As we head full steam into the holiday season here are some suggestions: Shop Locally
We just survived the some of the busiest shopping days of the year; those two days after Thanksgiving. Now that the first frenzy of shopping is past, how about taking a look at your list and thinking of what you can buy thats made locally and/or available from local shops? The selection is terrific and more interesting than what can be found in every mall in every city in the country. And youll be supporting your neighbors and local businesses as well. Let your local shopkeeper know youre interested in local products to encourage them to stock more. The range is vast, from local honey and maple syrup to jams and jellies to locally made candles and crafts. Check out the Adirondack Harvest Web site at www.adirondackharvest.com for a searchable list of products available around the Adirondacks. We are fortunate to have so many talented neighbors who produce gorgeous crafts and art objects for giving to friends or as warm personal gestures to yourself! Many local artisans have open houses this time of year, check local listings and bulletin boards for news of these events. Your local Arts Council may have listings as well. Eggs, chicken, cheese, bread and freezer quantities of farm raised meats are available locally, too. The Adirondack Harvest Web site will help you find local producers and some of the small markets and shops carry local products. You can arrange with farmers to buy lamb, pork or sides of beef, that are cut and wrapped, ready for your freezer. Visit the roadside stands that offer apples, wreaths, baked goods and other goodies made right there or nearby. Save Energy
Nothing cheers me up more on a dark, dreary day than some lights. The short days this time of year are a lot easier for me to take if I have enough light and there are two ways you can have some light and still save on your energy bill. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) have come a long way in the last ten years. They use 75% less energy than regular incandescent lightbulbs and last ten years or more. The quality of the light they give is much more natural now and they come in all different shapes and sizes. They have CFLs for the artificial candles that are so pretty in windows this time of year. When you add up all the windows in your house and the long, dark evenings this time of year you can save considerably by switching to CFLs wherever possible. They may 3-way CFLs now and even dimmable bulbs. Read the package carefully to be sure youre getting the kind you want. Youll also see a range in prices and quality; dont scrimp too much on the quality. For strings of Christmas lights, try some of the new LED (light emitting diode) lights. Where traditional mini lights use 0.4 watts of energy per bulb, the LED bulbs use just 0.04 watts each and are a lot brighter. They havent perfected created warm white light with LEDs yet so the strings of white lights give off more of an ice-blue color. But the multi-colored strings are bright and cheery with vivid colors on each bulb. For more information about holiday lighting and other energy-saving tips visit the New York Energy $martSM website, www.GetEnergySmart.org or call 1-877-NY-SMART.