Something Sweet Gift Box

Happy Friday friends! Is it just me or has this been the LONGEST week ever? I am so looking forward to shutting down and spending my weekend relaxing and binge watching Stranger Things. I also am planning on doing a little Bathroom remodel this weekend as well. Getting wild!

Anyway, today I want to share with you a super cute gift box idea perfect for the holiday season. Because who doesn’t like a little something sweet, especially this time of year.

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Let’s take a look inside shall we?

Sweenors Chocolate Shells & Gummie Lobsters.

Sweenor’s Chocolates started modestly more than 60 years ago as a home business in Cranston, Rhode Island.Now in two Rhode Island locations and online, Sweenor’s Chocolates is owned and operated by the third- and fourth-generation confectioners. Did I mention that they are AMAZING. Seriously, go in there and have some of their Chocolate Covered Vanilla Caramels with Sea Salt. Incredible.

Nettie’s Kettle Corn.

Joe Clemente and Linda Rossi, both of North Providence, Rhode Island, own and operate Nettie’s Kettle Corn. Not only do they have amazing Origional Kettle Corn but they have a ton of incredible flavors including Cayenne, Italian Herb, Vanilla, and my favorite Jalapeno.

Who doesn’t love receiving a perfectly crafted gift box just for them? It is like Christmas morning! Look out for more gift box ideas (and a special announcement) in the coming weeks.

Have a great (and relaxing) weekend everyone!

xx Casey

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Creating a Business Plan

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One of my favorite quotes comes from none other than the infamous rapper Jay Z and it plainly states “I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man.”

No matter what I am doing whether it is blogging or starting a new venture, I like to think of myself as a business. I am the brand and this “thing” is what I am using to represent that. Branding yourself or a business is a whole other post in itself that will be coming up very soon.

In my past two posts I have been teasing the idea of a new project that I am working on in addition to blogging and my day job. I am not ready to reveal this big venture just yet, but I am going to begin sharing little snippets along the way.

Today I am talking about the first steps of any new venture – what to include in a business plan. Now it may be tempting when you are first starting out to just jump into the fun stuff (guilty…), but there are some important logistics that need to be taken care of first. And of course, business plans will vary greatly based on your type of business and intentions with the plan itself. These are just some essential elements to get you started.

01 An Overview 

Before you can get into things like budgets and marketing strategies, you first need to provide the general overview of your business. This includes your business structure, mission and purpose, location, and type of business.

02 Products & Services 

Obviously your business plan needs to include the products or services that you are providing. Start by categorizing your products and services. Then include a brief description for each.

03 Sales & Marketing Plan 

How are you going to reach your customers? The marketing portion of your business plan will detail your strategies for marketing your business to a potential buyer.

The sales portion of the plan includes your pricing structure and how you determined that price.

04 Market Analysis 

Who are your customers? What is their age range, gender, and defining characteristics? You also need to describe the current state of your industry. What is the size of the industry, and what are the current trends? This will help you with the next section.

05 Competitive Analysis 

Who are your competitors? List them out. What are their pro’s and con’s and how will you do things differently? How is your business going to stand out in the crowd?

06 Budget 

A necessary evil of any business, the financial plan. First you need to establish the amount you require in order to start your business. Then factor in any ongoing business expenses including equipment, supplies, professional fees, etc. Next you need to look ahead. What are your projected revenues? How much do you need to bring in to break even?

A business plan can be intimidating. It takes a lot of time, research, and number crunching to put a successful plan in place. Once you finish though, you are one step closer to your goal – success!

xx Casey

Small State, Big Ideas

One of the most amazing things about Providence is that it is a city full of creators. From Chefs to Bloggers to Small Business Owners, Providence really is inspiring. And it’s not just Providence- this creativity spans throughout the entire state.

This past week I went to two awesome events and met some incredible small business owners. On Wednesday I went to Providence Monthly’s 20th Birthday Party at Hope Artiste Village, and Sunday was the last Providence Flea event downtown. So today I thought I would share with you some of my favorite local creators.

Blank Space Collection . Hallie is a Providence based illustrator and fiber artist, and the owner of the incredible Blank Space Collection etsy shop. She makes some beautiful, sarcastic, and hilarious embroideries and sketches.

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One Oliver. This shop sells beautifully “punny” illustrated cards perfect for any occasion. Sidenote – some of these also look super cute framed on your wall!

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Earth & Anchor Soap Co. is a hand made soap company here in Providence. Get ready to smell amazing with some help from their Cold Brew Coffee Porter Soap. Not only do they make soaps but they have Bath Salt Soaks, Face Masks, Essential Oils, Lip Balms, and more.

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The Backyard Food Company is a locally grown Food Company that specializes in killer pickles, spicy and sweet relish, fresh jams, and the most amazing salsa. If you are not putting their hot red relish on your burgers you are doing something wrong.

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Want to hear about more independently owned and locally sourced businesses? There are SO MANY incredibly unique ones like these to share, so I will be turning this into a new series here on My Nine Lives. It is so important to support local businesses such as these, and I am very excited to play a part in it (in more ways than one – I promise more on that soon!)

xx Casey

New Season, New Goals

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There is a quote by one of my favorite authors F. Scott Fitzgerald that sums up how I feel about the months ahead: “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall”. With October looming I could not agree more. My favorite season is finally here, and this is definitely the time of year I feel most inspired.

So what better time than to start looking at where you are in life and where you would like to be, and creating some goals to get you there? Today I am sharing with you a couple of my goals for the month of October and beyond and how I am planning on getting there.

