Category Archives: BasketWorks

Gluten-Free Doesn’t Mean Flavor-Free

When some of us hear “gluten-free”, our response is “blech”, referring to taste because we presume gluten-free foods have compromised flavor. 

We live in a culinary golden age where food scientists can take oats and create milk, and to that end, they’ve also managed to create delicious gluten-free foods that taste as good as foods that are gluten-filled.

How can this be? Read on. 

Why Gluten?

Why is gluten present in so many of our foods? 

Simply put, gluten acts as a binder. Found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye, gluten is a protein that adds a stretchy quality to foods, often improving the texture of things like breads by allowing the dough to stretch without tearing apart. 

But that doesn’t mean gluten is necessary, nor does it mean that gluten-free alternatives can’t be just as tasty.

In fact, many people who stop eating gluten find that their diet doesn’t need to change much. Many of the gluten-free choices are the same ones they’ve always eaten. The reality is, if you’re making healthy choices, and avoiding processed foods, spotting gluten and avoiding it is pretty easy.

Why Gluten-Free? 

There are many reasons people choose to cut gluten from their diet. The main reason is celiac disease, where intolerance to gluten causes an immune reaction in the small intestine. Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Abdominal Bloating
  • Chronic Diarrhea/Loose Bowel Movements
  • Chronic Gas
  • Acid Reflux
  • Skin Rash
  • Constipation
  • Peripheral Neuropathy

Alternatives to Gluten

Now you’re probably asking, “well what about foods WITH gluten, like bread and pastries?” 

Fortunately, there are many alternatives that allow you to enjoy the same foods you love, without the gluten. We’ve already touched on what gluten does, so how do we get that stretchy, binding effect? There are a few options available.

Gluten substitutes, like xanthan gum, gelatin, or our favorite vegan option, agar-agar, add the elasticity needed to hold stretchy doughs together. With a little practice, these alternatives will take your gluten-free baking to the next level.

Gluten-free flours are becoming more popular, and as a result, are also becoming more readily available. Try experimenting with different flours to find what you like best in your favorite recipes. There are many different flours to try, each with its own unique flavor and texture.

  • Pea Flour
  • Coconut Flour
  • Buckwheat Flour
  • Millet Flour
  • Sorghum Flour
  • Amaranth Flour

Here’s the thing, let’s say you’re…cough…in need of a…cough…gift basket for someone with a gluten-free lifestyle. You don’t need to…cough…search high and low. Look no further than our… 

🚨SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT🚨

🚨SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT🚨 

🚨SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT🚨 

🚨SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT🚨 

🚨SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT🚨  

…wonderful assortment of gluten-free gift baskets like this one with foods that already don’t contain gluten (peanut brittle, popcorn, cashews) and foods made without gluten (gluten-free cookies) but still taste delicious.  

So put on that apron and start experimenting with some recipes, or place an order for one our inimitable gift baskets. The flavorful world of gluten-free awaits!

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The Health Benefits of Cheese

It’s baaaaaaaaaack…Our next installment of our The Health Benefits of Fill-In-The-Blank Unlikely Foodstuff. 

Last time it was pasta, and today it’s an item we normally don’t associate with “good for you.” 

Who can blame us either? When something is as delicious as cheese–and associated with pizza, burgers, curds, and Opa!–how could it possibly enter the realm of healthy?  

That’s what we’re here for. Not only do we (shameless plug whisper) procure cheese and feature it in our gift baskets, but we’ve also conducted our research, leveraging the world’s foremost cheese scientists (the Internet) to coax out its health benefits. 

Read on, friends. 

High In Calcium

Dairy foods are high in calcium. 

Calcium is imperative for good bone and muscle health. Without it, bones and teeth grow slowly and struggle to recover from damage. Not good. Calcium is also known to prevent osteoporosis as we get older. Plus, foods high in calcium can help reduce blood pressure.

Packed With Protein 

Protein is the building block for our body’s cells, making muscle growth and recovery faster and providing us with energy. 

