Made in NH Expo delivers the goods

Whoo-heee!!! I'm a tad broke after this weekend's excursion through the #MadeInNH Expo at the downtown Hilton in Manchester--formerly the Radisson Hotel, which, like "No Smoking" announcements on airplanes, I wonder how long we will have to say. Actually, I formally decree, for me, this will be the last time: Goodbye Rad, hello Hillie!

Saturday, Louis and I arrive around 10am, just as the Expo is opening, thinking, "We'll get there before everyone else," which, it turns out, is exactly what hundreds of other Granite Staters figured too. The queue moves quickly, and after paying our $9 per person cash entrance fee, we are soon inside, stopping immediately to validate our parking for $6, otherwise, face it, you know you will forget and you'll either sulk because you have to walk alllllll-the-waaaay back, or you will sulk because you'll have to pay full price. Trust me: Validate first.

Louis immediately gravitates towards a woodsmaker--is that a term? It should be--with beautifully carved handcrafts, bowls, tools, and toys. We've been looking for practical gifts for Iris (6) and Athena (4), and decide on diamond willow encased compasses. I look forward to teaching the girls how to navigate using these, although, being free range farm kiddies, they may already know.  

Next, we stopped at Cocos Coffee for a cuppa. Co-owner Samantha Bellows is super-friendly, educating us on the single origin, small batch coffees. I get something "caramel-y," and Louis gets something "nutty and earthy." This seems like a good time to mention that we are, at this time, on Day Four of our First Ever Fast. You know, that thing when you don't eat solid foods for d-a-y-s.

Fasting is not as hard as I thought it would be, or, shall I say, I am not as hungry as I thought I would be--thankfully, mostly because I already regulate my energy through a Keto lifestyle--but it is challenging being around this much unanticipated food input suddenly, and I can tell my willpower is slipping.

We stop at The Spicy Shark, handcrafted hot sauces that are "fiercely unique, bold, and vibrant, yet flavorful and balanced." "Would you like to taste some?" WOULD I??? Me to Louis, while grabbing a plastic spoon, "Technically, it's a liquid, right?" To the owner, holding out my spoon, "Yes, please!" We try six flavors, ranging from heat Level 2 to Six. The second to last, Level 5, contains ghost pepper, which, if you have ever watched a cooking show, is like, DEATHCON FIVE, and the last sauce has a pepper I don't recall the name of... something Carolina, maybe? But. A six. And HOT. Hotter than a ghost pepper. And, apparently, a way to get legally high on Day 4 of a Fast. Seriously. Ping, wheeee, whooooo, wow! Or, as the product information states: "The Megalodon was imposing enough to give dinosaurs nightmares in its day. This 5 Alarm sauce has a sweet cherry start with the blazing finish of the Carolina Reaper Pepper." REAPER??? See??? There. If that doesn’t put some hair on "You Can't Stop the Signal, Mal's" chest, I don’t know what will. In our "Hot Sauce for Breakfast Delirium," we buy 4 bottles of the delicious sauces, but sadly, only one makes it home, so if you found a brown bag with 3 bottles of Shark Sauce that aren't yours somewhere, hit me up.

From there, we stop at the Hobbs Tavern and Brewing Co. booth to chat. These guys are doing “an idyllic countryside tavern and brewhouse offering warmth, history, classic comfort food, an handcrafted beer at the foot of the New Hampshire White Mountains.” They can also cater to large groups for weddings and functions. I’m planning to go check out  the venue next time I’m in the Lakes region, and psst: they have an extensive gluten-free menu. We also grab a bottle of Beasley's Barbecue Sauce, take a quick look at the Spot On virtual smart pet fence, and get a few packets of oh-so-delish paleo granola from Swanzey's Maple Nut Kitchen.

Next, we get sucked into a stall by a man with a Fabulous Beard. An impossible-to-resist Fabulous Beard. A stupendously, deliciously well-groomed Fabulous Beard. A Real New Hampshireman Beard. Needless to say, the Winnipesaukee Whisker Oil man does not have a hard time selling Louis some Fabulous Beard grooming oil with "sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, argan, grapefruit seed extract and essential oils."

Can I take this moment to mention how many products that aren't actually food, are kind of... food-ish... something you will fixate on when you are fasting. For example: My "creamy" hair "mousse" (!!!) is called "Milk Shake." Milk Shake silver shine WHIPPED CREAM, made with ORGANIC BLUEBERRY EXTRACT AND MILK PROTEINS. No. I didn't eat it. But I was kind of tempted.

We are bombarded by these food-like prompts all day long, even when we're are nowhere near actual food. No wonder so many people are obese, we are constantly stimulating our brains with thoughts of food. But, as you start to concentrate on leading a healthier lifestyle, you will grow more aware of these stimuli, and as you do, you can train yourself to ignore them. Or, at least, that's what I tell myself as I march resolutely past the bread stall, before momentarily losing focus at Loon Chocolate, where I buy 3 slabs of dark "Live Free and Eat Chocolate" for post-fast living next week.

On the fashion side, at Granite State Apparel, Louis stocks up on some new tees and and a colorful hoodie, and I snag a couple of cammo "Made in NH" baby onesies for gifts for friends participating in our #BreedEmForFreedom program. Screenprinter and graphic designer, Shawn Burke throws in a few complimentary NH stickers, which already adorn my laptop cover right next to my ACLU "Get A Warrant" sticker. I also find two incredible brass rings at NuArt Jewelry, and Louis gets a very cool set of wooden sunglasses from Slyk Shades. Check out Slyk's founder, Josh Fitzmaurice's story, and consider buying a pair... for every frame sold, a tree is planted, and part of proceeds go to help local New England communities.

Our second to last stop before we have to boogie is at photographer and mask maker Oakseeder's stall. I'm completely enthralled by his photographs. His art is strange, spooky, ethereal, and very cool. Like "naked tatted bearded New Hampshireman in a forrest eating at a table with a boar's head mask on it" cool. I buy two.

Our last stop is to pop in at The Healthy Porcupine's stall where my friends are helping others "Opt out of the chemical lifestyle" with their 100% natural, handmade tallow based soaps. I have been using their products for years, and highly recommend! Yes, with its coconut, olive oil, lemongrass, rosemary, and humanely sourced tallow from grass-fed cows from local New Hampshire farms, you'll probably want to eat these too. Don't, unless you are washing your mouth out with soap. In which case... YUM! :P





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