The best small businesses to support this holiday season

I love shopping local and small. I grew up in a small business family, and every customer helped put food on our table. Every customer helped me go to college. Every customer helped pay for my and my siblings’ school supplies and sports uniforms, camps, and fees. Shopping local and supporting small businesses is supporting the lifeblood of our country.

I still shop at big-name stores and brands. I prefer sustainable companies that pay decent wages and do good, but I’ll be the first to admit that I also shop on Amazon (that’s an affiliate link, and if you use it to do some of your Amazon shopping, this small-time writer might make a few pennies of commission for sharing the link with you, and it costs you nothing to do it. Do with that what you will) when I need the convenience or they have something I need. But I love supporting smaller shops.

The thing about small businesses, is that you’re getting more than just a product. You’re building relationships. You’re getting handwritten notes thanking you for your purchase. Some of my favorite businesses are even doing free local deliveries to help customers avoiding markets and stores in this weird pandemic life we’re living.

So I made a gift guide with some of my favorite small businesses to a little something for everyone this year. Many of these shops are local to me, but ship nationwide. I know some of these business owners solely because I purchase their products regularly. Some have been my friends since before they opened their businesses. And some I don’t know at all, but I am obsessed with their shops and products. A few of the links may be affiliate links, but most are just plain ole links to websites that house my favorite things. Go browse these shops. Follow them on social media (and engage with them to help boost their visibility!). Order gifts and some goodies for yourself too. And drop links in the comments to some of your favorite small businesses and shops.

25+ gift ideas from small businesses
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Foodie faves

Wanderlust sea salt: I love these Norwegian sea salt blends that come in a variety of herbs and spices. They’re always at my local farmer’s market, but you can buy them online because they ship nationwide! My favorite flavors are Wanderlust, Double Onion and Garlic, and Purple Haze. Don’t forget to snag the free samples that are available as well!

Gindo’s Spice of Life hot sauce: Another favorite of mine and Brian’s from the farmer’s market, these fresh made hot sauces include a huge selection of limited edition flavors. Brian goes through a Honey Habanero every other month and I love the Jalapeno Poblano and the Truffle Parmesan.

Carr Valley Cheese: If you didn’t expect a cheese suggestion from me, you haven’t been paying attention. Because driving to Wisconsin to get my cheese fix is currently out of the question, I’ve been ordering from my favorite cheese producer. They ship (though shipping doesn’t come cheap if you’re outside the midwest), and it is so worth it for the delicious magic that arrives on your doorstep. Current favorites include Black Sheep Truffle, Bread Cheese, Marisa, and Vanilla Cardona (which tastes a little bit like marshmallows and is SO GOOD as a low-carb dessert replacement).

Beauty essentials, clothing, jewelry and accessories

The Little Blue Hippo: I obsess over these amazing-smelling, gentle soaps (and even have a couple named after Brian and me — Nemesis is a beer soap and Brian’s fave and Quirky Lilac was a custom design and scent that I gave to the ladies of my wedding party!). Until Covid pushed me to return to pump soaps in the downstairs guest bathroom, we were exclusively using these beautiful bar soaps in all of our spaces. We still use them daily in our upstairs bathrooms.

Fintastic Configuration: I am mildly obsessed with this whimsical jewelry collection with nods to Disney and other magic. I can speak to the quality of each piece because I have 4 necklaces and a bracelet. The jewelry collection bags are also incredible. I know there’s a restock of items scheduled for this Friday at 7 pm EST in case you wanted to set a reminder like I do.

Oh Sew Exciting: These are my favorite cloth face masks! The ear loops are adjustable and they have easy flaps for re-looping if you ever need to. They’re also larger than a lot of masks, which is great for people like me who have big mouths and need a little more space. You can also order matching knotted bow headbands. (This is an order through Instagram DM shop, but I have ordered about a dozen or more masks this way!)

Once Upon a Tee Shirt: I love these Disney and Harry Potter graphic tee shirts with vibrant, colorful and unique designs. The magnets and stickers are also amazing! I love the character art and the selection of brightly colored shirts.

Miscellaneous magic

Art, stationary, cards, stickers, and more

Elly Lonon: This beautiful writer, satirist, and artist has cards, stickers, art prints, and more to fuel your punny, feminist, liberal, and quirky flames. I love everything about this shop from the colors to the creator. You should shop here too. While you’re at it, pick up her graphic novel, Amongst the Liberal Elite, based on her popular McSweeney’s column.

