Why Supporting Small Businesses Is Extra Important Right Now & How You Can Help

Hi, loves! I’m so excited to share today’s post with you all because whilst we’re all having a really hard time right now, this pandemic is really hitting small businesses hard. I’m so passionate about supporting the small businesses I love and I really want to share what I’ve been doing recently to help and show support, even in the smallest of ways. I love so many small businesses and I’ve always admired people who can create something from nothing. From your local salon, to online boutiques to florists and everything in between, all of these businesses need your help and support more than ever right now.

Coast Candle from Our Lovely Goods, a fantastic small business; this is is one of my favourite ever candles and I’m so happy to support them!

Shop local
There’s a reason the #shoplocal has over thirty MILLION tags on Instagram… it’s super important to people! I love to browse local shops whenever I can; they often supply goods you’d never find anywhere else, support local artists and have a little bit of that ‘home’ feeling in them. I think local stores also make wonderful gifts, especially if you have family or friends who love where you live but maybe live a little further out. Have a look on social media and maybe a little google search to see if you can support any of your favourite local stores online, or maybe just get some ideas of where you’d like to visit when this is all over and we’re able to explore again.

Talk about small businesses you love!
If you love a company and their products, now is the time to shout it from the rooftops. I love to share small businesses I find, especially on Instagram stories, and I’m so happy to promote products that make me happy. Ask your family members and friends which small businesses they support and branch out to new businesses too! Word of mouth is how a lot of these businesses began and it’s something they’ll always appreciate. 

Buy goods online if services are still running
If there’s one good thing about a pandemic… it’s online shopping has never been more fun. Right?! I honestly haven’t purchased very much since lockdown began, but I have ‘window’ shopped online A LOT; I love adding things to my cart and then making a mental note of things I’d like to buy next time I need another *insert product here*. Websites always appreciate an increase in traffic as it really helps out with SEO – this even works for my little blog too. I love seeing little notifications from WordPress that my stats are ‘booming’ when you guys really love a blog post! Mail services are all running, albeit a little slower than usual, so there’s nothing to stop you ordering online. Be sure to check the company’s social media pages for discount codes too, it kinda seems like every website has some kind of deal on right now. 

Share their social media pages or enter competitions
I’m very aware that not everybody is in a place where they’re able to online shop right now; many people have been laid off or furloughed; and it’s an incredibly sad time for so many people. If you don’t have the means to spend physical cash to show your support, that is just fine. Sharing your favourite brands’ social media pages or entering competitions again drives traffic to their pages, and in turn boosts their SEO. When you’re in a position to purchase from them again you can, but make sure to look after yourself right now! 

Take the night off cooking and order in from your favourite family run restaurant
It’s slightly different than shopping local, but all of those local (often family run) takeaway places, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops etc are going to need your custom more than ever right now. We’ve ordered takeaway food around once per week during lockdown – our go-to is always Moti Jheel, we swear it’s the best Indian food in the North East – and I’m so happy to support a business we love so much. Although drive-thru’s and dine-in restaurants are completely closed in the UK at the moment, lots of takeaway services are running and I really encourage you to take advantage of a delicious meal you don’t have to put the work in for!

Tip the staff who are still working
Tipping food places is pretty common in the UK – although unlike in other countries it’s not mandatory or even expected – but Matt and I always tip our delivery drivers! Those people are possibly working much more hours than usual or could have picked up delivering as an extra job if they’ve been laid off or furloughed during this pandemic. I think the kindness people are showing right now is such an unexpected blessing to come from a horrible season of life.

Leave positive reviews
Similarly to sharing your thoughts and comments on social media, leaving reviews on the brand’s website, TrustPilot, TripAdvisor etc really helps to drive traffic their way and encourage others to purchase, or at least browse too. Make sure to set your reviews to public so you can ensure other people can read them!

Order a gift card for future use or for a gift for a friend/family member
Many small businesses who are unable to offer their services right now – whether they don’t have the means to deliver, they’re a salon that rely on hands-on treatment or any other reason – are offering gift cards to their customers. This is a fantastic way to show your support, and get a little treat in a few months’ time when things are (hopefully) heading back to normal! You could also buy gift cards for any family or friends who love a specific store or salon, and give them a little pick-me-up during this time. 

