Thursday, January 12, 2012

I Think I Get It

"A Fox Books Superstore."
"Quel nightmare."
"It has nothing to do with us. It's big, impersonal, overstocked, and full of ignorant salespeople."
"But they discount."
--dialogue from You've Got Mail.

When I blogged about needing to buy a cow to supply my family's milk drinking needs, I soon discovered a much more practical, and more affordable answer: Walmart.

Uggh. Does anyone really like Walmart? It's the Mother-of-them-all Superstores. The "but they discount" excuse drones into my head every time I step inside. I can get a nice gallon of skim milk for $2.09. Drinking our calcium has never felt so good. Thanks, Walmart.

But that is not the "Vermont Way". I've heard the phrase often, but I would ne'er be so bold to define it. Two years ago, during my first visit to Burlington (VT), a local I met at a chocolate store defined the Vermont Way as "growing your own food, preserving your own jam, and hunting your own venison." From my observations, Vermonters religiously follow the days of yore American motto "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." They are also well known for their passionate boycotts of big box enterprises such as Walmart and Target. You will find thrift stores around here to your heart's content. This same attitude applies to rural New Hampshire. I would dare say that the state's motto "Live Free or Die" speaks volumes about a lifestyle promoting a dependence on self. Here in the Upper Valley, I see a satisfaction and pride behind buying most things local and supporting the family farm just down the road.

And I love it.

What? This city girl transplant is loving it?

Didn't I mention this before?

I fear that I've all too often been one of those shoppers, Fox Books Superstore bags in arm, passing by the window of The Shop Around the Corner, while Kathleen Kelly is hanging up her twinkle lights. For a movie that I've seen hundreds upon hundreds of times, that sad scene tugs at my guilt every time. I wanna leap right into the screen to save Christmas.

So, rescuing The Shop Around the Corner I must! "One, two, three, four! We don't want this Superstore!" While I still frequently enter the previously mentioned evil chain store (the shame!), I'm trying to mend my ways by evaluating how I shop. Some of my favorite products:

Killdeer Farm--my CSA that I support.
Cabot. (The best dairy ever.)
Stoneyfield Farm organic yogurt.
King Arthur Flour.
Vermont Country Store. (It's even Martha Stewart endorsed.)
Garnet Hill (I lied. I haven't made a purchase yet. Everything in their catalog is on my wish list.)
Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
Pure Vermont maple syrup.
Pick Your Own Farms.
Farmers' Markets.
Local diners--for the occasions that we go out to eat.

This past Christmas was the first year that I was able to kick Fox Books and Tom Hanks to the curb. Not perfectly and completely, but a couple of locally made purchases created some New England flavor to our Christmas magic.

These toys will be treasured forever. I dread the day when expensive electronics will take its place. In a few years when a job may take us away from New England forever, I'll be extra glad that we have these as reminder of this time. But, as I've timidly confessed to my mother who lives over 2,000 miles away, I love this place and would stay if I could.

Even if Target and Costco are over an hour's drive.

P.S. As much as I hate to see The Shop Around the Corner going out of business, I support American capitalism.
P.P.S. Kathleen Kelly still had a happy ending. Happy endings come with time though.
P.P.P.S. It may sound like I have a hidden agenda, but I do not.
P.P.P.P.S. Vermont has the best cheese on earth. They need to do a better job at capitalizing on that. I've spent my entire life wasting my cheese experience on less worthy cheese.
P.P.P.P.P.S. I prefer drinking the delicious milk from the local dairies, but quite honestly, I can't spend that kind of money to feed my family. Walmart wins.
P.P.P.P.P.P.S. I really don't have a hidden agenda. This is a family-friendly, politics free, and self-indulgent blog. Pinky swear.

And another thing...wanna take a guess what my favorite movie is? Nora Ephron is kind of a big deal to me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Us and the Ocean

Out of clutter
From discord 
In the middle of difficulty 
Albert Einstein

Nobody ever said raising children was an easy vocation.
It's anything but simple. Or harmonious.
But, it's my opportunity to make a difference in the world.
They are my world.
So I will make a difference for them.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Carpets du jour

The past few days, we've been hiding inside from the single digit bone-chilling weather. I would surmise that the weather lately has felt like a Nor'easter--but without all the snow. In fact, there is not an inch of snow here. We have only a dusting of what looks like powder sugar on our lawn.

So, Christmas this year came just in time to insulate and cheer up our bare floors. I now look forward to early mornings when I can swing my legs out of the bed and touch down onto warm wool with my toes. I'm a little late to join Club Chevron, but it'll be the first and the last time I do. (I plan not to go overboard with the latest trend in home decor.)


As we wait for the fun white stuff to cover our sledding hill behind our home, we try to get clever indoors. Hint: lots of Play Dough. To my advantage, my home has also been much more clean and I seem to be on top of folding laundry. Rock on.

So, here we are in January. Blah. And then on to Feb-Brrrrrr-uary. As New Englanders call it, winters here are 'wicked cold.' I think they're on to something. BUT--one thing I'm not missing this season are the bitter gusts of wind that have made the Midwest winters infamous.

I'm counting my blessings.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hello, New Year

In 2011, I nibbled on too many fresh-outta-the-oven sugar cookies and didn't have enough white grape bubbly to wash it all down.
Eve of 2012

In 2011, I let my eldest child watch too much TV. (Disclaimer: Cut me some slack for my adjustment to mothering two in a brand new city, and for a husband who practically lived at the hospital.) 
2010 January 017A

In 2011, even I watched too much TV. (See disclaimer above.) It's dangerous for a married woman to watch entire seasons of Psych alone. The Boy has admitted how ridiculous it is having to compete with Gus and Shawn. Consider myself charmed.
In 2011, I had my worst airplane experience to date. Then, when I didn't think that air travel couldn't get beyond the conditions of Outer Darkness, on my return flight, I simply made up my mind to never fly Southwest ever, ever, ever again. Not even their free bags fare will win me back.

In 2011, I made a really crappy butt-ugly birthday cake. Instead of admitting my failure at one of my most important duties as a mother, I instead tell myself that no bakery would ever hire my services.

In 2011, in a car with peeling paint that always made me feel safe when I drove through some parts of 'da hood', I drove over a pot hole that further improved its appearance.

In 2011, one of Boy's wildest dreams came true: we drove our Xterra on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500.

In 2011, I started thinking about my only daughter's future. As hard as it is to put off my maternal wishes, I vow not to make her into a child bride.

In 2011, I couldn't have survived my year in Indiana without two very important ladies. They are missed.

In 2011,
  • I got my husband back---sort of. Although he still works some long hours, I can now easily remember what his face looks like.
  • We left our beloved Midwest and fell in love with New England.
  • Irene brought us a flood.
  • I was awarded my first speeding ticket in 6 years.
  • I felt like my backyard, on occasion, transformed into a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds
  • I witnessed the magic of Autumn as I had never seen before.   
  • I got pregnant. Then I got unpregnant. And it's okay.
  • I became a fan of Adele's raspy voice like everyone else.
  • I became a full supporter of real maple syrup.
  • I started to recognize that life without Target and Costco at my fingertips isn't the end of the world...but having Target around might prevent those Walmart trips from happening.
  • my world ended up getting a little smaller and a lot simpler.

And, in 2011, I was already 'in style' for 2012 without even trying. I knew that bangs were a good decision.

[the washington post 'in/out list]

I am an optimist and I'm getting the hint that 2012 and I are already on the right page. Making zero New Years' resolutions may be a part of that plan.