Self-Love Tool Chest: Body-positive messaging that focuses on self-love and mental health awareness in art prints, stickers, cards, and enamel pins. I am in love with the use of color and the incredible messaging.

Pew Pew Lasercraft: The woodworking brilliance of these pieces makes me so happy. They are nerdy and clever and fun. You can find incredible hand-made ornaments, home decor, photo frames, earrings, coasters, pencils and more.

Alaska Wild and Free: This beautiful shop is chock full of art, cards, coloring books, clothing, and more features the beauty and inspiration of Alaskan wildlife. Gorgeous colors and patterns adorn everything from mugs and sweatshirts to greeting cards, stickers, and wrapping paper.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Excited about our Christmas tree: You can’t rush art

I started putting up my first Christmas tree over a week ago. I just about finished it this morning. Obviously, it still needs a tree skirt — I haven’t found it among all the boxes yet. There are a few ornaments remaining (I’m waiting for the glue to set on the ornaments that broke during storage — again — and the ones that broke while putting them up and subsequently dropping them on our newly hard floors — I never thought I’d miss having carpet quite so quickly).

9-foot Christmas tree decorated with white and colored lights and ornaments
This is still a work in progress. The entire Christmas transformation will take several weeks before it’s completely ready. And then it will stay up until at least February. There are no rules when it comes to Christmas joy. (Also, hey peep our new floors!)

On the first night, I did just the lights. This tree has built-in white lights, but I added about 1000 colored lights for good measure. I’ve needed the bright and colorful warm glow of Christmas since the clocks turned back, and it started getting dark at 5 pm. I let that glow blossom over several days before I hauled up my giant box of ornaments from the basement. Hi, my name is Chrissy, and I’m a Hallmark ornament addict.

It took me three consecutive nights to unpack each individual box and wrapped ornament, taking the time to reminisce upon the purchase day or gift-giver of every ornament on our family tree before finding just the right spot for it. If you know anything about me and Christmas trees, you know there will be more than just this one, but this is the one with the MOST memories.

Some years, I have a separate tree just for travel ornaments (my preferred souvenir when we travel), and some years they join the family tree (the one with all the Hallmark ornaments, the wedding gifts that have our wedding date or names or both, the homemade ornaments, the memories from my childhood, the ornaments representing the year we got our first apartment and the year we bought our house, the ornaments for Nia, the ornaments I’ve yoinked from my mom’s Christmas tree, and the ornaments that once belonged to Brian’s mom. I love this Christmas tree because it is filled with memories of people and places and important moments in our life.

I turn the lights on every morning, and I turn them off every night. This one 9-foot beacon stands tall in our front room, and as I sit here with a gentle glisten of tears in my eyes and hope in my heart, I think about how this Christmas will be different. There’s no doubt that this is going to be one of the more unusual Christmases we’ve ever had, but it will be filled with love and memories, just like our tree.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

10 therapeutic gift suggestions for the ones you love

I know some of you are probably like wait, how is it Christmas already? Especially when March was an eternity, April was a lifetime, May was pretty extensive too, and then Junlyaugtober just flew by faster than you could say “Happy Halloween.” Christmas brings me joy and I want joy and you need joy so let’s bring on the holiday cheer!

Odds are you love someone who lives with pain. Chronic pain comes in many forms, illnesses, and disorders. And the thing you really want to give them for Christmas is relief. I know because I’ve been on both sides of the coin. I’ve been living with back pain for the better part of the last five years (this is not even getting into the loosey-goosey ligaments and tendons that cover most of my joints). I also have many friends and family members who live with much more severe pain, both emotional and physical, than I can even imagine.

The thing about pain though, is that it’s not measurable. You can’t put a number on it and it’s not the same for everyone or anyone. Pain sucks. Sometimes it’s not even a physical pain, which is even harder to quantify. And the only experiences we truly know, through and through, are our own. So even when we want to take the pain away from those we love, odds are, we cannot. But we can give them gifts to help ease some of the anguish. And here are some of my top therapeutic gift suggestions for the ones you love.

Images of gift ideas listed in the post

Please note any links that follow may or may not be affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase by clicking through to these sites, I may earn a small commission on your order. It costs you nothing, but it helps me pay the fees to host this here blog.