This essential nutrient is found in spades in cheese. In addition, the dairy fats in cheese contain Conjugated Linoleic acid (gesundheit!), which can help ease inflammation and even aid in the prevention of heart disease and obesity!

Below are popular cheese varieties and their nutritional content per average serving: 

Mozzarella 28g

  • Calories – 85
  • Protein – 6 grams
  • Fat – 6 grams
  • Carbs – 1 gram
  • Sodium – 176 mg
  • Calcium – 14% of recommended daily intake (RDI)

Feta 28g

  • Calories – 80
  • Protein – 6 grams
  • Fat – 5 grams
  • Carbs – 1 gram
  • Sodium – 370 mg
  • Calcium – 10% of recommended daily intake (RDI)

Ricotta 124g

  • Calories – 180
  • Protein – 12 grams
  • Fat – 12 grams
  • Carbs – 8 gram
  • Sodium – 300 mg
  • Calcium – 20% of recommended daily intake (RDI)

Cheddar 28g

  • Calories – 115
  • Protein – 7 grams
  • Fat – 9 grams
  • Carbs – 1 gram
  • Sodium – 180 mg
  • Calcium – 20% of recommended daily intake (RDI)

Parmesan 28g

  • Calories – 110
  • Protein – 10 grams
  • Fat – 7 grams
  • Carbs – 3 grams
  • Sodium – 330 mg
  • Calcium – 34% of recommended daily intake (RDI)

Goat Cheese 28g

  • Calories – 75
  • Protein – 5 grams
  • Fat – 6 grams
  • Carbs – 0 grams
  • Sodium – 130 mg
  • Calcium – 4% of recommended daily intake (RDI)

Other Stuff

Along with calcium and protein, cheese is also crammed with other great stuff, including:

  • Zinc
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamins A and B-12
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Riboflavin

Did We Leave Something Out?

Failing to mention a certain substance found in food and always featured in these blogs is akin to The Academy snubbing famous people during the Oscars In Memoriam segment. 

Perish the thought, for ANTIOXIDANTS are alive and well in cheese! 

Yes, the antioxidant, glutathione, known to roam in certain dairy products, including cheese, is vital to brain health and fighting age-related neurodegeneration. Turns out you can have your cheese and brain health and eat them, too!

From possibly reducing our risk of heart disease and promoting gut health to helping prevent diabetes and osteoporosis, we see that cheese can play an important role in a healthy diet. 

You know where you can find some? In (🚨SHAMELESS🚨) this (🚨PLUG🚨) delicious BasketWorks gift basket (🚨ALERT🚨).

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Supporting Small Businesses Strengthens Communities

At BasketWorks, we’re all about supporting small businesses and building community. I mean, jeez, we’ve been in business almost 25 years, so we can speak with some authority on this! 

Not only do small businesses support each other, but they can give a community the uniqueness that reflects its personality and welcomes visitors. Small businesses bring prosperity to communities both financially and by building relationships among its members. 

Today, we take a look at how this happens. 

Financial Advantage

As the little guys and girls, small businesses can have a big impact on  local economies

Local businesses tend to leverage other local businesses to fulfill their needs. You see, it doesn’t always have to be a dog-eat-dog (or cat-scratch-cat) competitive world. Whether it’s a restaurant buying produce from the farm down the road or the local web designer outsourcing graphic design work to a power partner, when entrepreneurs support each other, the entire community wins. BasketWorks walks the walk by referring other basket companies when the need arises. 

It’s not just an increase in business done locally that provides a financial advantage either. All these transactions between businesses lead to:

  • Keeping taxes local
  • Increased employment and income
  • Improved standard of living
  • Increased discretionary income inside the community

Community Identity

Small businesses tend to reflect the ideals of the communities in which they operate. 

Becoming representatives of their communities allows these businesses to cater to the specific needs of the local customer base, creating a true relationship between the business owner and their customers. 

