You'll Find More Than Food At Your Local Farmers Market, You'll Make Some Of Your Best Memories, Too

You'll Find More Than Food At Your Local Farmers Market, You'll Make Some Of Your Best Memories, Too

It's not just for some overpriced tomatoes.

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Back in my hometown, I had a reputation among friends of always going for the smaller brand. They teased (much to my happiness, actually) me about being "all natural," or always "organic." They knew that sometimes waking up at noon after a Friday night sleepover, I would probably have been gone for a couple hours already.

It was because Saturdays are when the farmers markets are held.

Living in Nashville, Tennessee, I have the perfect balance of urban and rural life, not to mention an amazing music scene. Off the top of my head, I could name five or six weekly markets all around where I live, yet my favorite remains to be the smaller Franklin Farmers Market.

Franklin itself might be the most beautiful little town in the south, not to mention the country. It's filled with history, incredible food, adorable boutiques, and surrounded by some of the most gorgeous pieces of farmland you'll ever stumble upon.

But at the heart of this little land of history, underneath the roof of a revived, rustic factory, little booths begin to pop up in the barely-risen sunlight. Farmers, artisans, and people with passions come from counties all over hours before dawn every week, just to share what they have sown: a woman with a beautiful little lavender farm, a smiling man who may have stumbled upon the best cheese recipe ever created, an Amish family with the best chocolate milk in the whole world and dozens of others.

I make a day out of it with whoever I can drag out of bed on a Saturday morning, that person usually being my mother. It only takes 20 minutes or so to walk past every booth, if you're going at a slow pace. But it takes my mom and me around an hour to go all the way around. Each vendor knows me by my face after going for as long as I have and I make a point to talk to each and every one of my favorite booths, and every new one I see popping up on the scene.

There have been a few special booths that have caught my attention recently. One of the biggest booths, a man who builds frames and creates beautiful artwork on display in a trailer, had two little tiny tables set up beside it. The man was going on with his business as usual and I stepped toward the little children tables and peered down at what they had on display.

I saw little tiny blankets and pillows sewn roughly into shapes and buckets of "organic slime" with all sorts of different scents. The little girl behind the table immediately had me sold as soon as she started talking. She had made "dolly blankets and pillows" that your dolls were sure to love. The little boy went off about his awesome cool sticky slime, and some even had little beads in it for texture!

They were so excited, and my mom and I could not stop smiling. The man, who I learned was their father, walked over and started talking to us. They had been so excited by what their dad did that they wanted to sell what they loved to make too so that they could make themselves happy while they made other people happy, "just like Dad!".

When the two were distracted, the man thanked us for listening so kindly to them, and to assure us that we shouldn't feel obligated to buy their products. My mother and I could not stop beaming and bought one set of dolly bedding and one bucket of slime. The children weren't as excited about receiving the money as they were that they saw us walking away with their little works of art and love, the labels on them scribbled in crayon.

There was another elderly couple there who had the most beautiful wooden carvings and stunning plants who I have talked to for a collective amount of hours the past year. They told me they woke up at 4 a.m. every Saturday to drive here from their town three counties over. They had the kindest souls I've ever met and have offered me a couple of internships. They told me that they couldn't afford to pay me in money, but could give me any of the plants I desired. They were both highly educated, and experts in multiple fields and any knowledge they could have taught me would have been priceless, and had I not been headed to college this year, I would have taken them up on their offer.

The honey couple. The Air-Force veteran and his wife, who sell their fantastic honey and bee pollen.

The mother of four who has children at my high school, who makes homemade salves, tea, and tinctures that have spared me from sickness and soreness too many times to count. Who beamed when I knew what Calendula flower was.

The goat cheese lady.

The fresh-pasta people.

The bone-broth man.

The woman who makes jewelry out of old guitar strings.

The man who makes soap.

The custom sign making man.

Every time I see these people and everyone else at the farmers market, there is nothing but joy on all of our faces.

