Shop Til You Drop In Small Town America

Something About Nothing, By Julie Seedorf

This year I am going to pretend I am Oprah and name some of my favorite places and spaces for Christmas shopping and eating out. I like low stress when it comes to shopping, and visiting small independent local businesses not only take the angst out of shopping but I grab some fabulous finds.

For me, mellow started on Thanksgiving. I had a new book come out the week of Thanksgiving so I decided to be lazy and let Lacey’s Catering 22090035_1819744724983181_2499230896523968824_nin my hometown cook Thanksgiving dinner for me. We had turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green beans, cranberries and two different flavors of pie. I wasn’t disappointed, in fact, it was better than my cooking (you’ve heard about my cooking) and my family stuffed every morsel in their mouths.

23754766_1371564572965476_4145206500419971528_nThe next place I would highly recommend is Bruss-Heitner Funeral Home. Yes, you heard me right. I am shopping at the funeral home and not for the perfect urn or casket but Christmas gifts. The Bruss-Heitner Boutique is now open for business after they transformed former offices into a gift bonanza and filled it with unique items from local artists and crafters. The wooden star you will see on my living room wall I purchased there was made from wood taken from my parent’s house before it was torn down and made into a piece of beauty by a gifted crafter.

We are lucky my hometown also has the Humble Heart, 23472374_1701478276551519_3230222304644100673_nanother venue for gifts. A glass angel I gifted to a friend was designed out of old glass dishes. It was hard to choose an angel because each one was different.

Other small communities have peaceful shopping for the holidays. The Quilters Cottage 10710730_955780407769267_3365013144510390678_nin Kiester not only has some easy patterns and fabric for someone like me who wants to make some gifts but is not an experienced sewer. Make sure you take time to smell the candles, try the lotion or take the time to see what else the cute store offers.

Not too far from Wells, located on the old Highway 16, is Antiques of the Midwest, 20264901_1537186343004760_656795874063435660_nhaving recently relocated from Albert Lea. I couldn’t pass up the cute cat vase that I didn’t need and if I can talk myself into parting with it, it will make a great gift for a friend. And they have a giant blue Mr. Blue from the M&M candy collection that would be perfect for your friend that collects unusual things.

My Christmas shopping wouldn’t be complete without buying a few books for my family and to find book gifts I will drive to File Nov 27, 10 39 20 AM.jpegSweet Reads in Austin. I love meandering through the store and watching the electric train traveling around a track near the ceiling in one of the rooms. This year I will be picking up another inspiration bracelet and a pair of mittens, which are made by another local artist whose items are carried by Sweet Reads.

There is nothing like stopping by the Interchange 11070394_968250563199729_5383895795576492739_oin Albert Lea to have a hot coffee drink, pick up a bag of coffee and browse the gift section and artwork on the wall. Be careful if you buy the toffee for a gift because you will want to eat it and it might not make it into the gift box.

When I am traveling around to the smaller communities there are a few places I love to stop at to have lunch or dinner. Buckley’s Bar and Grill in the tiny town of Walters, Club 569 in Easton, the Willows in New Richland or if you are in Bricelyn and visiting the Brush Creek Boutique, make sure you stop at Bud’s cafe.12484784_811421885670285_3670615173410327605_o.jpg They were voted as having the best pancakes in Minnesota.

Wineries are also a place to shop — and not just for wine. And Three Oaks Vineyard and Winery in Albert Lea is the place to find a gift of wine for someone special. Area wineries also offer various venues for shirts and other clever gifts.

15940568_671581753023139_7016903072361831703_nDon’t discount area museums. My small town museum, the Wells Depot Museum, has gifts for the history lover. Visit your community museum and learn about the history of the area and then give someone you love the gift of memories from the past.

If you are ready to shop until you drop, do it in small-town America. Look for those unique out-of-the-way places. They are out there to be discovered. If you have a favorite place, list it in the comments after I post this article on my blog Give yourself the gift of peace and tranquility shopping at the small, independent unique places and spaces. The adventure you find in rural southern Minnesota while shopping for the ones you love will be one you will never forget and keep you coming back time and again. And you can’t beat the customer service of a mom and pop shop.

After you have chilled out and experienced the tranquility of small-town unique, give your list another tweak. Stop and drop off a donation for a local charity to help those whose stress is not a rarity, the hungry and poor and those who will have no gifts at their door. You will have found another reason for the season.


