Keep it Local, it’s my mantra.
Shop local, eat local, drink local, celebrate local. This past weekend, today and, I’m sure tomorrow too have felt like a rush of Hallmark Holidays, all designed to help us shop. My words of advice, as you let your fingers do the walking this Cyber Monday is to Keep It Local.
In this post – a short list of eight ideas for local product and local experiences that everyone on your list can use now and enjoy on into the new year. Keep reading and following the blog for other great local gift ideas in future posts now till the end of the year, but for today…
Order Online, keep it local for this season’s home delivery
During the past nine months, we’ve become accustomed to the phrase “Order Online for Home Delivery.” After all its safe and contactless; and it is truthfully an easy way to shop. The outbreak of the COVID pandemic and the necessary restrictions that followed, lead to forceful pivots for every local restaurant, shop and business. With those pivots came a ton of new online shopping opportunities. You can now place your farmers market orders online for easy Saturday morning or on the farm pick up. You can order meals from a slew of great local restaurants with home delivery or curbside pickup. And, you can order lots of local product and grocery items as well.
Not everything has to come via Amazon.
Keep it Local and #TellThemHeidiSentYou
I encourage you to go directly to the source. Keep it local this holiday season as you order from North Carolina-based merchants, restaurants, farmers and venues. Not just today – but throughout the season and on into the year ahead. Honestly holiday shopping was never easier.
All of the local businesses in our community need our help and our support. And that means they need more that a “like” or a “comment” on social media. It means we all need to walk the walk and spend our shopping dollars locally. Start now. Go Online today. Do your favorite local restaurants a solid. Buy gift certificates from each one for stocking stuffers or gifts for your neighbors, friends or your children’s teachers.
Now, let’s let the online shopping begin. And, because it’s a lot of what I do, let’s start with gifts for the gourmet or gourmand.
Keep it Local with Tidewater Grain Company Company in Oriental, NC
Tidewater Grain Co. is a relatively new North Carolina farm in Oriental, NC. I met and quickly became friends with farmers and company co-owners Tommy Wheeler and Al Spruill and the Tidewater crew; and toured the farm as the rice was growing at it’s highest earlier this year.
Take note. This is the first time Carolina Gold Rice has grown in this quantity in North Carolina in 127 years. It’s really an historical moment. And these guys are doing it right. Heirloom grain that is GMO free. The 2020 harvest is actually the farm’s second harvest; but it’s the first time they’ve really reached out and started marketing to the public.
I love the trio of products from Tidewater Grain Co. Order their classic white rice, brown rice and middlins, also known as Rice Grits. Available in small stocking stuffer sized 1 or 2 cup portions; or in larger 2 lb. cloth bags; this is a delicious gift for any friend who likes to cook and those who like to eat! Place your online orders here.
Vegetable Kingdom’s Halfway 2 Homemade soups and sauces from Asheville, NC
I’ve written and posted about Vegetable Kingdom’s line of Halfway 2 Homemade soups, sauces and condiments many times before. They are each made from scratch by company co-owners Ann Gassenheimer and her husband, Pat Gallagher. I love what they do.
Each variety is a delicious soup all on its own; or use them as a great way to shortcut any sort of meal prep. Use the Sweet Potato Bisque as a base for all sorts of your homemade soups. You’ll find it also works wonderfully in any recipe calling for canned pumpkin. The Mushroom Medley is a great start to easy mushroom gravy. The gumbo or etouffee? Both a perfect starting place to add your own proteins and local rice (see above), for a great one dish meal.
I also adore their Hot & Smoky ketchup and the Vegetable Kingdom award winning, you’ll-want-it-on-everything, green tomato chow chow. You (and everyone on your list) will too! Order online here. Be sure to take advantage of their special six-pack soup offers – a great way to try a variety of flavors.
Olive Crate Ultra Premium Olive Oils, Organic Balsamic Vinegars and more from Charlotte, NC
Of course, the olives and grapes for this olive oil and these vinegars don’t grow locally in Charlotte. They raw products are grown and pressed in Greece at Owner Dimitri Koustourus’ boyhood home. His mother still lives on the property and, as the couple and their family live in the Charlotte area, his wife Kathleen runs the company based in Waxhaw, NC.
If you have ever watched me cook in person or online, you know. I cook with these products all the time and love them all. The herbs and delicious, mountain grown in Greece and beautifully packaged. The bottles are slim, so they could possibly slip into a stocking with no problem at all; but while you are online, take a look at the gift packages Kathleen is offering – they are fabulous! And for the holiday season you can enjoy FREE shipping on any order. Start your online shopping here.
Burwell Farms Truffles in Warrenton, NC
I had the pleasure to visit Burwell Farms as part of the celebration of the local harvest early in March of this year. The crop: the White Bianchetto truffle, is grown at the feet of a forest of North Carolina Pines. Its an incredible thing, really; and these truffles and this farm are another local product I can’t wait to write more about.
The 2021 crop isn’t due till March of next year, but you can buy delicious frozen 2020 truffles for yourself or gift giving now. On Nov 30 and 31, the truffles are 25% off online. So jump on it!
