Some of my favorite trips are mini road trips with my husband or with the whole family. My husband Steve and I had the best date night a few months ago when we went out for dinner and then stayed at the new Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott next to the lake and only about 6 blocks from where we live. We had a blast and it completely felt like we were in another city. It was a much needed reset! You really don’t have to travel far to have a lot of fun. So this awesome date night we had inspired me to create a shopping getaway event at my store on Feb 24th with tropical drinks, treats from the bakery and we are giving away one mini trip package for two on Feb 24th! Package includes: one nights stay at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in DL with a lake view, two $100 Nines gift cards, $40 For lunch at Brygge Taps & Tastes, $60 for dinner at Hub 41! Visit our Instagram or Facebook page to get entered! This would be fun for a girls trip, date night trip or a Mom & Me day! Hope to see you February 24th!
I remember watching tv shows like Oprah when I was little where an inspirational person would get nominated for a makeover or a prize and I remember thinking I should write in and nominate my Mom. I really wanted my Mom to know how incredible I thought she was and I also wanted to see her get a little TLC since she always made everyone else a priority. Now that I’m a mother of four I look back in awe at how tough she was and how she managed to work two jobs and take care of us. I think back to hard times like when the U.S. bombed Baghdad when I was 9 years old and my Mom was immediately deployed. I still get teary eyed remembering that day at the airport when my Dad had to pull me out of her arms because I didn’t want to see my Momma go to war. I draw strength from inspirational people like my Mom and I know others do too. In a world where we often forget just how many incredible people there are around us I want to take a little time to celebrate somebody who’s inspiring others. This holiday season I want to pay it forward to a special someone who inspires you! Message us and nominate someone who deserves a little pampering from us! We will be picking one lucky winner who we will be surprising in December! Happy Giving Tuesday!
When my husband and I heard the news that the owners of Lake Country Bakery (Dan & Kim) were retiring and selling their business we were bummed at the thought of our downtown losing this little gem that sits just two spots down from THE NINES. This little bakery has been around forever and has always been a place where we treat our kids to a periodic fresh snail donut or a dinosaur cookie. Every morning you can smell the freshly baked bread & donuts smell that permeates Washington Avenue and it’s hard to imagine not having that anymore. We knew that other people in our community also liked this bakery but we had no idea that this little bakery was supplying most of our favorite local restaurants ( Brew, Lakeside, Hub 41, Hotel Shoreham, Zorbaz, Bleachers, Holiday Inn to name a few), and our local hospitals, hotels & gas stations with bread, buns, donuts, cakes and other goodies to the point where Dan & Kim can hardly keep up with their booming bakery business.
Dan & Kim are ready to retire now but dreamed of selling their bakery to someone who would keep it a bakery for the community to enjoy. My husband and I talked a lot about buying the bakery but just wasn’t sure if we should pull the trigger. I tried to put the bakery idea in the back of my head and forget about it, much like I did four years ago when I had what I thought was a crazy idea of opening a clothing store called THE NINES lol! Like clockwork things would keep popping up that made us think this bakery thing might be meant to be. Including our trip to Magnolia Market in Waco a few months ago where our plan was to get inspired for a little home decor nook in our Nines store but I ended up falling in love with Joanna’s little bakery while we were there. It was another big sign. I told my husband that I don’t want anything for our life that wasn’t in the cards but I do believe sometimes you have to push the envelope and not just wait for things to fall into your lap. So late one night I asked my husband to post something on his personal Facebook page and ask for experienced bakers who were looking for a new experience and if we got any bites we should take it as a sign it was meant to be and if we fall flat we give up and chalk it up to it was meant for someone else. We ended up finding talented bakers and an award winning cake decorator so we took that as the final signs that we were meant to buy this adorable little bakery!
I don’t know if I wanted to buy this bakery because food has always been one of my passions or if the HGTV lover in me and my husband couldn’t wait to update and revamp this bakery into the bakery of our dreams or if it was knowing from one entrepreneur couple to another how much time, sweat, tears & love has been poured into this business by Dan & Kim over the last 25 years but something touched us and we felt we needed to keep it running.
Dan & Kim are staying on with us at the bakery through the summer to train and teach our amazing baking team all of their recipes for a smooth transition. We want the community to be a big part of this bakery so we will be doing taste tests and other fun promotions very soon. This fall/winter we will begin the renovation process where we will be revamping this sweet little spot with my creative ideas and my husband’s amazing carpentry skills. The bakery will stay open it’s normal hours throughout this process. We look forward to serving you at what we will be renaming “Crafted Bakery” as everything we bake will be hand crafted from scratch just like the good old days. We are excited and so proud to continue on with many of Dan & Kim’s recipes and will also be adding lots of our personal favorite recipes inspired from our home and our travels Like our Crafted Bakery page to stay updated!