My mother and I probably spend an outrageous amount of money for the gifts we buy there for what we could find at Publix or on Amazon, but we do not regret it one bit. Nine dollars for a huge loaf of bread that I could find for two at Costco? A lot of people would scoff at that. But why it is so much better is that I am not spending nine dollars for just a loaf of bread. That money is going back to the passion that brought that baker, that farmer or that stay-at-home mom to the market in the first place. That money is going to the rainy day fund of the older couple that is saving for the expensive plane tickets back to their hometown for their 50th high school reunion.

That money isn't paying for some CEO's fourth vacation home. It's paying for a daughter to go to dance lessons. It's paying for that little boy's boy scout trip. It's giving back to the community that I love to see every Saturday morning. It's giving more, for happiness above everything.

Go to your local farmers market, open your eyes and your hearts, and feel, not just see, what I mean.

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13 Summer Struggles Only Thick Girls Understand

Chafing. So much chafing.

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Summer is a lovely time. A time of cookouts, swimming, and sunny weather. But if you're a " thick girl," summer sometimes brings more unpleasantries than it does for slimmer women. No matter how beautiful and confident you are in your body, it can bring some struggles.

1. The living hell that is shorts-shopping

Step 1: Find the biggest size the store has.

Step 2: (If you can even get those on): Realize your stomach is being squeezed into the top, your butt is falling out of the back and your thighs are having the life squished out of them.

Step 3: Realize why winter isn't so bad.

2. And dealing with them even after finding a pair that "fits"

Nothing like taking a pair of shorts home you remember fitting you okay in the store and then walking for 45 seconds and pulling them out of your butt or crotch 17 times. Truly a magical experience.

3. And every bathing suit you try on shows more skin than you'd planned

Even the most conservative bathing suit turns into cleavage-city and a non-cheeky set of bottoms turns into a thong. I promise, older people glaring at me in my sexual bathing suit, I didn't mean for this to happen!

4. Chafing. So much chafing.

No better feeling than four minutes into wearing short shorts realizing that your inner thighs are literally tearing themselves apart. Body Glide and baby powder are a thick girl's No. 1 necessity.

5. Loving rompers. Rompers not loving you.

Rompers are made with short and skinny girls in mind. Heaven forbid you're not short, and heaven forbid you're not skinny. Rompers are like a mystical article of clothing that, no matter what, always just barely doesn't fit.

6. Imagining wearing a sundress with a strapless bra and just laughing

Of course, not all thick girls are well-endowed in the boob department, but if you are, you understand how hilarious the thought of you wearing a strapless bra truly is.

7. And bralettes are a thing of fantasy

Once again, bralettes are designed for a very specific body type. One that I do not fall into.

8. Feeling like you need to constantly defend yourself for dressing like you want to

There are so many posts and tweets and just general ideals that people have that certain sized women can't wear certain clothing. You shouldn't feel the need to defend yourself for wearing a cute crop top or a bikini, but you will.

9. And always feeling looked at when you're rocking your swimsuit

Yes, I see your judging eyes, and yes, they are making me feel like shit. It doesn't matter how confident you are in your body, people looking at you like you just killed somebody just because you're wearing something typically made for smaller women doesn't make you feel good.

10. Did I mention chafing?

I just felt like something so horrible couldn't just be mentioned once.

11. Online shopping for cute summer outfits and then none of them fitting you correctly

There's always the dreaded "one-size-fits-all" for plus-size women. As if there's just one way to be plus-size. No matter how much they promise online that it'll fit well, it won't.

12. Seeing tiny girls complaining about losing their "summer bodies"

So many tweets talking about choosing food over a summer body. So many profile pictures of traditionally skinny women. I'm not saying that thick girls are the only ones who can complain about their summer bodies, and thick girls do not have a monopoly one not feeling confident in their bodies. But it is hard to see those posts knowing that those women would be glorified in their swimwear while you'd be gawked at.

13. The "you go girl!" comments on your oh-so-brave bikini photos

Compliments are nice, and positive comments while wearing a bikini go a long way. But the dreaded "you go girl" comment just seems so condescending. Just treat me like anyone else you'd see wearing a bikini. I promise, I'd like to feel like that.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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5 Companies You Should Give Your Business to This Holiday Season

5 places you can feel good about buying gifts from this Christmas

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With the holiday season now in full swing, many of us are searching for the perfect gifts for those close to us. Here are 5 companies that you can actually feel confident purchasing from and giving your business to.

