Thursday, July 23, 2009

writer's block

So I haven’t blogged in a while because I’m up to my ears in boxes trying to get everything packed for our big move to Massachusetts next week and have just felt so overwhelmed with the details of this move that I’ve found myself with writer’s block. All my ideas for posts just seem stupid or when I sit down to actually write them don’t come together as I envisioned. I think this is because I’ve hit what I’ll call the “quitting time” phase. A lot of people who start a blog write like crazy for a few weeks and then sort of drop off suddenly. It’s like they no longer have anything interesting to write about. It happened to me on my last blog and seems to be striking again.

Which made me think – why do we find ourselves so uninteresting that we can’t even come up with four weeks of material to write about? Are our lives that boring? Or have we become that uncreative? Or maybe a more positive way to think about it is that we crave person-to-person interaction and community and therefore resist opening our lives up to an online community?

For now I find myself without answers, but relieved that at least a blog about having nothing to write about may help me push through my writer's block and hopeful for comments that provide some insight. Successful bloggers – share your secrets!

Monday, July 6, 2009

incentive to buy local

The above picture is of the demolition of O.W. Houts and Sons, a locally owned, old fashioned department store. One of the coolest places in town "Houts" contained a hardware store, a butcher, a grocery store, household items, a furniture store, a garden center and a lumber yard. The business was started 80 years ago by O.W. Houts and was being run by his grandson and great grandson, Larry and David Houts when the decision was made to close its doors.

We have a special connection to Houts because the Houts family owns the apartment we rent which also means we live right down the street from the building. Larry Houts is our landlord and David Houts is our matience guy. One of Steve's favorite things about Houts being down the street from us was that he could stop on the way home, buy a couple of fresh steaks from their butcher, come home and slap them on the grill for dinner - delicious! The hardware store in Houts was also the place where you could find the random things that no other hardware store would have. Our friend that has a DeLorean (yes like in Back to the Future and no I'm not kidding!) told us that Houts was the only place in town that had a machine that could make copies of the key for his car - random stuff like that was what you could discover in this cool old building.

When we ran into David Houts after the decision was made for the business to close you could see he was overwhelmed with grief for the business his great-grandfather had built. He explained to us that they crunched the numbers at the end of the year and just found that it didn't make sense to keep it open any longer. Many employees lost their jobs, some, like the butcher, who had worked at Houts practically their whole lives.

In a few weeks all the rubble will be cleared away, the old Houts sign will be taken down and there will be no evidence that this neat store ever existed. Things like this - the disappearance of what in some ways was a historic store - are what motivate me to buy local. Often this means that I pay more for the items that I buy, but I really don't mind that because I can see the face that the extra money is going to. I know what and who my money is supporting and to me that's worth spending more money on less things.

Some of our favorite local places to shop in State College:
Appalacian Outdoors: Outdoors store in downtown State College located on S. Allen Street. A few years ago EMS tried to come into down and the "App House" put them out of business!

Comic Swap: Comic book store located in downtown State College on S. Frasier Street. Being the wife of a comic book lover I have to mention our local comic book shop. I've been in a few comic shops with my husband over the years and I have to say that this is by far the coolest I've seen.

Myer's Dairy: Dairy, ice cream shop and restaurant located in Boalsburg, just outside of State College. Their milk made a milk lover out of me (who never liked milk before) and their ice cream is by far the best in town.

The Nittany Quill: Stationary store located in downtown State College on S. Frasier Street. For Christmas Steve got me a giraffe ornament from here that was made out of leaves, seeds and fibers from palm trees. It looks like it was made out of bristles from a brush - very cool!

Ottos Pub & Brewery: Restaurant/Brewary located on N. Atherton Street. This is our favorite restaurant in town! They serve local food and beer brewed onsite. They also make the most delicious root beer. All their beef is from cows they raise themselves; they even supplement their feed with the spent barley from their brewery.

Stitch Your Art Out: Local knit/quilt shop located just outside State College in Pine Grove Mills. Being a knitter I have to mention the local knit shop!

Webster's Bookstore Cafe: Used bookstore and coffee shop located in downtown State College on S. Allen Street. This is my favorite "hangout" in State College. They serve delicious, fair trade, shade grown coffee along with a lot of delicious local foods for lunch or breakfast. They also have a huge selection of used books at very reasonable prices. Also every winter they have a half price used books sale which makes some of the books as cheap as $2 or $3!
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