It’s already been a year since I wrote this post below after receiving a letter from Becker County Human Services. After it posted last year THE NINES ended up raising enough money to send local foster kids to camp and they even hand wrote me the sweetest thank you letters! If you didn’t read my post from last year please read and enjoy 10% off all of your purchases all week both online and in the store (3/27 – 4/1). We will be donating a percentage of our sales for the entire week to help send local kids to camp again this summer! Use coupon code camp10 online.
PLEASE READ! I received this letter last week from Becker County Human Services asking for a small donation to help local foster kids go to summer camp. I’ve never openly talked about this before (and I will probably go throw up in the bathroom after this posts as I don’t like to get personal lol) but I was in foster care for a very short period of time when I was 14. I started telling my husband one of the painful memories that came to my mind after reading the Becker County letter and I couldn’t stop crying. When I think back and remember how traumatic it was and how I almost gave up on my life, I can’t help but want to somehow help these kids and give them some type of glimmer of hope and let them know how loved they truly are and that even with a sometimes tough beginning in life there is a very bright future ahead even though you can’t always see it. I’m not going to share my full story as I’m saving it for a book I’m writing but I felt I needed to share this. Monday and Tuesday this week I will be giving a percentage of my sales at THE NINES to help these fabulous local foster children go to summer camp. Enjoy 10% off your purchases and shop for a good cause Monday & Tuesday!
God Bless! -Lauren
Sunday mornings call for a big cup of coffee and an inspirational read! For a while now a few of my close friends and customers have been telling me how much my story reminds them of Joanna’s story from the reality show Fixer Upper. I haven’t found the time to watch her show between the store and our four boys so I bought this book last week while I was traveling to learn more about her. I found out I have so much in common with Joanna and my husband is just like Chip lol!!! There were so many crazy coincidences we share that I kept slapping my husband’s leg telling him you have to read this paragraph because you will not believe this! One of the many crazy coincidences is when she talked about opening her first store. She talked to Chip before she opened and they decided she needed to make $200 a day to be able to stay afloat and on her grand opening day she was so nervous that nobody would show up that she was hyperventilating and then the customers started to pour in! (This is exactly how it went for me right down to the exact daily sales goal and talk with my husband Steve and lots and lots of hyperventilating lol!) Another great part of her book is where she talked about her customers. There were women that stopped by her store and spent a lot of money and there was another customer who never bought a thing. She would show up now and then and poke around and one time she told her “I just come here because I want to be here. This place inspires me.” Joanna said this is one of the greatest compliments she could imagine and that it affirmed that she had accomplished exactly what she had set out to do. This gave me goosebumps as I read this because again this is just like my own story. I remember shortly after we opened telling my husband how fulfilling it was to watch women come in and have fun whether they bought anything or not. I was and still am so humbled and honored that people love to come and visit and sometimes from hours away. I love seeing the customers everyday who stop by to waste time before a doctor’s appointment, or the customers that love to just walk around the store for a pick me up, seeing friends meet up at the store to shop and catch up, or when three generations of women make memories shopping together and watching couples and families shop together and the husbands enjoy sitting in the man cave or the dressing room lounge while their wives shop to their hearts content. Hearing the laughter radiate through what used to be an old abandoned theater makes me feel like I’m doing what I set out to do. I woke up feeling so grateful for every single one of my customers this morning and want to sincerely thank you for being a part of what feels like a dream!
We dropped off and donated a truck full of shoes to Dress for Success in Fargo this afternoon and it brought back a memory that made me smile. I remember how nervous I was when I first opened the store about 3 1/2 years ago. I was insanely scared at the thought of the store not surviving in our little tourist town. My biggest fear: What if things don’t sell? What would I do then? I faced this big fear head on everyday, prayed like crazy, worked my butt off and I persevered. So this big fear I had, things not selling, turned out to be a blessing. The awesome part is when things don’t sell I bring those items to Dress For Success who in turn help women with interview/work outfits to help get them back into the workforce. From time to time Dress For Success posts pics of the women they help and when I see those women wearing the clothes or shoes donated from my store it’s a reward that money could never give me. Knowing that a pair of shoes or an article of clothing from my store helped a woman feel confident for her job interview is not only something that feeds my soul but it reminds me to not let fear stop me. I just wanted to share this in case someone needed to hear it
Our general manager, Sheila, came to work not too long ago talking about this local firefighter who has literally been through hell and back and is now speaking and reaching out to others about PTSD and Suicide. As she talked about Scott Geiselhart and his inspirational Facebook posts I had goosebumps and knew right away this was going to be our next Pay it Forward!