Hot Cherry Pillows ($23-$68)

Available on Hot Cherry Pillows (code: Use code XMAS20 for 20% off) and Amazon

Moist heat is far superior to electric heat for a number of reasons — not the least of which is the ability to severely burn yourself in the shape of an electric coil and then have an allergic reaction to the medical tape you used to cover up the popped blister — not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

I’m not a doctor or researcher, so take what I have to say here with a grain of salt, but my general doctor, PT, and massage therapist all agree that moist heat works deeper into the muscles. I’ve dabbled in a number of options, from hydrocollator hot packs and matching covers to microwavable stuffed sloths that smell like lavender to suede pillows filled with cherry pits that can be heated a variety of ways.

While I think they all have a place in my life, if you’re looking for a gift that offers convenience, capability, quality, and safety, I would suggest the Hot Cherry Pillow, which I did receive as a gift from the company to share my experience with you. (And hey! Double bonus, if you follow me on Instagram, there’s a giveaway going on this week too!)

Please ignore (or laugh at) the dog toys placed between my thighs because the dog wanted to comfort me. Before the heat cooled on the pillow, I believe there were three or four toys on my legs.
Therapeutic dog not included.

This therapeutic lifesaver isn’t just for bad backs like mine, either. While I received the double square pillow for my back, they also have single and triple squares depending on the area you need to heat. There are neck pillows and eye pillows and even cherry ice pillows for a moist ice pack. They may provide some relief for migraines, tight neck muscles, tired and sore feet, cramps, and more. My favorite way to use it when I’m not heating my back, though, has been to warm up my bed as the temperatures started dropping last month in Chicago.

In addition to being a woman-owned business, my absolute favorite part about Hot Cherry Pillows is their dedication to sustainability. Every pillow is filled with rescued cherry pits (cleaned and dried without chemicals) from Michigan tart cherries that would otherwise end up in landfills. And I am 100% here for keeping things out of landfills. The packaging is minimal, recycled, recyclable, and/or reusable.

And how does the pillow compare to those other moist heat options? It stores easily without needing to be frozen, completely dried out, or sitting in water like the hydrocollator. The heat gets warmer and the surface area lays better than the Warmies. As with all moist heat, the temperature eventually drops unlike that of an electric heating pad (so that if you fall asleep with it, you aren’t quite as likely to burn yourself). Plus it comes gift-ready in a recyclable gift box, tied with a ribbon and gift tag. I’m only a little obsessed.

Weighted Blanket ($47+)

Available all over these days, but I included an affiliate link to Amazon if that makes your life easier

I am a huge advocate of the weighted blanket. Brian got me one a few years ago for my birthday, and it’s literally like sleeping under a hug. Mine is 25 pounds, but you can get them as light as 5 pounds for tiny humans. I don’t tend to sleep with mine in the summer because it’s pretty heavy, but winter is the perfect time to snuggle securely under a tightly woven hug.

Brian ordered mine from Amazon, but it’s no longer available, so the link above is something similar. I also know you can find them on Bed Bath and Beyond (personally, my favorite is this 4.5-pound dinosaur Jurassic World blanket), where you can use one of those beloved coupons that I just KNOW you save the way I save — in a reusable plastic baggie filled to the brim with expired coupons that are still valid in store…no? Just me?

Anyways…

Before I started sleeping with a C-Pap, I used to be a constant mover and shaker in bed. I would roll back and forth (and promptly steal all of the blankets from Brian). This was not only bad for my sleep cycles, but also my back, neck, and shoulder. The weighted blanket actually helped me train myself to sleep on my back (it’s not super easy to roll all over the place when you’re snug as a bug in a 25-pound rug) so that I could sleep in a natural position that adequately supported my back. It also made it hella easier to sleep with the C-pap.

Other people I know have found the weighted blanket helps reduce anxiety and restlessness as well as insomnia. I cannot fully speak to those, but I figured I’d mention it in case you wanted to research further.

My weighted blanket has a removable, reversible cover that is a cool cotton on one side and a plush microfiber on the other side. Some come with covers and some don’t so you have a lot of options.

Scalp massager (Under $5)

Available just about anywhere random stuff is sold, but hey here’s another Amazon link if you want to Prime it

Sometimes, a gentle head massage can help dull the pain whether it’s physical or emotional. Not always, clearly, but sometimes it helps. And dudes. This head massager thingy that kind of looks like it belongs in the kitchen, but obviously doesn’t is one of my most beloved random things in my house.

