simple way to make a healthier choice during your day-to-day activities. 

Find a Class That's More Fun Than Pain 

So maybe that spin class makes you dread Wednesdays with a passion, but there are so many options when it comes to taking an entertaining class. Experiment with a couple and find one that helps distract you from the workout your body is getting. There are tons of classes out there that will do the job, from intense dance courses to competitive weight-training instruction. Everyone enjoys different things, so try a few out and discover what gets your mind off of the discomfort of burning muscles and fast heartbeats. 

Forget That You Have a Car Whenever You Can 

In Texas, most of us rely on our vehicles for everything. It's not easy to get around the suburbs without a mode of transportation, and even our cities are difficult to navigate on foot. However, when you can, try to walk. If you're in the mall and the store you want to visit is on the opposite end, don't repark on the other side. Get moving and make your own way there! Speaking of parking, don't always try to get the absolute closest parking space. Sometimes, park a little further just to get your blood pumping. I'm not saying you need to start walking the 10 miles to work every day. Just try to walk whenever and wherever you can! It truly will make a difference. 


How do you get moving without heading to the gym? Leave your personal fitness recommendations in the comments below! 

Riley Heruska
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A few months ago, we talked about the impact our cheap shopping habits has on our environment. On average, Americans send more than ten million tons of clothing to the dump every year, which is insane. So, with back-to-school shopping and fall fashion trends just around the corner, how can you purchase clothing without feeling guilty about the negative effects? 

Well, there are quite a few clothing companies that are making a huge effort to give back to our world while still producing affordable clothes. Check out some of these inspirational brands and see if you can purchase some new trendy items and give back to a worthy cause!

FEED Projects 

Founded in 2007, this brand is fighting against world hunger by creating quality bags. Every time a product is purchased from FEED, the company provides meals to children in countries where not every student has food. The bags themselves are produced in underprivileged countries like Haiti, India, and Peru. Their bags are affordable and well-made, so you'll be happy with your purchase and the donation you're making! So far, the company has donated more than 95 million meals to kids in need. 

Ivory Ella 

Between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 elephants were killed in Africa for the ivory. That's why Ivory Ella, a clothing brand for women, has partnered with Save the Elephants. Every time you purchase an item from Ivory Ella, a portion of the proceeds goes toward protecting wild elephants in Africa. The store carries everything from adorable sweatpants to accessories for your dorm room! It's the perfect place to go shopping before heading off to college, and you'll know that you helped an endangered animal species. 

Beza Threads

Did you know that as many as 27 million people suffer under the oppression of modern slavery today? This company is helping to bring redemption and freedom to those enslaved people. If you purchase one of their scarves for around $30, you'll be helping preserve human dignity and supporting locals in Ethiopia. Each scarf is hand-made by multiple teenagers and 100 percent of the funding goes to people in need. 

Twice as Warm

By making high-quality products in the USA that are sure to keep you toasty during the winter, Twice as Warm strives to benefit local shelters and organizations in need of clothing for cold weather. They sell scarves, hats, and gloves. By wearing one of their products, you'll give to someone else in need. Right now, if you sign up for the email list, you'll get 15% off your order, so go stock up on cozy items! 

Makai Clothing Co. 

Every year, thousands of baby turtles hatch on land along the U.S. coast and make a dangerous journey to the Atlantic Ocean. In recent years, only about 10% of young sea turtles survive due to natural and human-caused threats. As a result, U.S. sea turtles are federally listed as endangered. By shopping at Makai Clothing, you'll help protect turtles! 10 percent of all the brand's proceeds go toward sea turtle conservation. Plus, their products are really cute. 

Serengetee 

Established in 2012 by two men who studied abroad, this company is changing the way the world uses fabrics. When you buy from Serengetee, you'll be purchasing fabric from over 25 countries and giving back to a diverse range of important causes. Browse their impressive collection of t-shirts, hats, towels, and more! Right now, if you spend more than $15 (which is easy to do), you can benefit from free shipping! 

Out of Print

Every book nerd needs to visit this site ASAP. This company makes adorable t-shirts, pins, children's clothing, bags, and more, and they're all designed to showcase your favorite literary pieces! Buy a Where the Wild Things Are onesie as a baby gift or show off your love for Agatha Christie on a shirt. Seriously, their products are too cool. Can you tell I'm a big reader? Anyway, not only does Out of Print produce fun items, but they also help fund literacy programs for communities in need. 


These are just a handful of the great clothing companies out there that are trying to make a difference. Which ones do you love to support? Spread the word in the comments below, and happy shopping! 

Riley Heruska
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With fall fashion trends on the horizon, it's tempting to embrace sweaters and boots as soon as possible. After all, retailers and magazines are more than ready to embrace autumn styles!

However, we Texans know that we've still got a few months of heat to deal with before diving into warmer clothes. No one understands that more than these bloggers, who love all things Texas and fashion. Check out their websites for some style inspiration, as well as friendly advice and entertainment. 

Ali Schilling from A Dash of Details 

This 20-something blogger loves finding beauty in the small aspects of life. She calls Highland Park home with her two puppies and husband, and she's been making a name for herself in the world of lifestyle blogging for years. One look at her Instagram or website and you'll want to redo your entire wardrobe to match hers. I certainly can't get enough of her pretty flower photos and light, airy style. 