We called up Scott and told him we wanted to pay it forward with a new outfit from THE NINES and also share his story on our blog! Scott agreed and stopped by the store last week before we opened so we could spend a little extra time finding him outfits that made him feel good and learning about his story. There were a few times Scott came out of the dressing room a little choked up and teary eyed that we were giving him a free outfit. He kept saying nobody’s ever done anything like this for me before. As Sheila and I fought back our own tears, we were reminded why we love our rewarding job so much. Helping someone find an outfit that makes them do a double take in the mirror, though it’s not saving peoples lives, it gives people a big boost and it’s a beautiful thing to be part of.
After we found some great outfits and gave Scott some styling tips I talked with him upstairs to hear more about his story. He told me about his days of being a local Fire Fighter in Frazee and having to respond to horrific accidents involving children and families. The nightmares of these accidents consumed Scott and he blamed himself when victims didn’t survive. He said it was hard to go home to his family and go to bed like nothing happened after seeing people lose their loved ones. The trauma over 15 years had caused PTSD but he didn’t know it. He struggled with the nightmares and became short tempered, angry and eventually turned to drugs to stay awake to escape the nightmares. Then, just a little over two years ago, in hopes to end his suffering once and for all, he tried to take his own life but the gun didn’t go off.
Scott believes it was divine intervention that the gun didn’t go off and he then began trying to figure out why. Scott learned about PTSD and was able to get help and now he’s on a mission to help others!
Scott says “It can happen to anybody, PTSD, depression, suicide it’s all hand in hand and it’s not being talked about enough.”
Since, Scott has made it a personal mission to save lives. He’s been traveling to fire departments across Minnesota speaking about PTSD and suicide.
“Now I just want to go back and try to prevent this from happening to anyone else,” says Scott.
If you or someone you know is struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifelife at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 2-1-1 to be connected with Firstlink’s 24-hour helpline. There is also a Firefighter/EMS Assistance Program, call 1-888-731-FIRE (3473).
Scott is also part of a group called Never. Give. Up. It’s a group with a mission to raise money for suicide prevention and awareness education, to suppose those who suffer so they will never give up.
My Dad made this video (click on the link above to watch) for me for my birthday last week and it brought a tear to my eye so I wanted to share it with all of you This video is all about the transformation and behind the scenes of what went into remodeling our current store location before our Re-Grand Opening in November. Deciding after just one year of being in business to move from our 1700 square foot boutique into an 4600 square foot old theater was definitely a risk and I’m not going to lie, I was scared at times during the process especially when we realized the remodeling challenges that lie ahead. This video makes me cry because it reminds me that you need to push forward when you’re scared and not back down even though life would be easier if you didn’t grow and if you truly believe in yourself you keep pushing forward no matter how many people tell you that you might fail. I remember at times thinking ” We are honestly crazy! How are we ever going to pull this off?” but I had incredible faith and an amazing husband with serious carpentry skills lol. I still look at the store and find it hard to believe we did it and every time I hear a customer tell me how much fun they had shopping I cant help but feel humbled and grateful that my once crazy dream is bringing people joy on a daily basis. We initially thought the remodel would take 3-4 months and when we realized the design challenges we were up against it ended up taking us over a year. The biggest remodeling challenges included a floor of all different heights designed originally for a movie theater and a load bearing wall at the entrance that completely shut off the rest of the building that we had to remove. My husband was very patient with me and all of my crazy design ideas especially when I told him I wanted the floors made out of giant recycled electrical spools that he would have to dismantle and then plain by hand in our front yard for 3 months or when I told him I didn’t just want basic sinks in the bathroom, I wanted bathroom sinks made out of vintage Singer Sewing Machines.
It’s hard to believe what can happen in 3 years when you believe!
“Follow your dreams, believe in yourself and don’t give up”
Have a beautiful Sunday -Lauren
We asked all of you to nominate your personal Hero back in February for a chance for them to win a free outfit from THE NINES. With all the amazing emails we received from you, we had a very difficult time picking just one winner this year. After reading the email that Dan’s wife Witney sent in, we decided we would pick two Hero winner’s.
Here’s the email that Dan’s wife sent to us:
I will be honest, initially when I saw your Facebook post I was trying to think of a female hero. But, then I got your email today and it just clicked. My husband is my hero.
My husband Dan stays home with his dad, and our two kids, and cares for them, but that is only part of why he is a hero.