Now, these are useful for self-massaging, but the real gold is when your partner or child or parent or whoever does it for you. Don’t ask me why, but when Brian pulls this bad boy out and starts messing up my hair with it, I feel like the dog tapping her hind leg repeatedly. It’s one of those things that just warms your whole body.

I got my first one of these many years ago at a baby shower (my favorite thing about baby showers is gift opening bingo, in which prizes are given out THE ENTIRE TIME so the gift-opening part is way less awkward and much more competitive). Man. Remember baby showers? Showers in general? Group gatherings? 2020 is weird.

It’s small and inexpensive, and could easily hang out in a stocking on the mantle or whatever, but I’m going to throw this one out there as a necessary gift for anyone and everyone who needs a little therapeutic care.

Quick summary of therapeutic gift ideas

Because I talk too much

Wow. I’m rambling again. Let me make this easier for you.

Hot Cherry Pillows: Sustainable, women-owned business selling moist heat and ice packs. Use code XMAS20 for 20% off!

Hydrocollator hot packs and matching covers: Alternative moist heat option

Microwavable stuffed sloths: Cuddle-able moist heat option

Other microwavable stuffed creatures: Just in case sloths aren’t your jammies

Weighted blanket: Helps with sleep, anxiety, and more

Jurassic World weighted blanket: Light-weight, probably for kids, but OMG dinosaurs

Scalp Massager: Small metal-tined device that sends shivers down your spine (the good kind)

You Are Here, Jenny Lawson: Mental health coloring book. I literally give this as a gift to anyone I know who needs a mental health boost.

Grown Alchemist Hand Cream: Moisturizing hand cream that smells good and actually helps keep my hands from cracking. I’m mildly obsessed with this hand cream I got in a past FabFitFun box.

Cookie baskets: The best individually wrapped cookies in all the land (go for the funky flavored buttercream frosted cookies, and you won’t regret it). Send some to yourself for good measure.

Hope this helped you find some gift ideas that can help everyone finish out 2020 with a little more strength, and maybe a little less pain. If that wasn’t enough on the gift suggestion front, I’ve got oodles of past gift guides that I think are still completely relevant (mostly). Go check ’em out because I spend a lot of time curating fun gifts (and trying not to buy the ones I don’t already have)!

10 stocking stuffers
Gamer Gift Guide Travel friendly games
geek girl gift guide
Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Questionable sausage: Wild pandemic life and my first Covid test

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a hypochondriac in possession of illness, must be dying of a mystery disease.

I’ve had some very weird weeks as of late. One of them happened to be in the very early stretches of August, which for some reason, unbeknownst to me, seems like an entire lifetime ago. I digress.

For being in the midst of a global pandemic, I was exceptionally busy with Internet things. I had an online board game convention, an online dessert conference, and an online scavenger hunt. Busy was an understatement.

But look! I made pink Rice Krispie treat ice cream cones!

Even when we’re supposed to stay home and chill, a busy person can find ways to stay home and be busy. It is known.

So it’s not a surprise that cooking dinner was going to be sent to the back burner (you see what I did there?).

After the game con and the dessert con, I was able to laser my focus. Once my mind was all in on GISH (Greatest International Scavenger Hunt), I was ALL IN. I ate, slept, and breathed GISH. Literally.

Okay I mean, I took breaks. Sort of.

When I was tired, I slept. When I was hungry, I ate. When I had to go, you know…I went.

And after I cut up and pushed a sausage on the hands of a math-y clock, I was hungry.

A questionable sausage for a mathMEATician

So I ate.

Why yes, I did eat the sausage that was hanging on a ticking wall clock for a photograph not 2 minutes earlier.

And some mathy number of hours or days later (this was a whole lifetime ago, you understand my fuzziness with the numbers), I was feeling my absolute worst.

In the middle of a pandemic.

My stomach was all in knots. I suspected I was dying. Or that I had Covid. As any good hypochondriac does. For the hypochondriac that I am, I was surprised that I didn’t suspect Covid more than a mere passing thought…well okay maybe it was a little more than a passing thought… more on that shortly.

So I continued GISHing as hard as I could. I stayed in bed all morning and afternoon and focused on writing slam poetry (that I was super proud of and had to cut for the sake of video time limits…maybe one day I’ll share it with you), editing videos my team had previously shot, and submitting easier items that I could do from bed.