Thank you so much for reading! Please feel free to share your favourite small businesses in the comments so we can all help to support them too 🙂 do you have any other tips on how we can support small businesses? I’ll see you on Sunday for a super exciting post… my at home pamper routine! It’s perfect for a pick-me-up especially during this time, and I can’t wait to share it with you! 

-G x

Four Things I Do Every Week To Be Productive

Hi, loves! There’s a few things I do each and every week that helps make me feel like I’m being the best version of me. I often feel like I’m trying to do too many things at once because running a blog whilst having a full time job, still making time for my social life and being able to run errands and other mundane things can sometimes feel like a lot. If I need to take time out to just relax and recharge, I’m (slowly) becoming okay with not completing my to-do list if I’m just not in the headspace to do it.

My default downtime/self care regime is often just a night in with Matthew bugging him to do a face mask with me, eat pick n mix and watch a few episodes of The Office, but I really wanted to share a few little things I do throughout each week to help me feel more productive, fulfilled and happy. Being able to do these things (among others, of course) really allows me to be productive when I have to be; downtime is so important and honestly being ‘busy’ all the time is not something I want to aim for.

Enjoy downtime in the mornings and evenings
I adore having a chilled morning or evening, especially when I can take my time over the mundane everyday things too. I try to wake up at least twenty to thirty minutes before I actually need to every day, whether it’s a work day or not, and this means I’m able to take my time a little more. Matt and I try to take an extra five minutes in bed together once our alarms have gone off, then we have a cup of tea every morning. I sometimes will a candle on my vanity table whilst I get ready, and I try to take my time doing my hair and makeup. One of my favourite parts of a weekend morning is picking my outfit for the day; I love to be able to pick clothing based on my mood that day! Is that weird?! I much prefer evenings where I have time to take a bath as showering just isn’t as relaxing to me, and I also take time to blog or read as much as I can too. I also LOVE to cook in the evenings it’s one of my favourite times of day.

Take time out to plan healthy meals
Cooking is a huge part of my night routine; whether Matt’s working late or he’s home before me it’s always a priority that we eat something hearty and healthy! I’m that weirdo that really enjoys meal planning and grocery shopping (genuinely, it’s my favourite errand to run… hahaha) and I find it really helps how I feel mentally to eat good foods. I’ve always ate lots of fruit and veggies but now more than ever Matt and I are trying to pack as many as we can into our daily meals, and cut out some of the rubbish. This year I was determined to take lunch to work with me everyday (and for Matt to do this, too!) because we were constantly eating food that made us feel crap and cost a fortune. I know we’re only two weeks into the work year but we’ve both really enjoyed eating a healthy lunch during the day, it just helps you to feel more energetic and productive. I also try to drink water as often as possible, but I’ll forever be obsessed with Diet Coke!

Read
I have no idea how people can not read books, honestly! Reading a good book is something I intentionally make time for each day, and I can’t tell you how much I love to get lost in a fictional world. I recently started to read during my lunch breaks at work which has quickly become one of my favourite times to read, I just find it the best way to escape the work environment for half an hour. In the evenings I take a bath I read in there, and I try to take at least twenty minutes before bed if I can too. Of course every day is so different; sometimes Matt and I watch TV (we’re currently obsessed with Jack Ryan!) right up until we go to sleep, and others we have a little more time to do our own thing. I’m sharing my current reading list on Wednesday, there’s so many good books in there!

Listen to motivational podcasts whilst driving
Driving is something that makes me so happy, and funnily enough I get so many blogging ideas whilst driving too. I really enjoy my alone time (I’m sure my regular readers will be quite surprised to hear that, actually) but being alone is how I re-charge. I’m an introvert and I really feel rested and relaxed after spending a little time alone each day; the only constant in this alone time during the week is my drives to and from work. I love to listen to podcasts and I find that this a perfect time to really indulge in the stories and conversations. My ultimate favourite podcast is Shagged, Married, Annoyed by my most favourite couple, Rosie & Chris Ramsey. BUT, when I want to feel inspired, motivated or just enjoy a chilled conversation, my go-to’s are How To Fail by Elizabeth Day, Happy Place by Fearne Cotton and The Estee Lalonde Show. It’s so interesting especially when I’m feeling a little bit unmotivated to hear another perspective (even on completely different situations) and it always helps me to count my blessings a little more.

