Small Business Saturday

I want to start writing a little more about other people, and how we can do our part helping from home, if at all possible. I set up a few interviews with nurses — friends and strangers alike — to tell us about what it’s like in the COVID units, but today I want to write about some small businesses worth supporting. It’s been surprisingly difficult for me to find places to support, as I think a lot of them aren’t circulating on social media platforms as much as they could be.

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Barrel Oak Winery
While other businesses pushed to stay open and keep selling their products no matter what, Barrel Oak Winery quietly closed and said that their customer’s health was their number one priority. I absolutely love a company that genuinely cares about its customers, and this winery is particularly amazing because of the love they have for dogs! It’s my favorite winery in Virginia because of all the pups you get to meet when you go to the winery. They’re currently offering free shipping and some pretty good discounts when you buy in bulk. Check out their website today to stock up for the coming weeks of quarantine.

Buskey Cider
This is one of the first places I found strictly from social media. I had been looking for a place to get a few nice summer drinks from, and Busky Cider looked promising, as they had fun flavors of hard cider like tart cherry and peach iced tea. They were super accommodating with delivery, and very friendly and appreciative of business when I called them to set something up. I later learned that they had so much business in my area that they were going to make regular trips back, which is fantastic. If you live somewhere in Virginia, check out their schedule and they are probably delivering near you at some point. They’re really hustling and deserve some good business!

Grocery Delivery
Notice how I didn’t put a company name here? I have found some people on Facebook who have done grocery runs for me, or referred them to friends and family. This is fantastic because the individual gets to keep 100% of the profit, plus the tip. It’s a difficult time for everyone, particularly people who’s livelihood has been affected, so this is a great way to really reward someone for their hard work. I also have looked into it, and it seems like certain big retailers have stepped up during this time to provide hundreds of thousands of jobs, and companies like Walmart are offering good benefits to working during the pandemic. If you use these services, just be sure to tip the best you are able. People who are working out right now deserve hazard pay, and we can provide that by offering generous tips.

All Good Things
I am obsessed with letter writing, journaling, gift giving, and everything of the like. This is the cutest website I found that opened in July 2017. It’s normally open for business in Dallas, TX, but in the meantime you can shop online and follow them on Instagram for some really fun, creative posts.

Pronto
The sisters who created Pronto opened shop in January, and have been still selling online throughout the pandemic. In short, their work does print, ship, design, social, and event branding. Their Instagram is bright and cheery, and offers a little taste of what they do in their feed.


Finally, I know some really fantastic girls who own their own boutiques. If you’re feeling like you want to dress up a little more — or find cute, comfortable loungewear — during these quarantine times, check out each of these and support a small business to update your wardrobe.

August Bay
August Bay is currently having a sale, giving 25% off cozy clothing items that are perfect for relaxing indoors while staying cute. I’ve been conflicted some days of wanting to feel cute and be comfortable, and cute sweats are a perfect marriage of the two. August Bay offers free shipping and returns for all purchases, so there’s no harm in shopping up a storm on their website.

Clothed in Strength
Clothed in Strength is the cutest etsy shop around. From inspirational phrases to Christian messages, these tees are well-made and affordable. There is currently a 15% off discount on the site, too!

Ever Row
Ever Row was created and owned by sisters, and gives the best summer vibes on my Insta feed. It actually usually has 2 stores in South Carolina, so it’s really important to shop online until they’re able to get back to selling things like usual. Right now there’s free shipping on any order. The site is super easy to navigate and fun to shop through.

Mini and Mine
This is the CUTEST site for mommy daughter matching outfits. Mini and Mine was actually started back in February, right before all the COVID-19 stuff started escalating in the United States. It’s a monthly subscription service — that you can start and cancel at any time — that sends you a set of matching tees for your child and you to wear together. It’s such a fun idea, particularly for quarantine pictures in the coming months. Follow their Instagram page to see the last couple of sets — and some pretty cute mother daughter duos.

The ML Edit
The homepage says, “Cabin Fever: shop the chilly day essentials,” which feels perfect for this crisp April day. Check out the company’s Instagram feed for a good feel on what their vibe is, and feel good about your purchases, knowing you’re supporting someone’s livelihood.

Friday Favorites

Man, it’s hard keeping up with writing on here! Not because I don’t have the time or even the energy, but more so because everything I write I end up wanting to keep private or don’t have the heart to finish. Today I figured I’d go back to writing about a few of my favorite things. I was tempted to post five different dogs, but I thought this list would be a little more helpful.


Tony’s Chocolonely. I honestly haven’t had anything better, and they’re a really cool company because they focus on making chocolate humanely. Did you know that slavery is still a huge problem, particularly on cocoa farms? It’s crazy to me that one of my favorite foods is actually hurting others, and I love that Tony’s is committed to making all chocolate become slave-free. Go get a bar of the milk chocolate sea salt caramel today. It is a new necessity for me “that time of the month,” and I’m happy to add it to my survival kit.

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Jax is obviously my favorite chocolate thing on earth, though.

Billie Eilish — specifically “Bad Guy” featuring Justin Bieber. I didn’t know if I should put him as a favorite too because honestly his lines are so darn catchy and remind me why I liked the Biebs so many years ago. Billie is an interesting entertainer because she totally breaks the mold of anything we really see in the pop music world. I like that she seems to be unapologetically herself and hasn’t conformed to what Hollywood thinks sells albums.