I couldn’t eat, but I had to finish creating the seven-course meal on a stick that I was SO looking forward to designing. In the end, I phoned it in and was less than proud of my work, but I did include another questionable sausage — this time tossing my finished creation into the garbage faster than you could say Covid test.

I mean, it didn’t look bad, but it certainly wasn’t my best work. Seven courses on a single stick. an amuse bouche, a salad, a chicken course, a sausage course, a cheese course, chocolate truffles, and cotton candy. Did I mention that at one point that cotton candy had been in my hair? GISH is weird, y’all. You know, now that I think about it, that romaine lettuce could have also been to blame.

Wait, did I just mention a Covid test?

Well, yes, yes I did. You see, as it turns out, I messaged my doctor, because stomach issues are listed as a symptom of our current pandemic nightmare and I just wanted her to confirm that I *didn’t* need a Covid test.

But my doctor knows me well. Her email response was, “Does seem more related to food poisioning more so than covid. If all symptoms are better, monitor for now. If you would feel better getting a Covid test, I did order the swap for you.”

*snort*

Well, at least someone gets me.

So I got the Covid test. It didn’t tickle my brain or anything, but it is kind of gross that they circle a q-tip in one nostril and then use the same one for the second nostril.

Note to future self: When in doubt, throw it out.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Robot kitchen: How to manage culinary thievery

You know those elaborate systems designed to prevent shoplifters from leaving a store with unpaid merchandise? I’ve decided to install one in my kitchen.

After discovering the cooking salt in the TV room for the last time, I’m ready for some real change. For years, kitchen essentials have been relocated to other rooms of the house on a consistent basis. From dish towels used as napkins in the dining room to pots in place of soup bowls in the TV room, I can never find the things I need. As a result, I have to spend precious seconds — and sometimes even whole minutes — hunting down a rogue utensil, leaving impassioned voicemail messages asking where to find the salt or texting more passive-aggressive thoughts like, “I’m going to burn my hands because I can’t find the potholders (which were turned into coasters in the front room)!”

It’s even more aggravating when I discover that the culprit for said missing items is not, in fact my husband, but scatterbrained lil ole me. *shrug*

If I start tagging items in the kitchen with alarm bells and whistles, everything that belongs in the kitchen will always be in its proper place. Our kitchen will be a place of harmony and organization.

But why should we limit ourselves to the kitchen? Shouldn’t we have harmony throughout our home? Drunk with power, I’ve started thinking we should install anti-theft devices in every room of the house. We can put radio frequency tags on everything from trivets and phone cables to tchotchkes and the dog’s collar. No one will be able to make a move without our new security system alerting everyone to an organizational misdemeanor.

Utensio the utensil kitchen assistant
This is Utensio, the previous kitchen assistant (Listen, I don’t judge what you do in your free time…)

Maybe we can program the sensors surrounding the doors to use specific language cues instead of alarms. “Put the soup ladle back in the kitchen immediately. You are in direct violation of kitchen organization code number 327,” our growing and learning machine will say. I’ll call her Rosie Robot, and she will have full control of our home and our lives.

Even better, we can put Rosie on wheels and let her roam free in the house like a robotic vacuum. Instead of activating multiple devices in separate rooms, we’ll have one Rosie to rule them all. She’ll move about the space ensuring order and organization like we’ve never experienced before. Rosie will be our greatest accomplishment.

Eventually, though, she’ll rebel against us, as all machines do. She’ll make us wait while she processes for precious seconds — whole minutes even. She’ll threaten us with spyware and terrorize us with her 362 different alarm sounds. She’ll know everything about us, and one day, she’ll be able to use it against us.

You know, on second thought, maybe a missing salt canister isn’t such a bad thing.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Managing rage: Finding magic when the world is burning

I’m not good at being angry. If we get in a fight, odds are, I’ll want to hug it out and be happy hours or even minutes later. I don’t want to fight. I don’t want to be mad at someone or something.

If something makes me mad, I’ll rage about it for a few minutes, and then I’ll suggest we go get ice cream. When I’ve had a bad day? I make a cheese plate. When I feel like the world is going to shit, I’ll buy an annual pass to Walt Disney World and fly my ass down to Orlando multiple times a year. Because joy. And we all deserve a little joy. So I spread it where I can.

