Support Small Businesses (And Cultivate a Little Joy for Yourself)
Hi everyone! How are you doing right now? Have you been finding ways to take care of yourself and check in on others during this stressful time? Are you carving out time and space to relax and do things that bring you joy?
Like everyone, I’m having good days and bad days. Days where I can be productive and days where getting anything done is a challenge. But we are safe and so far healthy and that’s what is important right now.
I wanted to share with you a couple of things I have done in the past few weeks that bring me joy or help me cultivate a little bit of peace in the hopes that these ideas may help you as well. If you are looking for something to help you relax, if you need a new craft to distract yourself with, or if you need something uplifting for yourself, your friends, or your family, this post is for you.
I’m also highlighting the woman-owned small businesses that have helped me accomplish these things in partnership with Etsy’s Stand with Small Campaign. The businesses I’m sharing here are ones whose products I purchase and use regularly and all opinions are my own. This post does contains affiliate links, which means I will also get a small percentage of income if you choose to buy something after clicking my link.
Lots of small businesses, mine included, are struggling right now so I encourage you to check out these artists and support them as you can. Making a purchase is great if you have the means to do so, but you can also support small businesses by sharing our posts, liking our pages, and telling your friends about us.
Create a Spa Day at Home
If you need a spa day (and who couldn’t use one right now), look no further than Nat Botanicals. My friend Natacha’s soaps, lotions, and bath bombs make it easy to create your own relaxing retreat at home. With all the hand washing I’ve been doing, my very sensitive skin has gotten dried out so I bought myself a little care package form Nat Botanicals last week and it has helped a lot!
Natacha and I worked together in a previous life and while we no longer live in the same town, we do both have businesses that focus on sustainability and quality products. Natacha makes all of her products in small batches and they are palm oil free and vegan.
I cannot overstate how great her soaps, lotions, and bath bombs smell! She has a wonderful talent for combining scents and ingredients to make products that work great and smell amazing. Her products come beautifully packaged and she always includes a free sample as well. Last year I gave her soaps to all of the Moms in my life as a Mother’s Day present and if you are looking for the perfect gift for the Moms in your life I highly recommend sending them something from Nat Botanticals.
Here’s what I recently ordered and am currently loving:
I love soap with activated charcoal so I picked up a bar of her Charcoal, Tea Tree, and Lavender Soap. Activated charcoal is great for a deep clean but it can also leave your skin feeling a little dry. Natasha has created the perfect balance in this soap of deep cleaning but also moisturizing and the lavender sent is really soothing!
I also ordered the unscented version (see that sensitive skin I mentioned) of her Lotion Bar to put on my hands each night. It’s done wonders for smoothing out the rough skin left by all of that hand washing. A little bit of this goes a long way so it will last for awhile!
I’ve also ordered and used her bath bombs and they leave your skin feeling so smooth! My favorite is the Eucalyptus and Lavender Bath Bomb.
If you need to carve out a little time for yourself in this craziness I cannot recommend her products enough! She ships quickly and is always adding new products to her store. So please treat yourself or someone you love to her amazing products!
Try a New Craft
One of my favorite hobbies for relaxing is cross stitching. I can put on a favorite movie or podcast and lose myself in the rhythm of the stitching. Plus I get to watch as the design slowly appears under my hands. If you haven’t tried cross stitching before, now is a great time to do so or, if you do cross stitch, it is a great time to pick up a new pattern. There is nothing like a new project to get you energized and excited.
I personally love the designs created by Jody Rice of Satsuma Street. Many of you who cross stitch probably already know about Satsuma Street but if you don’t you are in for a treat! She makes fun modern designs. A big plus for me is that most of her designs have very minimal backstitching, which is probably my least favorite part of making a cross stitch! The style of her designs make them very beginner friendly if you are looking to try cross stitch for the first time. They are also so bright and cheerful that it’s hard not to smile when you are working on them.
I’ve made a number of her patterns, starting with her Pretty Little London Pattern (since I love visiting London and the UK), which is part of her collection of City Designs. This one is framed and hangs on the wall in my sewing studio/office.
I’ve also made her Christmas Ornaments as gifts for friends and was thrilled when she created a Modern Wedding Cross Stitch Design. It was the perfect design to make as a gift for my cousin and his new wife when they got married last fall.
If you are looking for some companionship as you sew she is currently hosting a Stitch-A-Long, where she releases a little bit of the pattern each week but you don’t know what the final image will look like. It’s a lot of fun and you can follow the social media hashtags to interact with everyone else who is stitching along with you. Her current Stitch-A-Long is Alice in Wonderland themed, which is not my cup of tea (Alice in Wonderland joke intended), but I’ve done her Stitch-A-Longs in the past and it is a great way to feel connected, especially when we are all separated right now.
Satsuma Street patterns are all digital PDFs so you get them immediately upon purchase, print them out, and can get started stitching right away. If you are new to cross stitch or don’t have the correct supplies I hope that you will consider looking for a small local cross stitch store from which to order your fabric and thread. You can get these items at big box hobby stores but your little local shops are relying on those orders right now. For example, I’m lucky enough to have a needlework store near where I live, Fancy Works, and they are super helpful there. They, like many other small stories, don’t have an online shop that is stocked, but you can call them and give them your floss numbers and fabric needs and they can put together an order for you.
I hope you’ll give cross stitch a try if you are looking for something fun and calming to do right now!
Send Some Happy Mail
One of the ways I’ve been staying connected with family and friends is to send them some snail mail. Nothing brightens my day more than going to the mail box and seeing I have a card from a loved one so I’m trying to send out a card or two a week to share that joy with others.
If you are looking to include a little something extra in those cards, let me recommend a Zine or art piece from Elena’s Tree House.
I haven’t actually met Elena in person because she lives in the UK and I live in the US, but I’ve been following her and her work for six years now. I first stumbled over her beautiful cut paper images when we both did the First 100 Day Project hosted by Elle Luna and I’ve loved her work ever since!
Elena has a wonderful knack for capturing the beauty in the everyday and the strength of women and mothers in her art. I think something about her images feels quilty to me, perhaps because the way she uses the existing textures and colors of scraps of paper to create her images feels like what quilters do with fabric. Elena is also an amazing story teller, which appeals to the folklorist in me.
I have a number of Elena’s zines, tiny art magazines that fit into the palm of your hand and that tell empowering stories. These are the perfect gift for anyone who is struggling with all of the new challenges and weirdness that is coming from our global crisis. Her Little Book of Feeling Shitty and her zine called Too Much help articulate what many of us are feeling and end with a message of love and hope. They are the perfect social distanced hug that fits into a card or a letter. She even has a Buddy Deal for the Little Book of Feeling Shitty to get one for yourself and for a friend.
Elena ships quickly to the US. I just placed an order and received it, so I can attest that international mail is still working. If you order multiples of her zines the shipping cost stays the same as ordering one, so you can get enough to tuck into all of the cards or letters that you are sending.
I also have a few different pieces of Elena’s art such as the original above. She has some originals for sale as well as a number of beautiful prints. I love this one of a woman painting the cosmos and this one which was inspired by women’s day. These would also make great gifts for Mother’s Day.
I hope that these ideas help you find some small ways to relax, connect with others, and keep your sanity in these uncertain times. Take care of yourselves, stay home unless you are an essential worker (and if you are an essential worker thank you, thank you, thank you), and stay safe!