 

Colorful flowers. I love having them to brighten up our home, and Robert got me some really bright and fun ones from a summer collection a few weeks ago. I used to always say Gerbera Daisies were my favorite kind of flower, but now I like pretty much everything under the sun.

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Crime Junkie. I am a huge fan of podcasts, and Crime Junkie happens to be one of my favorites. Granted, it’s made me a little wary every time I go to the basement to do laundry, but overall the mild paranoia is worth listening to Ashley and Brit tell us about famous — and not so famous — cases. It’s a great thing to listen to during a commute or while doing household chores; just don’t listen late at night when you’re by yourself unless you want to be up all night listening for intruders.

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Finally, Taylor Swift released her song “Lover” last night and I am OBSESSED. She’s back to writing her beautiful love songs and I couldn’t be more here for it!

A Scary Halloween Eve

I was supposed to watch a scary movie tomorrow, but it looks like we’ll be doing something more along the lines of Halloweentown or Hocus Pocus. A Disney movie is kind of what I need right now. You see, I had the bright idea of watching a scary movie tonight, and settled on the first one we found on demand. BIG. MISTAKE.

It ended up grabbing me in just enough to care about whether or not the girls were okay at the end of the movie, but I hated every single minute of watching it. I went under the covers, would “go to the bathroom” basically every other scene, and used my hands as shields. It was the first time I realized Kanye glasses actually make some sort of sense.

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Photo Credit: CapitalFM.com

Anyway, I am sitting at the kitchen table, wide awake, trying to laugh the fright away. I started by making some tasty ravioli while listening to a funny podcast, but that wasn’t strong enough. So I brought in the cheeriest thing I could think of: a rootbeer float.

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Normally I watch a Hilary Duff movie after a scary flick, but I am just not feeling Material Girls or A Cinderella Story tonight. I think a nice caffeine-free dessert was just what I needed to calm the jitters a little… I now know that when I am scared, I get hungry and just want to eat. Somehow I think that’s not a normal human instinct that goes along with fear, but I’m okay with masking my fear with a little ice cream and soda.

Now I am off to binge on The Office or a nice, funny episode of Nathan for You. Happy Halloween everyone!

“I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow”

How many times have you heard someone utter the words, “I can’t wait until tomorrow,” “I can’t wait until Friday,” or “I hate Mondays?” I find myself saying this on days I feel sick, lonely, or even just bored.

Somehow the future is always more bright, beautiful, and easier than today. Nobody warned us that there would still be trials, loss, and unplanned twists and turns where you least expect them. That being said, why do we still always hope for tomorrow to come, even when we have so many blessings today? I think a big part of it has to do with boredom. It’s hard to sit still and have a mundane schedule and so much easier to “live for today” when today is exciting and great.

Getting sick with POTS really opened my eyes to the harder parts of life. One of the most difficult lessons I’ve learned is that the future isn’t promised, and some dreams may never come true. You know what else I learned from these lessons, though? That this is all okay! I learned that you have the opportunity to grow and learn from trials, and that you can always handle so much more than you realize. I learned that sometimes the hardest thing you have to go through can turn into the biggest blessing you’ve ever had, and that God’s plan for you is even better than what you have planned for yourself. Finally, I learned that sometimes all you can do is take life one day at a time, and focusing too much on the future can actually be harmful when you are dealing with a particularly difficult trial.

Instead, on the harder days I try my best to list my blessings. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve surely seen my “Five Blessings” posts. This was the most recent one:

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Instead of having the mindset that life is going to be better tomorrow, count the blessings you have today. Don’t get me wrong; it can be really hard sometimes, but if you can find even just one thing to be grateful for, life quickly feels a little bit easier. Sometimes you need to just take baby steps, even if it’s just counting your blessings — one day at a time.


Update: Still trying to change my domain to KristaLauren.com, but it’s taking forever because I need technical help and it hasn’t been the biggest priority on my list. Keep in mind this site will be changing, though!

A Date By Myself

pop. Pop. pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop beeeeeeeeeep!

The smell of butter filled the kitchen so beautifully that the air felt yellow with artificial flavor.

I walked over to the drawer next to the microwave and grabbed a bar of Trader Joe’s 73% dark chocolate, and held it between my teeth as I snatched the bag of steaming popcorn from the oven.

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Friday nights sometimes just call for a night in by yourself, watching The Office and pigging out on junk food. Tonight was going to be a little taste of heaven.

I sit on the couch in my baggy Army t-shirt and boyshorts and enjoy the silence of an empty house while I select an episode on Netflix. Ten minutes later I’m laughing at Michael Scott with popcorn spilled on my lap and a half-eaten chocolate bar. I reach for the can of Ready Whip I had obtained and squirt a dollop on my tongue.

This is a beauty of being single that is often overlooked. You can pamper yourself with some of your favorite treats and spend an evening alone. I am one of the most extroverted people I know in that I love being around people most of the time. Sometimes I forget to take a break and enjoy my own company, but when I do, I have a really nice evening. Since Robert has been gone and most of my friends are in relationships I do find myself with more free alone time, and I am really glad that I’ve been able to learn how to feel content staying in on a Friday night.

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Dogs also make wonderful company. Macy pouts when I eat popcorn because she loves it, but knows she isn’t allowed to beg. I always give her some in turn for tricks!

Today’s lesson: Cherish life at every stage, even while you’re single. One day you will probably be married and not have the chance to have the house to yourself very often!