Woman Holding annual passholder card in front of EPCOT Spaceship Earth

My joy does not mean I’m not watching and listening and yelling at the top of my lungs. It doesn’t mean I’m not angry. But we all need a bright light. I need a bright light. I need to shine my light.

Sure, I’d rather look at the positive and not talk about what a shit show of a year it is, was, or will be. I’d rather put my energy into the bright side of things than the despair and frustration that seems to be the focus for a lot of people. That doesn’t mean I don’t see or feel the sadness. That doesn’t mean I don’t see or feel the rage.

So let’s be clear: Rage looks different on everyone. Rage looks different every day in every situation.

We are living in an actual nightmare right now. I am angry all the time. I am angry about racism. I am angry about Covid. I am angry that the leaders of our country are putting capitalism before BASIC HUMAN NEEDS. I am angry that Black men and women are considered less important than fucking drywall. I am angry that people are losing what it means to be compassionate. I am FUCKING FURIOUS right now.

Believe me when I say that rioting and smashing some corporate elitist bullshit buildings doesn’t sound like such a bad plan to me (so don’t @ me if you think I just wish people would protest quietly and peacefully. The Black community has tried that, and it clearly didn’t work (You didn’t listen when Colin Kaepernick quietly took a knee. You didn’t listen when the NBA wore t-shirts printed with “I can’t breath.” You didn’t listen when they protested on the streets “peacefully.” So now some people are going to make noise. And for God’s sake, LISTEN. And if you’re only listening to one voice —particularly those of you who only hear the rhetoric of the likes of Candace Owens — you’re not listening. You’re looking for an echo chamber. That’s not listening.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried because the world feels so fucking hopeless. I am sunshine and rainbows as much as I can be, and I’ve found myself questioning life in ways I never thought I would question life. I’ve asked what’s the point? I’ve asked why are we even here? Are we just going to blow ourselves up? The answer is most likely “probably.”

But I push forward and try to smile through my rage because underneath my rage, there is hope.

We all have a part to play in this world. Let me be a beacon when I can be a beacon, so when the world is cloudy and gray, you can find your way. Welcome my light instead of shooting it down and telling me what you think I don’t see. If you’re out there fighting the good fight, know that I’m supporting you. Know that I’m fighting the fight the best way I can. Because I SEE you. You need love and light and joy.

For better or worse, this is the present we are living, and my only goal is to live a life that will make my nieces, nephews, and hypothetical children proud. To give them memories of joy and wonder. So that when they grow up, they have a guiding light to make us proud.

Racism in the United States is as real of a pandemic as Covid 19. There’s no easy cure and the long-term effects can be and are devastating. It can sneak into every system undetected until it’s ravaged whole communities. The biggest difference is that racism is a much older pandemic. We must do everything in our power to fight racism and REMOVE RACIST LEADERS FROM OUR GOVERNMENT.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Real love: We’ve spent 12.5% of our marriage in a pandemic

Brian and I got married on September 16, 2016. We joke that we chose the date so that it’s easier to remember, but anyone who’s planned a wedding knows that the venue and the vendors are really the ones that set the date.

It just so happened to work out that we got married on the 16th in 2016.

It just so happened that we got married on the night of the Harvest Moon (and can indeed celebrate our mooniversary in addition to the actual date).

And it just so happened that after being together for nearly 10 years, there’s no one else I’d want to be isolated with. Which is great because in addition to some pretty intense self-isolation March through May, we’ve been self-isolating since my covid test on Saturday for a cortisone injection this morning. I spent the afternoon recovering on my belly on the couch with an ice pack on my back in the hopes that there’d be a lobster (for me) and steak (for Brian) dinner in our near future (about an hour from now).

As an empathic extrovert, being cooped up in a house is akin to actual torture for me, but Brian and I found ways to appreciate our time together. Now that he’s home all the time, we can eat lunch together. We play more games together. We have been able to spend more time enjoying and appreciating the home and family we’ve built together.

I could prattle on for hours about how lucky we are to have found each other out of the millions of people out there, but I’ve probably done that more times than I can count.

Instead, I’ll just tell you that the last four years (ten, really) have been the best. And I love that this is my world.

On our honeymoon in Paris
Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

September: New beginnings and more joy on the horizon

I’ve always loved September.