Thank you so much for reading, I appreciate it more than you know. If you’re struggling with feeling unproductive or unmotivated right now, please know you have all my love and support, you’ve got this! What do you do day-to-day that makes you feel productive and prepared for your to-do list? Do you do any of the things I do, too? I’d love to know of other things I should incorporate into my life to make being productive feel that little bit easier!

-G x

Beating The January Blues

Happy Sunday, loves!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend! Matt and I had the best day yesterday; we slept in and had a super lazy morning, then we went to watch NUFC vs Cardiff City. We won 3-0 and it was SUCH a good game! These are my favourite kind of days. It was so freezing cold (we’ve had snow this week!) but we had the best time. We headed to make dinner together, watch a little Netflix and squeeze in an early night. Bliss. Today we’re hoping to have another little lie in, then get wrapped up to head for breakfast and a long walk along the coast, it’s not going to get above 2 degrees but I’m so excited! Matt’s at a work event this evening so before I pick him up I’m going to have the pamper night of all pamper nights… meaning reading An Edited Life and lounging in the bath for approximately two hours. 

I’m so excited to be sharing with you the things I’m doing to keep myself in check this month, letting you in on the little things that make me feel happy and #blessed. But, for real. The January blues are a serious thing, and it’s a month where so many people generally feel low and miserable. It’s understandable; we’re all sad the festive season is over, there’s very little sunlight and it’s constantly freezing cold. I also have so much anxiety related to the bad weather – cue tears at the sight of a few snowflakes, knowing I have to drive in it. I wish I didn’t feel this way and any tips toget over it would be much appreciated? I hope this post may make you see January in a whole different light!

Making the most of quality time with my loved ones. It’ll be no surprise to anyone who reads my blog that I treasure nothing more than quality time with my boyfriend. We make the most of being together every night and morning, and we’re extra grateful for the few ocassions per month when our work schedules alighn and we get to spend a whole day together! Planning date days and spending time with our friends and families help us feel refreshed, and as a bonus gives us things to look forward to, which is even more important in the never-ending month of January! I always look forward to coming home from work, getting my comfies on and snuggling up with Matt but I appreciate it during the cold weather more than ever. (It’s my favourite when he runs a bath for me coming home, the cutie!)

Eat foods that make me feel good. Matt and I love cooking SO much, it’s up there in my top three things to do in life. We’ve been learning and experimenting with different foods for a long time and we have our favourite, go-to recipes down. We’re professional meal planners now (probably going to talk about this in more detail at some point), and we’re still really enjoying trying new recipes. I think the Winter months are the best time to spend a little longer in the kitchen! We are big fans of #MeatlessMonday and I’m forever trying to find new vegetarian recipes – please let me know of any you love. I always feel so much better when we’re eating lots of veggies, and I’ve suddenly come to the realization that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. My grandma was right, after all! Also, I’m having a bit of a love affair with Quorn ‘chicken’ nuggets and southern fried bites right now. THEY. ARE. SO. GOOD.

Kos, June 2017. I can’t wait to experience beautiful sunsets in Croatia this year!

Make plans for the Summer. Speaking from experience, this is a great time of year to book your Summer holiday as during the never-ending dark days, Summer seems like it’s never going to come back again. There’s also often great deals in the January sales! Last year, Matt and I booked our holiday to Kos at the beginning of January, and it brightened up the dark days so much. I think when we first booked I checked our countdown on the TUI app approximately 432 times per day, but I was just so excited. We booked our holiday for this Summer last week and we’re are once again counting down the days! We’re heading to Croatia and staying in the most beautiful hotel, and we’re hoping to book up a mini break in Budapest soon too. I feel so lucky and grateful that we’re able to go on holiday! *Be right back, just checking my countdown on the TUI app…*

Don’t let the dark days be overwhelming. We all know during the Winter months when it’s dark in the morning and dark at night, it’s easy to feel miserable and sluggish. During this time of year, most of us go to work in the dark and come home in the dark, and unless you’re staring out of the office window (who’s got time for that?!) it’s easy to miss the small chunks of daylight we get all together. Matt and I always spend a little time cuddled up in the mornings, having a chat and a giggle together no matter how tired we feel or how miserable it is outside. Simple things like enjoying a cup of tea or glass of orange juice whilst we get ready for the day makes the day off to a better start. If the dark mornings are something that you really struggle with, you can purchase alarm clocks (like this one) that gradually wake you up in the morning with light, similar to daylight in the Spring/Summer months. I secretly like the really dark days when it’s pouring rain… just me?