1. Love Your Melon

You may have seen people walking around with these trendy hats and beanies with fluffy poms and patches sewn on the front saying "Love Your Melon". Though it might seem like a cute saying and just another new fad, these hats are creating an impact that we should keep around for as long as possible. Created by two students in an entrepreneurship class at the University of St. Thomas, this company gives 50% of their net profit from all their product sales, to the Love Your Melon fund, which supports their nonprofit partners fighting childhood cancer and organizes therapeutic experiences and charitable programs for patients and their families.

The company began its journey to put a hat on every child in America fighting cancer in October of 2012 and since has done just that. Surpassing their original goal of giving 45,000 hats (one for every child fighting cancer in the nation), to date the company has given over 149,000 hats to child cancer patients and 4.7 million dollars to pediatric cancer research.

Though they're known for their beanies, you can purchase headbands, apparel, blankets, home goods, and other accessories at https://loveyourmelon.com

2. Pura Vida Bracelets 

This popular bracelets company and their string bracelets have taken a lot of the world by storm. It all began when two college graduates Griffin That and Paul Goodman, took a celebratory trip to Costa Rica, where they encountered two native artisans who specialized in bracelet making.

The Southern California men talked to the artisans about their business, and how they were currently living in poverty with their families. requested an order of 400 bracelets, to take back to San Diego and sell. When the 400 were quickly gone, the partnership began. Now, the company named after the popular saying, and more importantly way of life, meaning "pure life", encourages their customers to enjoy the simplest things in life that bring them joy.

Every bracelet purchased on their website is handcrafted by artisans all over the world, as their community has expanded to over 350 countries worldwide, including El Salvador and India. They have also started a Charity Collection that has allowed them to partner with over 174 different charities and donate over $1,534,879.

If you're looking to purchase any accessories this holiday season for gifts or for yourself, visit https://www.puravidabracelets.com and use the code MICALAHBRUNDAGE20 for 20% off your order!

3. The Giving Keys

A hidden gem to many, this Pay It Forward company has managed to create 143,612 hours of work for people transitioning out of homelessness in Los Angeles, California. They provide people experiencing homelessness with full-time jobs at the living wage in LA, with benefits and paid time off for appointments regarding housing, education, and casework.

The company hires people who are homeless to create and sell accessories all incorporating keys, such as key necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Typically each key is stamped with an inspirational word, such as their 3 core values dream, create, and inspire. The company in the spirit of their purpose which is forgiving and pay it forward, encourage their customers to at some point, at their own discretion, pass on their key to someone who needs to be reminded of the inspirational message and the meaning behind this company in its entirety.

All this information and the accessories sold and created by The Giving Keys, can be found at https://www.thegivingkeys.com

4. Etsy 

If you want to support small businesses and their owners, Etsy is the perfect website to buy from this holiday season. With it's increased popularity over the years, many have heard of the site where individuals can create their own online "shops" and sell personalize or handmade goods and antiques. Etsy strives to allow creators of goods a place to connect with millions of potential buyers and keep the interaction between people, even when it comes to online shopping.

The possibilities are endless on Etsy, as there are shops pertaining to stationary, home goods, toys, art, collectibles, clothing https://www.etsy.com

5. Love+One International 

If you're a fan of country singer Thomas Rhett and his wife Lauren Akins like I am, you may have heard of this organization. The couple holds it near and dear to their heart, as it strives to help children in Uganda, where one of their daughters is adopted from.

Love+One was founded by Suzanne Mayernick, also a parent of a daughter adopted from Uganda, JosieLove. Upon the Mayernick's arrival to Uganda to bring their then 3-1/2-year-old home, they found her sick with malaria and tuberculosis and HIV positive. As her daughter received care and love back in their home, Suzanne Mayernick was inspired to help these children back in Uganda and other underprivileged communities.

She created her organization 147 Million Orphans, which later transpired into a charity operation focused on providing ministry, health and care needs to kids named Love+One International, named after her daughter JosieLove and using the + to indicate their support for individuals who are HIV positive. You can find more information, donate, and buy Love+One gear to support this awesome cause at https://www.loveoneinternational.org

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