We should have ONE day without shopping

Good old New England, it’s illegal for many store to open Thanksgiving Day in 3 of our states! People have three other days to shop, we don’t need Thursday. For the chains that open elsewhere on T-day, I’m boycotting them for the rest of the year.

Open in Morning: Best Buy, Kmart, Lord & Taylor
Not open til evening: Walmart, Target, Macy’s, Toys “R” Us, JC Penny, Kohls, Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Sears, Office Depot, Office Max, Michaels

Pier One, Nordstorm’s, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Sam’s Club, Burlington Coat Factory, Costco, Ross Stores, Lowe’s, Von Maur and Cabela’s, Barnes & Noble, Home Depot, Radio Shack



Holiday Cookie Weekend

My favorite holiday tradition is cookie weekend.  I used to spend Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday with my aunt and younger cousin makings a variety of cookies.  We would make 6 or 7 different kids of cookies, bars, candy, and brownies, over 100 dozen in all.  My aunt would give them away as holiday gifts to close friends.  And they were a treasured gift because it’s not easy or inexpensive to make such a mass of treats.

Rolling out and Cutting the Gingerbread cookies

I  make frosted Gingerbread cutout cookies every year because they are my favorite.   Most of the ingredients I do not enjoy individually (molasses, vinegar, ginger), but mix them all together and bake it up, yum yum.  I decorate these cookies with a cream cheese frosting.  They freeze very well to enjoy throughout the season.

Both cookies baked and ready for Frosting

This year I also made wreath and tree sugar cookies with mint frosting and cinnamon candy decorations.  I have not yet made this one myself, because it took a while for me to find an appropriate cookie cutter for the wreath shaped.   I love the multiple sized fluted biscuit cutters for this.

Then invite a few friends over to decorate, serve some hot chocolate, and sing along to holiday music.

I love the way they decorated the Snowmen and the Star of David.  And tomorrow I’ll take them into the office to share.

Frosting Art Therapy

Holiday Shopping or any other kind of Shopping

I am not a shopper and I agonize about finding gifts for other people.  And for those of us following the Occupy Wall Street movement, or general discussion on the US economy, we are looking for ways to be more responsible in our purchases.

I read one post where the author said she would be using cash during this shopping season.  By avoiding the use of credit cards, this will reduce the profit for the big banks instead increasing the profits of the vendors where she shops.  Shopping at local vendors will support the people in your community.  www.yelp.com is great for finding specialty stores and restaurants.

If you value buying hand made items from individuals check out www.Etsy.com.  You will find so many quality made items and you can search based on your location to support artists in your own community.

We have a 10,000 Villages store in my neighborhood, but you can also buy Fair Trade products made world wide on their website.

Other global impact ideas are listed on this blog post 11 Holiday Gift Programs that Benefit Non-Profits

When Buying Fair Trade, check for the appropriate logo that shows the product conforms to the regulations.  Not all logos and labels represent a quality control program.  Terms like Natural, Environmentally Friendly, and Green are not regulated and companies use these terms to suggest responsible practices without having to verify those practices to anyone.  The system for identifying and regulating socially responsible practices is not yet perfect, but by checking for legitimate logos you will help develop improved practices.

Finding socially responsible companies can be challenging.  Here is a list of 10 by Fortune Magazine.  More Fair Trade Clothing ideas.

Weight Gain around the Holidays is a Natural Cycle

Courtesy of MinniePauz.com

In the last few years I have repeated a cycle of weight gain at the holidays and weight loss the few months following.  I really enjoy food and there are so many holiday treats that I wait all year to make.  Thanksgiving dinner alone is my favorite meal, and now thanks to a group of friends who celebrate “Practice Thanksgiving” the weekend before, I get to enjoy it twice a year.  So with all the bread, potatoes, cookies, etc. I tend to get a little chubby by the end of the year.  Luckily this weight gain is followed by some weight loss in January and February.  For some reason this is the easiest time for me to lose weight.  Maybe it’s the cold temperatures and I burn more calories creating heat.  Or maybe I don’t have as much activity (social and physical) and so it’s easier to resist food.  By the time spring comes around and I increase my exercise, I don’t really lose more weight.

A friend of mine who is a biologist recently described to me the natural cycle of the human body is to put on weight in the fall, when fruits and produce is harvested, and then lose weight in the winter months when food production is more scarce.  This has likely been developed throughout centuries of evolution.  The natural cycle of weight gain likely is a root cause to having so many traditions in the fall associated with food.

So I can embrace this cycle and enjoy my favorite food traditions, as long as I keep a balance with healthy habits following the holidays.