Moving my body. Exercise is important all year round, but during the Winter months I think it’s even more important to make that extra effort to get the blood pumping around my body. As much as I’d love to be, I’m not a gym person and the thought of spending my evenings in the gym fills me with dread. Instead, I love yoga and how personal it is – I can practice at any time of day, anywhere I choose to (a few sun salutations on my lunch break isn’t weird, okay!) My favourite online instructor is the lovely Adrienne, and if yoga is something you’d like to get into this year I’d highly recommend checking her channel out. Matt and I are finally taking up swimming and we’re hoping to go at least twice per week. We’ve been saying this since we visited Kos back in June as we loved being in the water so much, so I’m proud of us for finally doing it! We love going on long walks and the Winter months are perfect for getting out and exploring; we have the beach on one side of our little town and the countryside on the other, we are SO lucky. I can’t wait to get wrapped up and get outside as much as possible!

Setting goals for the week/month/year ahead. I thrive off having goals and plans, and ticking things off a list is my idea of a good time. Lame, I know. If you are a goal orientated person, I’d highly recommend writing down the things you’d like to achieve this year, maybe the places you want to go and any personal things you’d like to work on. Even if this isn’t typically your style, give it a go! I wrote down all of the things I’d like to achieve this year back in December – I wrote a post including most of those here – and I’ve already put most things into practice. I also have set myself a few blog related goals that I’m hoping to achieve throughout the year. Goals can be anything you’d like to change, improve or work on, and there’s no harm in pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Just make sure not to be too hard on yourself if a goal doesn’t work out, it’s another chance to give it time and start again!

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Enjoy indoor activities. I am such a homebody and I definitely feel a little bit excited to spend a few more cosy evenings in the house with Matt. That being said, I also love when the nights are bright, sunny and warm – it’s hard to explain HA! My ideal night in during the cold Winter months involves watching a movie or a few shows on Netflix, and eating a really good meal that we’ve cooked. Then of course, snuggling in together for an early night because we’re 24 going on 84. Use your extra time in the house to organise your space, declutter your wardrobes (you can read my experience on that here) and begin your Spring cleaning early. If you haven’t watched Marie Kondo’s new show on Netflix – get on it! You’ll want to stay indoors for DAYS organising and de-cluttering. I know Matt and I will be spending the next few months finding new shows on Netflix, cooking some new dishes and wearing our dressing gowns like our lives depends on it! It’s a great time to pick up a new skill, and if you’re looking to learn how to cook I’d highly recommend beginning now. I’m posting a recipe for our favourite chilli in the next few weeks so be sure to come back and check that out!

Supplementing the lack of Vitamin D. It’s a pretty common fact that in the Winter months most of us Brits are Vitamin D deficient, as there really isn’t much daylight and we don’t see the sun for weeks at a time. It’s important to supplement the lack of Vitamin D as this can have a real impact on your general mood and well being, or at least I find it does. You can get Vitamin D from lots of foods, including eggs and fish, or you can supplement with tablets*. I picked up vitamin D tablets from Sainsbury’s and I’ve been taking them every day. Spending as much time as possible outside when you can during the daylight hours is so good for my health and I’d recommend that over any food/supplements! Whether it’s taking a quick walk on your lunch break or getting out of bed earlier than you’d like to on a Sunday morning, go outside and enjoy how beautiful and still everything is during the colder months!
*Speak to your doctor! NHS recommendations linked here.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you found this post helpful and picked up a few ideas of things to implement in your life this January. Do you have any tips or ideas of things we can do to beat the January blues?

-G x