As a senior in High School, Dan’s dad suffered from a Brain Aneurysm that left him disabled. Over the course of the next 10 years, Dan’s mom, Judy, took care of his Dad, selflessly. Dan would drive home on the weekends to help his mom with work around the yard and any other things she needed help with. Then in April of 2012, Judy was diagnosed with Small Cell Lung Cancer. Dan took time off of work and basically moved back to Elbow Lake to take care of his dad and mom. Dan spent every last moment he could with his mom before she passed in December of that year. Dan’s dad, Dave, moved to the cities with us, but we knew that wasn’t going to be the easiest transition for him, our house was not handicap accessible, and it made it hard for Dave to get around.
As a family, we decided to put our energy into moving our family back to Elbow Lake to Dave’s home. In February 2014 we were able to move back to Elbow Lake. Dan stays home with our two kids, Lila (3) & Grayson (8M), and Dave. But, he does so much more then just care for them, he has provided an unique environment for our kids and his dad. His dad is much more comfortable and happy at home and our kids love having Papa Dave be such a big part of their lives.
Although I know Dan ultimately wants to get back to work, he is exceeding my expectations in this role. He is my hero.
We treated Dan to a new pair of Big Star jeans and a Buffalo Plaid button up that he looked great in! My staff and I had so much fun with Dan, Witney and their two adorable kids! Thanks again to everyone who sent in emails! We do many pay it forward giveaways throughout the year so make sure to watch for our posts so you can nominate or re-nominate someone you think is fabulous!
Meet our Hero Winner Amanda! We asked all of you last month to nominate your personal hero or someone that inspires you for a chance for her to win an hour of pampering from my staff and I along with a free outfit from THE NINES. The emails poured in and it was so hard to chose one hero after reading so many incredible stories.
Amanda is one fabulous lady but before I tell you about her, another part of this story that we fell in love with was that a complete stranger nominated Amanda. The lady that nominated her wants to remain anonymous and this is part of what she said in her nomination email to us “My hope is only for this dear woman to know there are people, she doesn’t even know, pulling for her. My heart aches for this woman I’ve never met. I’m not sure how much sleep Amanda gets, or if she’s been pampered since the birth of Gannon, but this girl could use some love from out of nowhere!
Amanda and her husband Bobby of Park Rapids, MN have an eight year old son named Gannon who is awaiting a heart transplant. For a little insight into this family’s life for the last eight years read this great article from the Park Rapids Paper about Gannon:
Gannon Wilkins is at the top of the list for a heart transplant and until that call comes his family feels blessed the 8-year-old Park Rapids boy is able to spend this time at home, not in a hospital bed. The pump Gannon carries with him at all times, 24 hours a day, administers medication to keep his heart pumping. This medication pump allows Gannon to live at home, go to school and be as active as his body permits. It also allows the Wilkins family some normalcy in an extremely abnormal and scary situation. It’s been a long journey for the family since doctors first discovered something wrong during Amanda’s pregnancy with Gannon. The family has endured countless hospital stays, tests and frightening uncertainty since.
As the family waits for a donor heart for Gannon, Amanda says they try to enjoy every day and not think too much about what may happen with or without a heart transplant. “It feels like a blessing and a miracle he’s even here,” Amanda said. “We’ve always known from day one every day is a blessing with Gannon.” Gannon was born with Long QT Syndrome, a heart rhythm condition that causes fast, chaotic heartbeats. Doctors also suspect he has a rare condition characterized by an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia). Doctors discovered the genetic anomaly during the sixth month of Amanda’s pregnancy with Gannon while the family was living in New Mexico. Her husband Bobby was stationed there with the United States Air Force.
An ultrasound showed the baby’s heart rate measuring over 400 beats a minute. The baby had severe hydrops, a serious fetal condition where the body fills with a layer of fluid causing congestive heart failure. Doctors gave Amanda the antiarrhythmics medication Flecainide to slow the heart rate. Amanda and the baby were monitored throughout the pregnancy and about six weeks before Gannon was born Amanda said the heart rate looked fine. The hydrops was resolved and doctors stopped the medication but the heart condition returned. That’s when the doctors realized this was something Gannon would be born with. He was delivered three weeks early and spent close to a month in the NICU to regulate his medications.