First things first let’s talk about the tools that I am going to use to help myself plan, stay on track, and stay inspired. I love agendas and notebooks, but I have not found a lifestyle planner that works the way I would like it to. So I created my own. I used the website Canva.com to create a Lifestyle Planner that works for me. I am not going to share pictures of my planner as it contains private information, but let me know if you would like me to share with you the downloadable versions of the pages I created!

01 My first big Goal for fall is Budgeting. I want to get a better handle on my finances and start building a savings for the future. I have created a calendar spread mapping out my weekly income, the bills due that week, how much I have left for miscellaneous spending, and how much I can put into savings. I will also be savings my recipes and tracking each charge for the month so I can have a bigger picture of where my money is going. Am I spending too much on takeout? Coffee? I am going to find out.

02 I have said it before, but this month I am taking it seriously – I will drink 2.7 liters of water every day for the entire month. At the end of the month I will track how I feel and see if it really does make a difference. I have been getting headaches quite a bit this month, and I am curious to see if they are less frequent the more water I drink.

03 I took the last two months off from the gym, and despite the fact that I have still been eating relatively healthy and lost another 3lbs, I never felt better than when I was going to the gym at least four times a week. So for the month of October I am getting back on track and moving closer to losing those last 10lbs.

04 The past four months have been a whirlwind of events which has been a complete blast, but I am ready for a break. October is all about having “me time”. I want to relax, read a book and sit at a coffee shop, binge watch a new show, learn a new recipe, and spend some time alone.

05 All of my goals so far have to do with bettering myself in some way and setting myself up for success in the future. My goal for October is to begin writing out a five year plan and focus on where I see myself going personally and professionally in the next couple years.

And there you have it, my goals for the season. Does anyone else feel inspired as the leaves begin to change? It really does give you a sense of new beginnings, and I am ready for it.

xx Casey

Falling Back Into It

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Good Morning Friends! I hate to keep saying it has been a while, but.. it’s been a while hasn’t it?

It has been almost a year now since I wrote my first post here on My Nine Lives and began a new chapter in my blogging journey. Right out the gate I was posting four times a week throughout the winter and spring, and then when summer approached and my schedule began filling up I just could not keep up. But you know this already.

There are three big reasons why I keep coming back to blogging. One is because I love connecting with people who have similar passions as I do. Two is because I love to create, and blogging gives me an outlet to do so. Three is because it makes me excited. Which is most important. Because if something doesn’t make you excited then why are you doing it?

So here I am, not promising to be the most consistent blogger in the world. But with the change of seasons comes a whole new sense of inspiration and I am really excited to share with you some awesome content two days a week beginning today. So you will be getting a little My Nine Lives every Monday and Friday. However, if I get a wave of inspiration who is to say I won’t post more? This is a journey. And I am so grateful that you have been on this ride with me for the past year.

I have another busy weekend coming up which I will tell you all about in Monday’s post. But until then, have a wonderful weekend friends! My favorite time of year is upon us.

xx Casey

Buy A Lady A Drink

Today I want to talk about an incredible cause that is being supported by one of my favorite beers Stella Artois in conjunction with water.org. Their goal is to help end the global water crisis. According to their website, today 663 million people live without clean water. For more than 25 years water.org has pioneered safe water and sanitation solutions that give women hope, children health, and communities a future.

If you buy one of the Stella Artois limited edition chalices, you are providing 5 years of clean water to a country in need. You can help by purchasing a Brazil, Cambodia, or Uganda Chalice. Each of them are incredibly beautiful and go to an even more beautiful cause.

Stella Artois has helped provide more than 800,000 people in the developing world with access to five years of clean water through the sale of more than 225,000  Limited-Edition Chalices and by directly donating more than $3 million to Water.org.  But they are only just beginning.

Just $6.25 gives communities the resources they need to survive. Go to stellaartois.com to buy yours today.

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xx Casey

Give Back: Shelter to Soldier

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Today I want to talk about something a little different. I want to take a moment and bring awareness to a cause that I am extremely passionate about, and the people who are out there right now trying to make a difference.

Every 69 minutes a US Veteran commits suicide. These are people who have sacrificed everything for our freedom. Every day 3,200 dogs are euthanized nationwide. These dogs are unwanted, abandoned, and treated poorly. What do these two have in common? They both feel like they have been given up on – like they have no support. Soldiers have given up everything to protect our freedoms and keep us safe. In turn, dogs rely on our love and support to keep them safe.

Shelter to Soldier is a CA 501c3 nonprofit organization that adopts dogs from local shelters and trains them to become psychiatric service dogs for post-9/11 combat veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, or other psychological injuries associated with traumatic service experiences. This organization believes in the philosophy that Veterans and dogs can support, love, and heal each other.

There are so many incredible stories on the Shelter to Soldier website from Veterans who have gained so much from this program. Not only does this program help support the Vet, but their families as well. They are both given a second chance at life together, and that is a beautiful thing.

By helping this cause you are saving two lives at once. Supporting their mission allows them to rescue more dogs, and provides the funding needed to support all of their needs. There are a couple different ways that you can help support this cause. First is to make a direct donation online on their website. You can become a sponsor or the program or host a sponsored event to set up a fundraiser for their mission. Or you can buy something from their online shop which gives proceeds to the organization.

As someone who’s family members and some friends have been/are in the military, I know how much they sacrifice for us. Check out their website to find out more about what you can do to help contribute to this cause.

xx Casey