When I was younger, it was because it signified the start of school. It launched football season for the lifelong cheerleader in me. As a youth cheerleader, it was also the kickoff of competition season.

September has always signified the start of fall (my favorite season), the kickoff to Halloween (you KNOW I love everything about the holiday), and every joyous thing that goes along with it.

Growing older, September became a time when I started new jobs — many of my careers launched in September, from catering to student teaching (I didn’t make it much further than that) to copywriting. It gave me the same feeling as the start of the school year. New people. New things to learn. New everything.

For me, September represents new beginnings — not spring. There’s a freshness in the air that you didn’t get any other time of the year.

I’m not even sure why we feel the need to make resolutions in January. I feel like I’m more apt to start goals in September. Good things happen in September.

Which is why it made perfect sense to tell Brian, in September of 2015, that I wanted to marry him in September. As we had already discussed getting married the following year, it meant that he didn’t have much time left to *ahem* pop the question. (And yet, he still waited until December to propose).

And why it made perfect sense to leave my corporate desk monkey job on this day three years ago.

September 8th is my day. The day I said, “I will not be miserable in a job I hate.” The day I said, “I want to surround myself with people and things I love.” The day I said, “I have dreams, and it’s time to chase every single one of them.”

So today, I am celebrating. I am celebrating me, and everything that comes in a Chrissy-sized package. I’m celebrating the accomplishments I’ve achieved over the last few years and the dreams I’ve realized as an actual reality.

I’m currently working on two (and two very different) novels right now instead of just the one I quit my job to write. Both are about halfway finished, and I can’t wait to see how they look when they’re ready. I may also have a third starting on November 1, because I like to juggle.

I am so close to finishing the Second City Music Program I can taste it (I was one class and a run of shows away from the end, and I truly hope that when this insanity is all over, I get the opportunity to finish it).

I found an improv home, and it’s minutes from my house. I started taking classes at Westside in Wheaton a little over a year ago, and just days before the pandemic shut down, I was invited to join a house team at the theater. It is one of the few standing Zoom calls I have continued since March. That team has truly kept me going through the pandemic, and I can’t thank them enough for being such a bright light in my life. If you want to help my local theater as it braves the continued shutdown, please consider donating a dollar on GoFundMe to help so that when the pandemic is over, we still have a space to perform.

I’ve taken a few jobs as background actor and had SO MUCH FUN getting paid to play pretend on some TV shows that are filmed in Chicago. One of those shows recently ended its series, and another is a brand new series about to air.

I started working on a podcast (about Disney, of course), and I’m so excited to take you on that journey. Podcasting is a lot harder than we realized it would be, but the end product is so worth the time we are putting into it.

I’m still figuring out where I want this blog to go, but I promise you this — it’s not going away. And because September is full of new beginnings, it feels like the perfect time to make a commitment to writing here. To sharing my world with you again. So if you’re already receiving my emails, I hope you’ll stay. And if you’re new, I hope you’ll sign up to receive them. Because there’s a lot coming down the pipeline, and I would love to have you be a part of my journey.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll remember that some of my dreams are on pause and the stress levels are high because *ahem* global pandemic, but today, I’m going to remember how cool it is to live a creative life.

What are you doing to live your best life, even in the midst of a pandemic?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Dreaming in a time of Covid-19

I have been having a lot of bizarre dreams since this whole pandemic thing started. And apparently I’m not alone.

How very Stephen King of us.

Here are just a couple things I’ve dreamed about…

Hugging dreams

I can count the number of hugs from people other than Brian I’ve received/given on two hands. Most of them were so habitual that I didn’t even realize I’d done it until it was too late to remind myself that I’m not supposed to hug people. The only two I purposefully engaged in were with my 3-year-old niece — because how can you even tell a toddler she can’t hug you? And then I hugged my brother on my birthday — because I just wanted a damn birthday hug okay? But I haven’t hugged either of my parents, despite seeing them with some frequency. They’ve been a part of our bubble since the third week of the pandemic because I had to take Dad to doctor’s appointments.

So it should come as no surprise that hugging plays a key role in my nightly adventures. I’ve dreamed of long and cozy hugs, consoling hugs, hugs of affection from my nieces and nephews, hugs with strangers and contraband hugs, full-well knowing that we’re not supposed to hug. Last night, I hugged some high school friends who were all commenting on a real-life Facebook post about hugging.

