Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Take the Pledge: Shop Small

After a day filled with family, friends, football, and shameless carbo-loading we all tend toward the tradition that is Black Friday. I have gone out late with friends in the past few years to get a few small gifts and experience (for some reason) the rush of super early morning shopping. However, I have to say that I don't get the excitement. 

One day that has gotten me excited in recent years is Small Business Saturday. I am a massive fangirl of my hometown of Carlisle, PA and love to walk the streets and slip into the Revolution/Civil War-era buildings that boast some of the cutest businesses around. There are several stores that I practically live at when I venture downtown:
  • Miss Ruth's Time Bomb: Every time I step through the doors of Miss Ruth's I make a beeline to the back end of the store which boasts a large assortment of vintage clothing—I've seen some straight up 1930s garb! I have never gone in and not tried anything on before I've left. You can also get your fix of vintage hats, shoes, and dining wares!
  • The Clothes Vine: This is where I go to dream. It is a bit pricier than the Time Bomb, but the clothing is just so beautiful and you can tell that they've curated some quality product. The style here is very eclectic, which I love. 
  • Marjorie's Gems: I only just recently discovered this wonderful little store on one of the last First Friday outings of the summer. I don't typically shop jewelry, mostly because I don't wear it very often. But Marjorie's carries some of the most interesting pieces I have come across—and they're so well priced! Their $5 wall is a place I like to call home.
Small businesses really are our economy's backbone. Did you know that they make up about 54% of all sales in the U.S.? Yes, we love our super stores and larger chains for the ease and convenience they provided, but can we truly speak to the quality of some of these items. I always struggle with clothing from larger stores because you can tell from just the touch: this is not going to last. Small business provide care and quality. Sometimes the price tag might read higher, but you get what you pay for after all. Each of the businesses I've detailed in this post and even more that I haven't truly care about the products and services they provide their customers. Every time I walk into the Castlerigg Wine Shop on Carlisle's main street, the owner engages me instantly and ensures that I know where the wines come from (shoutout to the wineries we apparently have in Pennsylvania) and what is particularly popular. 

These businesses are important in our economy, yes, but also in our culture. They know us. They connect with us in ways that larger brands cannot achieve.

Fundera, a company aimed at helping small businesses on the financial end, is campaigning this year to bring out even more customers. This is certainly a movement that hits close to home and one that I can get behind. I pledge to continue to support local business and shop small on November 26. Will you?

<3 Ashley

So what do you say? Shop small with me this weekend? What local businesses do you love?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Prep

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Get ready, folks. Thanksgiving is upon us and it is time to check that grocery list and check it twice to ensure that you have everything you need—no one wants to spend the last minute in the grocery store. We are hosting the meal this year and I am taking charge of the turkey, stuffing, and the best pumpkin pie (ever). I am the kind of person who likes to have her ducks all in a row ahead of time so as to lessen the chance of something going wrong. I mean something can always go wrong...I just like to make it less likely. :)

Here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes and hosting tips to help take some of the stress off of you on Turkey Day:

  • The Best Way to A Roast Bird: There's a lot of debate about turkey prep and I know I won't be following this to a T. However, there are a lot of great tips in this post and the author wrote with such confidence that I can't help but put a lot of trust in it.
  • Hosting Checklist: The Food Network has provided a handy little graphic detailing how far ahead you should start your meal prep—from defrosting the turkey to cheating and making side dishes a day in advanced.
  • Cranberry Sauced-Up: I know a lot of people aren't the biggest fans of cranberry sauce. I don't understand these people, but I acknowledge they exist. Perhaps in lieu of the sauce, go a different route and serve up some pre-dinner cranberry cocktails, like these Cranberry Moscow Mules! Or if you want to be friendly to all ages, try this slow cooker cranberry apple cider.
  • Additionally, after watching a few episodes of Rachel Ray leading up to the holiday, I understand that she suggests going into the kitchen armed with a glass of wine. Depending on what your Thanksgiving Day schedule is this may be of some use to you. We are eating early and I'm not sure how much grandma will approve of me uncorking a bottle at 10 a.m.
I hope that you find success in your holiday hosting duties. Be sure to reward yourself for the good work by hitting up the stores for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Maybe even take part in Cyber Monday? 

<3 Ashley

What are your best Thanksgiving tips and recipes?