#SHOPSMALL—Small Business Saturday

For the past 88 years, the official start for the holiday season was the arrival of Santa Claus at the finale of Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York. Whether you watched at home or braved the cold to watch it live in Herald Square, everyone eagerly awaits Jolly Old St. Nick’s hearty chuckle signaling his arrival and ushering in the final countdown to the Big Day—and all the shopping that goes into preparing for it.

Santa Claus waves to the crowd during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 27, 2014 in New York City. The annual tradition marks the start of the holiday season. Getty Images/Andrew Burton

Black Friday now actually starts on Thanksgiving Day (seriously there were folks on the news camped out in front of stores having their turkey as they waited in line for the their door buster sales). And for those of us who do not brave the frigid temps, the long lines and sometimes insane shoppers, there is always Cyber Monday (which for some retailers has been going on for over a week). But how many remember to #ShopSmall?

What am I talking about?

Well four years ago American Express launched a “shopping” holiday to encourage the patronage of “brick and mortar” businesses—small and local—within our communities called Small Business Saturday. In all the holiday rush, many of these gems get loss in all the rush and excitement offered by big box retailers and e-commerce stores. Personally this is my favorite shopping day of all.

Shopping locally is a great way to find unique gifts (many small businesses feature the wares of local artisans, specialty items and more) and to give a boost to your local economy. In recent years, Small Business Saturday has gone on to include small e-commerce sites that may get lost among the Amazons and E-bays of the digital world. This year, I want to share the businesses where I #ShopSmall.

THE THRITY HOG & NOIR ET BLANC (NYC)

Located in the chic NoMad neighborhood in Manhattan, the Thrifty HoG is known for upscale vintage apparel and resale store specializing in items for the whole family and the home. Besides scoring some amazing finds (like vintage Louis Vuitton sneakers and super sexy Proenza Schouler booties), you’re not only supporting a local business but you will also be helping the homeless via Hearts of Gold, a charity founded by Deborah Koenigsberger whose mission is to help homeless women and their children build sustainable lives. All of the proceeds from the Thrifty HoG goes to support the various programs (including job training, school supplies and more) provided by Hearts of Gold—celebrating its 20th anniversary– throughout the year. On Small Business Saturday, the Thrifty HoG is offering 30% off your entire purchase.

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Deborah also owns the upscale women’s boutique next door called Noir et Blanc. Noir et Blanc (or NEB for short) features a curated selection of contemporary American and European designers handpicked by the owner herself. With brands including Tracy Reese, Chen Luu, Donna Morgan and Ali Ro, Deborah and her staff will definitely have you bringing the catwalk to the sidewalk with the beautiful collections they have in store. Shop Small with Noir et Blanc which is offering 40-50% off their 2014 winter collections.

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The Thrifty HoG is located at 11 W 25th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue and Noir et Blanc is next door at 7 W 25th Street in Manhattan.

SULA NYC

I have been singing the praises of SULA NYC for a while now. This New York-based luxury spa brand’s entire beauty collection is based around the core ingredient of argan oil. Founded by Patricia Reinders, SULA NYC is sustainably sourced in Morocco, is 100% organic and is never tested on animals (they’re Leaping Bunny certified). The brand has quickly established itself with high quality products with proven results. Shoppers can enjoy three of SULA NYC’s most popular products (including the famed signature scented moisturizer, Fruit of Desire) in a beautifully packaged gift box. Sold in select boutiques and spas worldwide, you can shop SULA NYC’s website for this set and other amazing products. The gift set retails for $55.

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NATURALLY ME (NC)

Founded by a mother who was looking for healthy, all- natural remedies for her children’s different skin care issues, Naturally Me had humble beginnings as a labor of love. Owned and operated by Chaundra Smith, Naturally Me is a North Carolina-based certified vegan body care and candle company. Created on the belief that what goes on the body is as important as what goes in the body, Naturally Me features amazing products including the All Over Butter (an all natural steroid-free body butter that can be used on everything from your scalp to the soles of your feet—it’s my go to moisturizer from my hair and body—especially in the winter) and their deliciously aromatic soy “dessert candles” (seriously there’s one that smells like chocolate chipped cookies)— all still handmade by Chaundra herself. Naturally Me can be found in select boutiques around the country and via their wesite. For the next few days, including Small Business Saturday, everything is 50% off!

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Interesting…as I just finished my last featurette, I just realized that every brand featured today is woman owned and operated. How cool is that? So not only are you supporting small businesses when you shop the stores/sites featured here, you’re also supported 3 womenpreneurs who are also mompreneurs!

So today as you continue your world wind shopping spree, please #ShopSmall and support these and other local businesses today on Small Business Saturday!

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LET THE HUNGER GAMES BEGIN! (Reviews of BYSTRICTIN and VYSERA)

With today ushering in a once-in-a-lifetime event, Thanksgivukkah (the rare occurrence when Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall on the same day), many of us are preparing for a day (and for some eight days) of enjoying savory entrees and sweet delights with friends and family. Seriously…this does not bode well with those of us trying to watch our waistlines. So what’s a girl to do?

