Tag Archives: shopsmall

My Favorite Online Stores

Did you know you can buy local and support small businesses while still enjoying the convenience of buying online? Sometimes you have to go with a huge store, but not always!

GlassGirlJen on Etsy – gorgeous pieces. We’re not talking “etched glass” here. She deeply engraves into a wide variety of glassware. This is still one my favorites for wedding gifts, but great for a first Christmas, first Christmas in your own apartment, etc.

Clever hand-crocheted items. I met this woman and her daughter at a local craft fair. She doesn’t work from patterns, she just creates it. And all of her work is beautiful and baby-proof! Message her ASAP to let her know what you want. Her prices are very reasonable!

Amazon – I do have a caveat, however. Amazon lets OTHER companies sell through them now. Unless you have bought from that particular company before don’t chance it for a holiday gift. I ordered a cute Tshirt in an XL. I’m not a fan of the skin-tight T. This one is so small enough for a ten-year-old. So now I’m searching Pinterest for a way to up-size the shirt.  I do ADORE Amazon Prime though, since I do MUCH more last-minute shopping these days. ALSO, it’s one of the best places to find the best new indie-published books you won’t find in bookstore! SO many great authors are going the indie route. Lisa Tapp, Joan Kayse, and Ian Eviston to name just a few!

Target – I love Target because I can order online and select “ship to store” for free. This means that even if everything is already IN my store someone will gather it up for me. I pay online and just pick it up at the service desk. No impulse shopping, no forgetting I went in with a list and a price limit. Which is good, since THIS just happened:

Primary – This is my new addiction. Right now they only make basic clothes in solid colors (MANY colors!) with no labels (school-friendly) for kids. I want an adult line. I wouldn’t wear anything else most days. And it’s very high-quality with reasonable prices. They even have two weights for many of their pieces, so I can buy a hoodies for kiddos in Texas AND Kentucky. Sew on a few jingle bells for Christmas, add make temporary Contac paper or Duck Tape cut-outs for holidays, and one red T shirt can be cleverly current all year!

ThinkGeek – Is there anyone in your family who loves Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Fallout, Game of Thrones, or other things not everyone else is quite as passionate about? I owned a communicator pin and Vulcan ears when the folks at ThinkGeek were in diapers, so I could spend hours browsing this store. This may well end up as a gift this year for one of my Fallout fans.
SteveSpanglerScience – This is a great gift site for adults and kids. Once I bought several items from this shop and left them in the Reading Room – kind of the home base for our docs, where they’d hang their coats, pick up their patient lists, and do computer work. They were a hit! My dad LOVES all these things. He’s an Engineer, and uses a couple of the toys to analyze his new students or faculty while he’s chatting with them.

Newegg.com – I don’t go here without being given a link. It’s computer parts. As in, you take your CPU apart and put things in. My sons tell me they have GREAT deals. If you have a computer nerd on your list send them the link to browse. They’ll be excited!

Nerium – Awesome stuff. My husband uses the same cheap shampoo to wash his hair, face, and body. I swear. I only very recently got him started on a leave-in conditioner, which he LOVES. After thirty-one years I’m finally getting him to take a couple of baby steps towards taking care of himself. He takes EHT (brain booster) daily because his mother died of Alzheimer’s. He uses the Youth Factor powder because I told him he could drink a bottle of this fruit-flavored stuff a day or he could eat a variety of fruits and veggies every day. He chose the powder. I ADORE leafy green veggies, and my memory loss is all pain and medication induced.

So I use the stuff that makes me look good 🙂 Night Cream and Firm are the products that someone would have to pry from my cold, dead hands. This time of year we always have discounted Gift Packs for as long as they last. If I had to guess I’d say 75% of sales are people stocking up on their favorites for cheap and 25% actual gifts. Have you ever bought something intending to gift it. . . then kept it for yourself? *waving hand wildly*

So shop, shop away! But since my sweet, wonderful grandmother went full-out crazy every Christmas (which led to a woman she hired to do her shopping maxing out her credit cards her last Christmas at home and then just saying everything was stolen from the trunk) I’m a calm shopper. I plan ahead, I shop evenly for my children, and Michael and I have never shopped for each other. Not since the year we got engaged.

