Local & Small Faves

This is it! The Christmas I’ve been waiting for. This is the year when internet shopping has become so easy that it is now a thousand times easier to support small and local businesses and find uber cool gifts from the comfort of your desk (couch, bed, coffee shop).

As I’ve gone to fairs and events this past year I’ve noticed that even the smallest vendors now accept credit cards and almost all have a web site.   The big box stores and malls are worried and they should be. Millions of people are selling unique, local, personal items that I want to give my friends and family. I love supporting small and local businesses just as much as I love finding the best stuff.

So I want to share a few of my favorites with you and I hope you will join in and share some of yours. The one thing local and small businesses don’t have is advertising budgets. Let’s help each other out and give up the goods on where you’ve found some really great gift ideas.

Makeda’s Butter Cookies – I personally met Makeda at a street fair where she told me her cookies were butta-licious. Damn, she was right! They are the essence of butta-love. She’s a local girl from here in Memphis but you can order her cookies from her website (click here for the link). Not only are these great to send as a gift, but you can order some for your own holiday party. And if you’re like me you’ll need to order some for yourself, you know, that bag you hide from the kids.

Bow and DrapeBow & Drape – These are super-clever, chic, glitzy sweatshirts (and other gifts) that you can customize or order from their suggestions. They are made NYC and beat the goofy sayings on the mall shirts by a mile. (Link here)


Speaking of custom–Etsy. If you haven’t found this wonderland of cool gifts yet, set aside a few hours (or days) to get lost in all the perfect, often handmade, items. The really beautiful thing here is that it’s all searchable. If you specifically want a rainbow tutu you can search it and will find so many great options. It’s all small businesses looking big by banding together.

Amazon — I know they are the biggest of the big, but they are also the au laitmarket place for many small businesses (like authors…) The trick is finding the small guys on this mega site. If you find one, please share! Years ago my parents brought me some incredible lotion from Scotland that I thought I would never be able to find again. I can now order through Amazon. If you don’t like strong scented bath products I can’t recommend the Au Lait Scottish Fine Soap Company enough. Here’s a link.

Finally, don’t forget your local coffee shop for gift cards. These are great for people you know live in the same area; teachers, friends, etc. I broke myself of the drive-thru-Starbucks habit when I found my local shop, Pinks. The owner is super supportive of me as a local author, her food and coffee is delish and I always end up finding out all the news that would be in our local paper (if we still had one.)

So spill–tell the world about your favorite small and local business that have the coolest or yummiest stuff that can be ordered online. Clue us in to your best secrets in the comments below.



TFS Wednesday: Thanksgiving

The good news about Thanksgiving in diet terms is that it is only one day.  Even if you go hog wild and consume everything you can get your hands on, you are unlikely to send your weight loss efforts back more than a few pounds. 

The first great Thanksgiving advice I always remember, don’t make “diet” food.  No matter what the magazines say, no one will be excited when you switch out the traditional creamed potatoes for some creamed cauliflower.  This is one day when traditional is better, especially if you are cooking for a large group.  (Creamed cauliflower will only guarantee tons of leftovers).  Most traditional Thanksgiving foods really aren’t super high in calories/points.  White meat turkey is an easy choice, as are sweet potatoes and there is almost always at least one plain vegetable, like carrots or green beans.  As for the heavier traditional foods, if this is your one time a year to have them, by all means, do.  Just go with a smaller amount.  1/4 cup of creamed potatoes, green bean casserole or anything will not kill you (it might even make you happy).  

My second tip is to keep your diet to yourself.  The more people who you tell that you are dieting, the more people who will be in your plate.  When you announce that you are on Weight Watchers, or any plan, it invites others to comment on everything you are eating.  Nothing sucks the fun out of your once-a-year piece of pie than having 5 or 6 people ask you if you should be eating that.  If you’ve lost a lot of weight since the last time your family saw you, it might be obvious, but in general, the more low key you are about your diet, the more you can enjoy your food.  

Finally, exercise.  This has so many uses on Thanksgiving day.  First, if you go for a walk after eating, you will offset that over-stuffed, ill feeling and wave of sleepy.  Second, it gets you out of the house.  It’s a chance to clear you head or bring your favorite relative along for a walk to catch up on the juicy family gossip.  Mall walking counts, but know that you will be stopping every 5 to 10 feet due to crowds.  I’m signed up for the 5 mile Turkey Trot with a few other family members. 

My final advice — and this goes for all holidays– wear tight, uncomfortable clothes.  This is not the day for the stretchy pants and over sized sweater.  Nothing inspires you to keep your portions small like a pair of unforgiving jeans and a muffin-top revealing top.  It’s a good reminder where all those extra calories will end up.