First Snowfall and an Impactful Gift Guide

We got our first snowfall yesterday!

Maine didn’t mess around. There was no warm-up round. She went full-out right out of the gate and dropped a couple inches! It was interesting to drive into town for Zumba though. While it was a winter wonderland at home, closer to town, there was merely a light coating of snow on the ground.

Yesterday brought another first to Maine country living for me. We’ve been having issues with mice in the kitchen, so various traps are put out each night. The population has been reduced by a few, but there seemed to be an especially large and/or smart mouse because it escaped a glue trap and managed to remove the bait and the little flat piece holding the bait from a spring trap without triggering it. Well, yesterday morning, I found out it was not a mouse, it was a vole! One of my dogs caught it after chasing it into a space under the stairs (I didn’t even think my dog could fit in there). Here comes the first for me – it was still alive, sort of, and I couldn’t just leave it while we went out for a walk because it could end up crawling back into the wall and die there. So I had to put it out of its misery. I’ll spare you the details.

After earning that country living badge, I brushed/scraped the snow and ice off my car and headed to Zumba. First time I’ve gone from snow boots to dance shoes! Tomorrow it will be snow boots to ballet slippers as I return for my ballet class. I’m glad to have these classes to keep me moving through the winter because when the temperatures drop and the landscape is glistening white, my natural tendency is to hibernate under a pile of cozy blankets.

So while all of the emails in my inbox encouraged me to shop til I dropped, I was taking care of my house, taking care of my body, and enjoying the first snow of winter with my boys.

I’ve never been really into the whole Black Friday through Cyber Monday shopping spree thing. I never got up at 3am to be the first in line for the sale on that hot item. It was never worth having to deal with the crowds. No thank you, this introvert will stay home for the online deals!

I’ve spent the last couple years attempting to spend my money in ways that were more sustainable and more impactful. My diet has become more plant-based. I’ve switched to solid shampoo bars and dish soap to reduce my plastic use. I’m buying clothes and shoes that are vegan, organic and/or closed-loop.

My strategy for doing this can be boiled down to three main points: shop small, shop local, shop impactful.

Just a couple months before the pandemic started to impact Orange County, I signed up with an ugly produce company called Imperfect Foods. They worked with farmers, ranchers and other food producers to buy their excess product or product that was rejected by grocery stores or restaurants. Then it was sold to people like me who didn’t mind oddly shaped carrots. It was a way for me to contribute to the efforts to reduce waste in the food supply chain. It was also a huge blessing when the pandemic hit because my groceries were already being delivered to my door!

I was disappointed to learn that Imperfect Foods didn’t serve my area in Maine, but I recently discovered a food growers’ alliance that connects local farms to consumers. I get to do the same thing I did with Imperfect Foods – pick and choose what goes in my grocery box each week – and it’s all locally grown.

During the pandemic, I discovered the amusingly named Who Gives a Crap company, which sells sustainable toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues. They donate 50% of their profits to sanitation projects around the world. One more area of shopping where I can contribute to a greater cause. Two Blind Brothers, from whom I bought a stylish pair of sunglasses before my trip across country, donates ALL of their profits to research to cure blindness.

The Earthling Co. and Blueland have been my go-tos for eco-friendly bathroom, kitchen and cleaning products. For Days is my new favorite clothing company, closed-loop and creating quality basics that are perfect for layering on cold winter days. All of these are small businesses with sustainable goals.

Do I still shop at big box stores? Yes. I regularly order from Target, and I was just at Lowes yesterday, buying more mouse traps. I still hit the chain grocery store when I need or want something I can’t get with my farm share. As much as I don’t want to make one of the richest men in the world richer, I still order from Amazon occasionally. I’m sure to do it via Amazon Smile though, so I can also support my favorite non-profit, Rx Ballroom Dance!

These personal efforts to change how I’m spending my money led to my decision to not host a Black Friday weekend special for the Practice Ballroom Dance shop. I like sales, so I still wanted to have one! But I wanted it to be without the intense pressure and frantic energy that is a feature at this time every year. That’s why I went with an ongoing sale through the end of the year. That’s why if you’re subscribed to my email list, you got no email from me this weekend. It’s a poor marketing strategy. Every entrepreneur/business owner knows that scarcity is a great way to drum up sales. You don’t want to give your customers time to mull because then they have time to talk themselves out of making a purchase.

Well, dancers, I say mull away! Be thoughtful and intentional in your purchases this holiday season. Take the time to discover those small businesses trying to make a difference in the world, the local producers, and the unknown artists. Buy what you or others will truly want and love for years to come, rather than the latest trendy item that will end up forgotten in a drawer or get tossed in a couple months.

For those dance gifts, of course I’d love for you to check out the Practice Ballroom Dance shop! I’m always available to answer any questions about any of the books or journals. While they may not change the world, plenty of dancers have told me that the books changed their lives and dance journeys.

I’d also invite you to check out my dance shop partner, Dance Dress Couture, for your dancewear desires. If you happen to be cross-training in ballet and need/want new slippers, I bought mine from Cynthia King Dance. Check out my Instagram post for other brands I’ve personally supported. If you’re curious to know more about my experience with any of them, feel free to send me a note!

Ok, it’s time to go romp in the snow again with the dogs! I hope you get to dance this week!


P.S. – Absolutely none of the brands I’ve mentioned in this post have compensated me in any way, although I do perform part-time work for Rx Ballroom Dance.

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