Some people do three gifts, for the three wise men. My personal favorite (and the one Michael is holding me to even though this is our first year with a granddaughter) is Something they Want, Something they Need, Something to Wear, and Something to Read. Yes, of course both Michael and Mom have asked me exactly HOW I know what Emma wants. Well, I’ve known it since before she was born. They’d just better take pictures in Austin to PROVE it!


I took creative license on this one, but it works.I hope everyone had a geat Thanksgiving!

My Favorite Things (Today)

I could hardly believe it when I checked Mama Kat’s writing prompts this week and found a topic I’d already entered as a title during a sleepless night mind-mapping section. So here are my current favorite things, in no particular order. I have affiliate links with a couple of them, but certainly not all. Take this one, for instance:


Non-slip tape. This is awesome! I bought the two-inch-wide clear tape, and my husband put it on the stairs down from the pantry to the back door. Our chocolate lab is thirteen and, um. . . more full-figured than she should be at her age. So the stairs were becoming a problem. After a few days of getting used to the tape she now hops up and down the steps like a pup! Thankfully, we had some left over. It came in handy when I slipped on our old bathmat and tumbled out of the shower. A wet, naked fifty-year-old woman wrapped like a burrito in a shower curtain is not pretty. Thankfully, my husband was home to unwrap me and help me get dried and into bed, where I stayed for forty-eight hours icing my hip and lower back. Now there’s tape on the bottom of the tub, too.


Tiffany Reisz books. She’s been writing like crazy lately, which makes me incredibly happy. The Red is her latest, and it was simply perfect. It’s a book from within her books – a book her main character in the Original Sinners series wrote. So the whole thing is like an inside joke. Her newest, Michael’s Wings, comes out today! I can’t wait for my local bookstore to order it for me, so I’ll download it on Kindle and order it from Carmichael’s so I’ll have a copy for her to sign 🙂 She’ll be in Kentucky later this month, and I hope to get a chance to see her!


Accupressure Pillow. The points on this thing are serious sharp to the touch, but I’ve slept more than one night with it under my neck or lower back and felt much less stiff than usual in the morning. And yes, they do make them in other colors. But when I have the option I always choose purple. I just noticed these are out of stock now on Zulily, but similar items are available on Amazon as well as most yoga supply shops. If there’s a locally-owned yoga shop near you this would be a great item to buy from a local business. I always #shopsmall when I can!


Kiss imPRESS Nails. I swear I wouldn’t have even looked at this ad except for Christian Siriano. Yes, the youngest winner of Project Runway, the man who made the term “fierce” popular, and my second-favorite Project Runway competitor. My FAVE is Chris March, who was in the finals competing with Christian. He was snubbed because of his use of human hair in his collection on skirts and lapels. Seriously, it was gorgeous, and there wasn’t a celebrity there who didn’t have human hair extensions glued, clipped, or sewn into their scalp. Completely hypocritical. Anyway, the nails don’t require glue, and can be removed easily. In other words, even someone with a tremor like mine can have a nice manicure for about five bucks without apologizing to the nail tech fifty times. I haven’t bought them yet, but it will be happening soon!


Sombra warming pain relief cream. Sorry to add yet another pain-relief item to this list, but you’d be surprised how many people on your Christmas gift list this year can use them. People who are doing hard physical work don’t have the time or energy to search out anything past Advil and a heating pad. It’s the people like me who pushed too hard for too long that have the answers. This is great because it doesn’t go on greasy, it smells like oranges, and it works for HOURS.