Or, if you’d like to gift the gift of a possible DYI experience, Burwell is also selling innoculated pine seedlings. Gift certificates for next year’s fresh truffles are also available for sale online. Check it all out and order online here. Then, stay tuned for more from me in a blog post coming up soon!
Keep it Local with real deal Country Ham from Phillips Brothers Country Ham in Asheboro, NC
Life is always a fun adventure for me and when Tom and I travel across the state, I am always on the lookout for great local products to share with all of you.
In a recent trip to Asheboro, NC in mid November I had the good fortune to meet Phillip Craven of Phillips Brothers Country Ham. There is so much to share here I’ll save the whole story for a later post. For now, know this is a company that has been curing North Carolina Sugar and Salt cured country ham since 1947!
I am here to tell you it is truly excellent country ham ( and the bacon and sausage are delicious, too!) Your ham biscuits are never gonna be the same. Phillip continues to do his grandfather who started the company proud and continues to do it right.
Lots of local to buy at Phillips Brothers Country Ham. You can shop online here. The store in Asheboro, NC has great gift boxes of ham and other local product, too. Not all of the gift boxes are up in the online shop yet, but they will be soon. To make ordering easier and just call and ask. The number of the shop is (336) 625-4321 and you can follow them on Facebook, too.
Make your own gift baskets with a little local from several sources
For Thanksgiving I packed up holiday meals for our extended family in the area, in a big basket filled with everything i would have ordinarily put on our table. The burlap lined and be-ribboned baskets included flowers from The Blossom Shop in Charlotte, handmade beeswax candles from my friends at Dancing Bees in Monroe, NC; and of course, all the foodstuffs.
You could easily do the same with a taste of all of your favorite locally made foods.
Why not include, gift certificate for a manicure from my friends at Matrix Nails on East Blvd, in Charlotte, NC. Tom and I have both gone here for years and love this family!
And while you are at it, add in a bottle or six pack of your favorite, locally crafted, NC wine, beer, seltzer, gingerail, shrub or liquor. So many delicious choices, its going to be hard to decide, but easy to keep it local. Stay tuned for my annual what and how to Drink Local post coming soon this December.
Give the gift of an experience and remember to Keep it Local
Think of all the things you love to do but haven’t been able to since COVID restrictions set in. Go to that place or person, and buy a gift certificate so that those on your list can have something to experience and enjoy in 2021. This is a great way to support local hair dressers and nail salons as well as local museums, art galleries; and as I mentioned earlier, local restaurants.
Treat a Friend to a Membership at the NC Zoo
Top of mind, as I was just there a week before Thanksgiving, is a family membership to the NC Zoo. The North Carolina Zoo is really a treasure in our state and if you haven’t been yet, you need to go soon.
They are doing a wonderful job of keeping everyone safe and socially distanced with buy-in-advance timed ticket entry. The NC Zoo is the largest natural habitat zoo in the world! I can’t think of one single reason we shouldn’t all take advantage of the fact that it is located right in our back yard.
A family membership at the NC Zoo is less that $100 a year, but there are all levels of membership that you’ll want to explore. Any level of membership helps The NC Zoo keep up with important work and research to keep animals safe and endangered species, secure. Order your own membership, and one or two as gifts, online here.
Nature’s Spa & Wellness in Charlotte, NC
This next experience is from my friends at Natures Spa in Charlotte. The spa offers gift certificates for all sorts of experiences, so you can buy gift certificates at any level for friends who would enjoy the respite. Or you can buy into this special offer – a great way to combine your online efforts for Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.
Get A Message, Give A Massage to Help Others Heal
This is a brilliant idea. Take time to relax and reflect on all the blessings in your life with this great Hour of Gratitude gift! Wrap yourself in the warmth of Nature’s Spa’s heated memory foam tables and crisp clean linens; while your muscles are massaged and kneaded under the skilled hands of their natural healers. Or, enjoy a soothing, rejuvenating facial designed to nourish and transform your skin.
Get this: Each Hour of Gratitude Session you purchase, donates one massage or facial to local non-profit organization that is helping woman and children who are struggling with poverty, oppression, abuse and shame. These Gratitude Sessions are designed as a package, to help each of us give the gift of self-care to someone we don’t even know. Someone who desperately needs to feel worthy of the simple pleasures of life, such as safe touch and an hour of peace. I’m not sure I can think of a better way to celebrate the spirit of holidays this year.
The cost for this experience which doubles the giving is only $150. For many of us, giving ourselves a gift of self care is a luxury; but when you decide to treat yourself, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t choose to do this package every time. Order online or book your appointment here.
Give the gift of a healthier local environment
In my last post, on shopping, cooking & eating local at the SouthEnd Farmers’ Market, I mentioned my new best friends at CrownTown Compost. I love knowing that my food scrapes aren’t just going into a Charlotte landfill. And the process is so incredible easy.
I think a gift certificate for CrownTown’s services for a year or some portion thereof, for someone you know who isn’t already composting – or even someone who is – would be a great gift. You can order online or get more info here. It’s a gift that gives back to our community and our environment!