Now I want to put a disclaimer in this post. If you see my books in some of the pictures, yes, some places carry my books but that is not the reason these are my favorite spaces. These are my favorite spaces because of the merchandise, the ease of shopping, the ambiance of the businesses and the friendly proprietors. Shop til you drop. And if you have some favorite businesses be sure to comment and if you want to share a picture or something you bought with your comment. There might be a free kindle book in it for you. Merry Christmas.

Thoughts Of An Insomniac

By Julie Seedorf
Published 9:35 am Monday, July 25, 2016

Julie Seedorf’s column appears in the Tribune every Monday.

julie 2015 profile picWhen you follow one weaving van and there is no cell phone in sight, you suspect they may have been dabbling in something. When a second weaving van immediately takes up where the first one left off, you wonder if you are being led astray. But then you remember the saying, three strikes and you’re out, and you decide to call the police before that happens. Those three strikes could mean a life.

Spending time with kids and teenagers keeps your joints limber, your mind open, your face from cracking because it exercised with smiles, and…it gives you a good excuse to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon.

Women my age dye their hair to keep the gray from peeking out. Little did we know, the gray we are trying to hide, is the new it color. Thank you, Kelly Osbourne, and all the young women who are dying their hair gray, because they admire our undyed look. Who knew at our age we would have the it look naturally. Think of the confusion for those supermarket and restaurant workers when it is senior citizens day. The gray hair usually gives it away. Maybe that is it; those young people are trying to get our discount.

Pink hair and orange hair and green hair are stylish these days too. I love my granddaughter’s green hair. She wasn’t impressed when I told her I was going pink. I decided if the younger generation can dye their hair gray, I can steal their hair color and dye mine pink.

I haven’t had my hair cut since last October. It is my old age, try growing it long, attempt. The last haircut must have been a good one because it hasn’t made me want to take a scissors to my hair on the spur of the moment. I am finding long hair much easier to take care of than short hair. The last time I had long hair, in the dark ages, it had to be rolled up on rollers. Remember sleeping on rollers and scaring your husband? My goal is to grow it out so I can get it cut. Yes, one length, so I can plop it on top of my head and go. I am a plop and go girl in my old age. Although I already am a plop girl, just ask my couch.

Grandchildren don’t know that Spam can almost taste like ham. There are times little white lies are called for, such as telling your grandchildren the sandwich they are eating is ham, and then when they are finished eating and liked the sandwich, you announce it is really Spam — the same sandwich they wouldn’t eat last time because they were sure they wouldn’t like it. We Grandma’s are tricky.

It is amazing, you think you know the people who have been lifelong friends, and after all these years you find there is part of them that hates and are intolerant of others, and you never knew. As another friend said, quoting Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy, when discovering this, “Who are those guys?”

We can take a lesson from our dogs and cats. The first thing they do when they wake up is the yoga move the downward dog, to stretch their body. A routine stretch takes seconds, yet we wait to do that which is good for us, only when we are frozen in place. Why is it self-care is last on our list of to-dos? Perhaps that is why experts say pets reduce our stress. They already know the secret to self-care.

Reading signs must be harder these days. The slow-moving vehicles keep to the right– sign needs to be clearer. I feel they should put one of those flashing signs below the hill stating the speed and a large sign in large print with these words added to the flashing vehicle sign, “If it says 50 or slower — move over, this means you or we will push you up the hill.” There must be latent road rage in my heart because I want to yell that every time I have to pass in the slow lane, the slow person that is, in the fast lane.

I am going to turn off the news of the election until it is almost over. I can’t make a decision based on what I am hearing and seeing on television and the news. The only thing happening is I am getting desensitized to hate mongering and name calling. I don’t blink an eye at it anymore. Maybe that is what is supposed to happen. They are trying to make Minnesota Nice go away and make us into Minnesota Slice. Maybe I am already there. I am going to slice that news cable.

I am writing this at 4 a.m. Checking my Facebook feed I see I have good company at 4 a.m., my neighbor is awake too. Maybe we should have coffee. Or I could have virtual coffee with my many other online friends that are sleepless in cyberspace.

I leave you with a few quotes to give you pause for thought throughout the week, taken from my appointment book, “Words To Live By from Primitives by Kathy.”

“If life gives you lemons, a simple operation can give you melons.”

“Some people dance in the rain, others just get wet.”

“Children are great imitators so give them something great to imitate.”



SPRINKLE LIFE1Good Morning, I am tired of all the negative things I have seen on Facebook the past few weeks so help me spread joy today. Let’s make Joy go viral. Spread the joy. Every day we can find joy in the midst of sorrows and in the smallest details of life if we look for it. Today look for joy and spread the word. I’ll be watching to see how many of you are with me in this. Joy can change the world.