Gannon is at the top of the transplant list for his size and age at Mayo Clinic in Rochester after going into cardiac arrest in July. He doesn’t like to talk about all the medical procedures he’s been through and shies away from conversation about his heart. Gannon’s heart functions at 15-20 percent. The medications now administered through his PICC line help his heart pump efficiently. Gannon continues with routine trips to Mayo for tests and consultations. Amanda said the doctors have been amazing through the entire journey from New Mexico to Denver and now Minnesota. “They keep him healthy and not panic us. We have the absolutely top doctors in the country,” Amanda said. “They all know Gannon by first name.” When Gannon was 3 ½ years old doctors in Denver, Colorado wanted to try a cardiac ablation, which is a medical procedure that attempts to fix the troublesome area in the heart that is causing the heart to beat too fast. But Gannon’s heart wasn’t big enough for surgery. Medications to regulate his heart rate continued until he was 5 when doctors discovered new arrhythmias in Gannon’s heart. Doctors then had to wean Gannon off meds to now do the ablation. Once back on the meds doctors discovered they no longer worked. Doctors then had to look for another medication combination.
“While in the room with the doctor Gannon got a scared look on his face, his heart rate sped up and he went into ventricular tachydardia,” Amanda recalled. “They called a code blue and had the crash cart come in and were standing over Gannon waiting to shock him.” The IV meds worked to settle his heart rate down.
Bobby requested a transfer from New Mexico and the family moved to Aurora, Colorado for continued care at a children’s hospital. In 2012 doctors decided to place an Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD) to regulate the arrythmias. “We got home and everything was going okay,” Amanda said of Gannon, who then was one month shy of his fifth birthday. “Dad and I were downstairs, Gannon was upstairs playing and we heard a blood curdling scream.” Gannon was crying at the top of the stairs. “My husband scooped him up and asked Gannon what was wrong when his whole body jumped and brought my husband to his knees.” Gannon’s ICD was discharging and they called an ambulance. “The ICD discharged 14 times in an hour,” Amanda said. “It did its job but the heart wasn’t cooperating with the defibrillator.”
Doctors in Denver consulted with experts at Mayo Clinic to discuss his case. Bobby retired from the Air Force after a 23-year career and the family moved to Park Rapids in November of last year to be closer to Mayo for Gannon’s continued care. Amanda grew up in Park Rapids and living here provides additional support from family and friends. Amanda said the ICD hasn’t discharged since 2012.
The meds continued to work up to about December of last year when doctors noticed Gannon’s heart function had decreased from 60 percent to 46 percent. They continued with further medical evaluations. While waiting to return to Mayo to see Gannon’s electrophysiologist his heart function dropped to 25 percent. Doctors tried new medications to figure out a solution. Weaning Gannon off one med and trying a different one was hard on his heart and in July of this year he went into cardiac arrest at the hospital. Doctors performed CPR and administered emergency medications to get his heart beating normally. An echocardiogram showed his heart function had dropped to 10 percent. At this point the decrease in the heart’s ability to pump moved Gannon the heart transplant list.
The Wilkins family waits as Gannon goes about his life as an 8-year-old boy. He’s a 3rd-grader at Century Elementary. He’s active with limitations, a funny kid who enjoys playing Lego’s, soccer and carpet hockey with older brother Kiergon. He also likes to make crafts and create artwork with his grandmother. Daily activity wears Gannon out but Amanda says it’s worth having her son home with the family and attending school in Park Rapids. “When he gets home from school he’s exhausted. It definitely takes everything out of him,” Amanda said. “We have no worries or reservations about sending him to school. We know they take excellent care of him.” He’s able to attend school because the medication pump he carries gives his heart the ability to function the best it can until the transplant.
“Transplant is the next step. This has to get done,” Amanda said. “I’ve got my phone and it could be any time we get the call.” She tries not to look too far ahead though, instead enjoying the daily routine with Gannon. “The anticipation was very high when he first came home in July. Now, physically and emotionally it can get exhausting,” Amanda said. “We’re in our routine at home. You just can’t think about it, you’d drive yourself crazy. It’s nice to be home. The calmness we have here is greatly appreciated.”
“There’s no way of really preparing for anything,” Bobby added. “We go day by day and see how things pan out.”
The transplant team is in place and ready when the donor heart becomes available. Once the call comes Gannon will fly to Mayo for the transplant surgery. The surgery is expected to take 4-6 hours with inpatient recovery about two weeks. Once discharged, Gannon will have to stay in Rochester for three months. By Kevin Cederstromat 11:42 a.m.
My staff and I here at THE NINES were honored to meet Amanda this morning and give her an hour of fun and a new outfit that she so deserved!
If anyone is in the neighborhood there is going to be a benefit in Park Rapids this Saturday for Gannon from 4-7 at the American Legion. You can also follow Gannon’s Heart Journey on Facebook where Amanda posts updates about Gannon.