Courtney Shields from Bring Your Own Beauty 

Courtney claims she's had a knack for all things beauty since she was young, and her blog only seems to prove that statement true. She shares everything from her personal style to product recommendations from her home in Austin, Texas. Recently, she's been documenting her pregnancy experience and providing tips and tricks to other women who are expecting. Honestly, any reader can spend ages scrolling through her posts and learning about this charismatic blogger's life. Definitely check out her website or Instagram for some lifestyle inspiration. 

Kristina Braly from Kristina Braly 

Formerly known as Pretty Shiny Sparkly, this Texas-based blog offers a look into the ups and downs of Kristina's life as a writer, YouTuber, mother-to-be, and physician! Phew, that's a mouthful. You'll be impressed by her list of achievements (she founded the Bloggers Do It Better movement and more!), as well as her excellent recommendations for all things beauty and fashion. Visit her website or Instagram to learn more. 

Brooke Burnett from One Small Blonde 

This fashion blogger went to school in Dallas and then fell in love with the city. She started her own digital marketing agency, Muse Media, then went on to establish her own fashion blog as a creative outlet. She sums up her style in three words: simple, sophisticated, and chic. One look at her blog and you'll agree. Check out her Instagram or website for daily outfit ideas and a dose of life advice. 

Jane Aldridge from Sea of Shoes

It's not an exaggeration to say that Jane was ahead of the curve when it comes to fashion blogging. She started her blog when she was just sixteen, and she's become world-famous for her stylish influence and impeccable taste. She and her fiance, Jeff, live in Dallas. Turns out, she wasn't the first in her family to stake a claim in the blogosphere: Her mother is the popular home interior blogger Judy Aldridge (Atlantis Home). To learn more about Jane and her style, visit her website or Instagram

Jessi Afshin from The Darling Detail 

This style and inspiration blogger loves everything to do with fashion photography, and she's amassed quite a following through her successful blog. At just 24 years old, she's already expanded her blog to include five team members based in Austin, Texas. Visit her website and Instagram, but be warned: You'll probably become addicted to scrolling through her posts, which are full of positive statements and effortlessly assembled outfits. 

Nicole Kestenbaum from Lipstick and Brunch 

Although Nicole was born in Honduras, she's lived in Texas for more than eight years and now calls Houston home. She uses her little corner of the web to share outfit ideas and encouragement for curvy, petite women. She's written about everything from becoming a mother to the best products to travel with. Colorful and positive, this blog will make you smile, as will Nicole. Visit her website or Instagram to learn more. 


So, what fashion gurus do you turn to? Leave any other recommendations in the comments below! 

Riley Heruska
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Let's be real: Autumn weather won't really roll into Texas for a few more months, but we can dream of smoky campfires and crisp breezes, right? Plus, it never hurts to plan the perfect camping trip in advance. With two national parks, multiple state parks, and dozens of recreational sites, there's really no excuse not to schedule some much-needed outdoors time this fall. 

Not a fan pitching tents and doing things the normal way? Here are five camping spots you might not have heard of, and they'll definitely provide a camping trip unlike any other. 

Explore New Heights With Cypress Valley Canopy Tours 

Ever wanted to sleep up among the tree tops? This unique setting will allow you to do just that and so much more. Reserve a night in one of their tree house rooms, then spend your time zip lining, swimming in the camp's pool, dashing across swinging bridges, or taking in the view from the deck. The owners are extremely responsive, and travelers highly recommend shelling out the money to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Located in Spicewood, the attraction is only about 4 hours away from the Houston area. 

Sleep in a Solar-Powered Eco Dome

In Terlingua, right outside of Big Bend National Park, guests can spend a night in an unusual accommodation. This dome runs completely on solar power and comes equipped with everything you could need, from WiFi to running water. Even so, you'll definitely feel like you've taken a step away from society. Out in the middle of nowhere, you can stargaze to your heart's content and truly disconnect. Hike the nearby trails then relax in your secluded hideaway. 

Camp Alongside the Wildlife at Fossil Rim 

If you haven't visited Fossil Rim, then at a minimum you'll want to do a drive-through during the day. You'll witness incredible interactions with exotic wildlife from the comfort of your car, and the park itself is impressive to behold. You can take the experience a step further and book a night at one of Fossil Rim's safari camps. Customers describe the tents as comfortable, and you'll be quite close to an active watering hole. Be sure to bring your camera along on this adventure because the photo opportunities will just keep coming! 

Experience a Special Night in a TiPi

Honestly, who doesn't want to say that they've slept in an actual tipi? Not only will you have a unique camping experience, but you'll also find secluded locations that really allow you to unwind in peace. There are several different tipi rentals you can look into, and many are pretty reasonably priced. This one is right on the lake and full of luxurious accommodations! 

Stay in a Family-Friendly Airstream Rental 

Want to get out into nature without fully giving up the luxuries of home? Look into booking at a night in a classic Airstream like this one! It's the perfect getaway for small families or couples, and you'll be able to cook with all the necessary amenities (fridge, oven, dishes, cookware, etc.). Sure, it might not be as authentic as cooking over an open fire, but it will allow you to relax instead of constantly thinking of what to pack and prepare. 


Don't these just make you itch for autumn and late nights under the stars? Look into crafting your own unique camping experience and book accommodations soon!