Our Little, Late, But Very Thankful Thanksgiving

This year it was just the three of us. Michael and John both had to work, and my leaf mold allergies hit a new all-time high. I couldn’t breathe without panting like a dog (so attractive), couldn’t talk, and could only stand for a few minutes before needing to be horizontal again. Not the recipe for a good Thanksgiving! But I’d done enough prep and planning and Michael’s a fabulous enough cook that it all came out great. Most importantly, we were all relaxed and happy, and spent the meal talking about everything we were thankful for. Here’s the tablescape:

This was our first holiday meal here with my grandmother’s kitchen table. It brought back many happy memories, and I couldn’t bear to cover it with a cloth. I love that it shows its age! As usual I used stuff from the yard for decorations: leaves and ornamental grasses this year, since everything else had been hit by a recent frost or drowned by the day’s rain. But I think it perks up our old carved wooden turkey quite well!

The napkins were something a little special, and I’d enjoy doing it every year if we can. I grabbed three cloth napkins at the Dollar Tree and I had a gold Sharpie paint pen left over from another project, so we each wrote out a few things we were thankful for a few days ago and I tucked them into the grapevine napkin holders and put them at the appropriate places. Wouldn’t it be fun to do a different color napkin each year and once there were enough stitch them into a quilt? With the size Thanksgivings I used to host that would be a quilt a year! This is a corner of mine.


I forgot to take a “pretty plate” picture before we started eating, but Michael’s still looked good about ten minutes into the meal!


The most-loved dish (as always) was . . . the Jell-O salad! Weird, right? But Michael and John both eat it by the bowlful, so even after doubling the recipe we only had about one-third of it left when it was time to eat. I found out later they’d both had big midnight snacks the night before – LOL!


The shunned dish was no surprise, either. It was my new dish for the year: roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes with pecans and cranberries. I loved it, and will be eating my fill of leftovers. The guys distrust colorful vegetables, and I’m pushing them out of their comport zone if I try something more exotic than peas or carrots. So of course the only picture I have of them is in their leftovers container 🙁


Normally we have Thanksgiving around lunchtime, but since we ate so late this year we had a chance to use candles both on the table and in the sconces flanking the doorway between the dining room and the kitchen. They came out of the house Michael grew up in, and are no longer wired for electricity, but are perfect for candles. With my tremor I’ve had to switch over to the two-for-a-dollar battery-operated votive candles. If you don’t look too closely you can’t see the difference, and it keeps me from setting myself and the house on fire.


OK, here was our menu:
One turkey named Matthew (I always name my birds). We baked this year instead of deep-frying, but we did brine. Scrumptious!
Sausage Stuffing (my Aunt Beverly’s recipe – no other can compare)
Jell-O Salad (you know, with cream cheese, mandarin oranges, etc)
Tossed Salad
Yeast Rolls
Turkey Gravy (I didn’t do giblet gravy for Michael this year. I swear I’ll do it for Christmas.)
Dumplings (leaf-shaped, of course!)
Cranberry Sauce
Green Bean Casserole with Chow Mein Noodles (Michael’s idea after I forgot to put french-fried onions on the Kroger list – YUM!)
Brussels Sprout and Sweet Potato Casserole
Apple Pie (Everyone had it for breakfast!)

So we will probably eat leftovers all weekend, which is how I like it!

I’ve done absolutely nothing today (Black Friday) and I’m finally starting to feel a bit better. I don’t know if it’s just the passage of time or the Mucinex Sinus Michael fought crowds to buy me yesterday, but I think I’m better. At least people can now understand me when I talk! I’m looking forward to tomorrow – Small Business Saturday! If there aren’t any stores locally that have what you’re looking for check out Etsy – a few of my go-to gift shops are on there! And don’t forget Instagram. There are shops there that literally make me drool onto my iPad, and their sales ROCK! Also you can see exactly who you are supporting with each purchase. I like that! And, of course, you can buy Nerium products from me and my husband.


I truly can’t tell you how much a little extra income would help us right now, and I’m sure many small business owners are in the same situation. So try out something new: #shopsmall. You’ll be glad you did!

I’m linking up to Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop, trying to get back in the habit. Stop by and visit!


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