We all know that if you cut down the amount of food you eat, you will shed those unwanted pounds. For some that is easier said than done. For others, a little assistance is needed. In extreme circumstances, some opt for surgeries like gastric bypass or even the lap band. With any surgery there are risks—potentially dangerous ones. And let’s not talk about the astronomical costs associated with bariatric surgery. And need I remind you that you can’t get gastric bypass if you are not clinically obese (and even then there are criteria that one must meet in order to quality). Does that mean that there is no hope for those of us who are looking to lose fifty pounds or less? Fear not my dear readers…there is hope.

Well, earlier this month, I shared a tip that I got from Dr. Oz about eating black soybeans a half hour before lunch and dinner to help curb your appetite. It actually works. But maybe beans aren’t your thing.  Well, here are two more Curvy Socialite approved suggestions that may help you in that battle against those oh-so-tempting latkes and turkey that will be staring your down at the dinner table tomorrow.

For the past few weeks I have been testing two new products that have recently hit the market.

BYSTRICTIN

One of the hardest things about weight management (fancy way of saying dieting) is that it can be hard. No, I’m not making excuses about putting in the hard work at the gym or moving in general, but rather I am talking about lifestyle can get in the way. Working long hours at the office, traveling regularly for work or having a job that has you attending a lot of events doesn’t really lend for having healthy eating habits…no matter how hard you try. Your gym time is or naught if you find yourself munching on snacks all day or skipping meals and gorging yourself later.  Maybe BYSTRICTIN is for you.

BYSTRICTIN Meal Replacement Formula

BYSTRICTIN is all about blocking your hunger.  Utilizing the patented Gastric Fill Technology, BYSTRICTIN uses an all natural ingredients to create an immediate feeling of being full causing you to eat less. I can see your faces right now—giving me that “ummm ok “look. Ok. Let me tell you a little more.

BYSTRICTIN contains a special complex blend of soluble fiber (doesn’t contain stimulants, fat blockers or diuretics) that comes in a variety of flavors (I tried the vanilla one) that you mix with water to create a shake. All you have to do is replace a meal or two with the shake followed by a glass of water and you’re done. The ingredients in BYSTRICTIN will absorb the water and expand in your stomach within minutes—the patented Gastric Fill Technology. You should feel satisfied without feel jittery or other crazy side effects.

I tried BYSTRICTIN for about a month and used it as my breakfast in the morning. For the most part, I didn’t really feel hungry for most of the day.  I only used it to replace one meal and had a light lunch and dinner (usually a salad for lunch and some type of protein (chicken, turkey, etc) vegetable and a side for dinner) and I managed to lose 10 pounds at the end of a month.

Interested in finding out more, visit BYSTRICTIN’s website at www.bystrictin.com.

VYSERA-CLS

Every year there is a new pill that pops up that claims to be the next “miracle” to solve our your diet needs.  They say they can help you lose weight (while you follow a strict low-cal, low fat diet). What if there was something that could take it one step further and actually “reshape” your entire body? I know you nearly choked when I said that. There is a new product out there that does just that – with real clinical research to support its claims. That product is…VYSERA.

So how does it work? It’s simple really. All you have to do is pop a pill right before you eat. You don’t have to wait half an hour or anything. You literally just take VYSERA just before you take your first bite. Recommended to be taken with your largest meals (say lunch or dinner), you take one tablet with each meal and that’s it. After 30 days, you should notice a change in weight and the inches on your hips, thighs and butt!

I know you’re wondering how they can make sure a claim. Well, they had a team of scientists who performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial where they had subjects take the pill along with their mail meal of the day. Thirty minutes later, the study group had a significantly lower percentage of blood sugar in comparison to the placebo group. They also noticed lower levels of increase in insulin, peptides and in the hunger hormone ghertin (who knew there was a hunger hormone?). At the end of the study, scientists found that VYSERA also caused a significant reduction in body weight, fat mass, BMI, fat tissue thickness and waist/hip/thigh circumference while maintain lean body mass. So what does that mean in laymen’s terms? When you take VYSERA, you end up absorbing a fraction of the calories in the meal and after regular use; you end up melting away the inches and the pounds. Who doesn’t want that? And the best part…no crazy side effects!

I tried this product as well for a month. I ate normally and took the pill generally at lunch and dinner (my highest calorie meals during the day). At the end of the trial period, I was 7 pounds lighter and had lost an inch off my waist, and a inch and a half off my hips and thighs. Definitely not complaining. You know this is going to be with me at the dinner table tonight.

Want to get your hands on VYSERA, visit www.vyseracls.com.

Because the ingredients in both BYSTRICTIN and VYSERA do not contain stimulants and all those other stuff in diet supplements of all, it’s safe. But with any type of supplement, you should consult your doctor before you start using it.

And with that, I wish you an your family a very Happy Thanksgivukkah….now LET’S EAT!

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