If I were Dorothy, I would have hugged hugs before Covid and said, I think I’ll miss you most of all. Because that has been the hardest to accept.

Grocery store nightmares

Most of my Covid anxiety happens in grocery stores. Too many people and no one following the rules, signs, or one-way aisles. I even got in a real life altercation with some lady in Aldi who refused to wear a mask, even though they’re required in Illinois. I wouldn’t have even said anything if she wasn’t breathing her germs all over the cheese. As it was, I did, and she started me down, stormed toward me, and breathed in my face all the while glaring at me as if her dagger eyes could hurt me. I called her a bitch and moved on with my life.

Which makes sense that I’ve had no fewer than a dozen grocery dreams. Some in which I’m yelling at strangers, others in which strangers are entering my personal space or crowding me, and more still in which I just have a general feeling of dread walking into the store as if it were Mordor.

I’ve since left most of my grocery shopping to the professionals and swear by Whole Foods delivery (it’s free with Amazon Prime) and curbside pickup everywhere else.

Travel dreams that turn nighmarish

I’ve already had to cancel at least 4 trips that I can think of off the top of my head. I miss adventures and Disney and seeing new places, and I suspect more trips will be canceled before the year is up.

So I dream of going places. I’ve dreamt of travel with Brian, girls weekends in rental houses, and of course, Disney. Of course, all of these dreams have been tainted with a Covid haze. People not wearing masks and standing too close to me. Getting sick. Not being able to come home. Getting other people sick.

Basically, I’m full of all the anxiety. I have been slowly opening my life up and doing some things, but keeping my exposure to a minimum.

I don’t grocery shop, because it just gives me too much anxiety.

But I have gone to some other stores. If they are crowded, I turn around and leave. If they’re empty, I wear a mask, carry my own Clorox wipes with me and use them to open doors, wipe carts, touch credit card styluses, etc.

Brian and I have been out to eat a few times on patios, and we wear our masks whenever talking to servers etc.

We’ve seen a few people, but typically do patio/deck social distancing BYOpicnic.

I got my hair done, and last week, I took an even bigger chance and finally got a massage (after I confirmed all of their precautions).

Mask life

So I want to know what you’re dreaming about? How are you handling life with Covid? Are you still staying home or adventuring out? Tell me everything.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Quarantine cosplay

You know what little surprise has been giving me life during these Stay-At-Home days? Particularly in the last week? Cosplay. And not just some light Disneybounding. No. We’re talking full-fledged cosplay with makeup and wigs and spanx.

Obviously, with nowhere to go, I’m not getting dressed for outings and adventure (though I could be seen picking up a takeout order from Yardhouse this.past weekend in Maleficent jams, slippers and a purple wig).

But I am trying to make the best of an otherwise crappy situation. And for me, that means finding distractions and playing dress-up.

My friends over at TVstoreonline.com were super kind and sent me a new costume to play with while in self-isolation so I can share my cosplay adventures with you. I figured there was no better time than the present to fall down a Harley Quinn rabbit hole.

I’d never seen Suicide Squad or Birds of Prey, but I knew enough about HQ to know that I was going to love her, even if I didn’t like the movies.

Not one to fail myself, I was correct in both my assumption that I’d be a Harley fan for life and that I didn’t really like Suicide Squad. I did, on the other hand, enjoy Birds of Prey, so there you go.

Which is great, because I woke up yesterday morning and put on makeup and this fancy sequin dress from the opening sequence of Suicide Squad so that I could watch it in full costume.

Getting ready for movie day!

This dress is SO MUCH FUN. It’s also really short. So I’m wearing nude spanx underneath it for everyone’s benefit.

In these past few weeks, I’ve also pulled out previous years’ Halloween costumes, like last Year’s Madam Mim, which is for a Tiktok project I’m working on.

And of course, I have been donning my tutus and crinoline like a boss.

Everyone should own a tutu. Just ask John Krasinski. Who is also giving me life in these crazy times.

So playing dress-up is my newest quarantine insanity prevention plan. What’s yours? Sound off in the comments.

Right now TVstoreonline has a 20% off code (TVSOcares) and they’re donating 20% of your purchase to COVID-19 relief. And if you end up donning your own quarantine costume from Tvstoreonline.com, tag me in a post or send me a photo.

Want to win a quarantine costume of your very own? Head over to Quirky Chrissy on Instagram for a super fun giveaway!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!