Take us, for example. BasketWorks is a member…hold on a second…forgot to sound the 🚨SHAMELESS PLUG ALARM🚨. Where was I? Ah, yes, member. BasketWorks is a member of the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the GOA Regional Business Association, which further connects us to the communities we serve. With local founders, small businesses truly reflect the local culture, and as a result, can contribute to that identity in a meaningful way. 

This is a benefit for both businesses and customers. It encourages the owner to cater to their local client base, and this, in turn, encourages the customer to shop locally and build a relationship with local entrepreneurs. 

Environmental Impact

How a business operates can have a significant impact on the environment, and small businesses tend to focus more on how they affect the environment by doing the following:

  • Recycling
  • Using fluorescent or led lighting
  • Paperless documentation like email receipts
  • Using sustainable products like printer paper, cleaning products and to-go containers
  • Composting

I will take this opportunity to pat ourselves on the back and note that we recycle all of our incoming boxes, and we use clean fill in the bottom of baskets, including  packing peanuts we receive in shipment and the bits of cello we cut off the top of the wraps.

We also accept clean packing materials, we’ve installed LED lighting in our office, and we make a concerted effort to order products within 500 miles to reduce our carbon footprint. We can’t leave out composting. Rather than toss coffee grounds (from our daily nectar of the gods) and fruit peels into the garbage, we compost them.

Small business is good business. Small business owners are truly the lifeblood of their communities by helping their local economies through job creation, tourism, and supporting fellow businesses.   

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Why’s It So Darn Hard To Shop For Valentine’s Day?

The gift-giving experience is a dichotomy: we literally don’t have to leave our houses or even our couches to shop for and order gifts. Yet it can feel like we’re pulling our own teeth because we are terrified of buying the wrong thing and of feeling shame and embarrassment over it. 

Is there a bigger contradiction between the joy that a holiday symbolizes and the stress and anxiety that comes with celebrating it? Among the holidays that cause the most shopping angst for people is Valentine’s Day. I have to laugh at this excerpt from an article in Forbes that lists 20 reasons why not everyone is completely happy during Valentine’s Day:

1. Being reminded that you’re not in a relationship

2. Being reminded that you are in a relationship

I’m not judging anyone who gets overwhelmed by any holiday; rather, I’m here to examine why we do and what you can do to put your mind at ease and actually enjoy Valentine’s Day. 

Too Much Chocolate To Choose From 

Sometimes too much chocolate is a problem, as in there being too many options to make a decision. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate dipped this, chocolate infused that. Where do you even begin?  I mean, if only there were a retail site where one could shop for items. 💞💞💞SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT – VALENTINE’S DAY EDITION💞💞💞 

Oh sorry. Once again, someone tripped and set off that alarm. Since they did, you can find a small but mighty selection of gift baskets with delicious chocolates on this page

It’s Difficult To Be Original 

Maybe chocolate’s not your thing. Sometimes people want to stand out and present a gift that’s outside the box (Get it? Like a chocolate box that you’re standing on the outside of? See what I did there?) The good news is that if you want to go the food route, there are tons of other options. 

Sticking with sweet, gourmet donuts and cookies are all the rage, and there are definitely those with Valentine’s themes. For savory, how about preparing a charcuterie and cheese board? 

You Can’t Find Roses 

It does happen. 

If you wait until the last minute, you may be R.O.L or Rose Out of Luck. Fortunately, florists and other places that sell flowers have other choices. A while back, The Washington Post ran a story on this very topic. The florist owner who was interviewed suggested orchids because they’re perceived as being exotic and lasting longer than flowers, followed by tulips and carnations. 

You Can’t Find “The Perfect” Gift

Here’s a tip: there’s no such thing as the perfect gift. It’s as elusive as a lawn in Chicagoland that’s not covered in snow right now. 

Think of it as the right gift instead of the perfect one. How do you find the right gift?  Make it personal. Personalized gifts show kindness, thoughtfulness, and empathy, you know, everything your Valentine wants to receive. 

Writing The Card

This is a pressure-cooker no matter how you pressure-cook it. If you’re in a new relationship, and this is your first Valentine’s Day together, you need to knock it out of the park with the sweetest, most poetic and lyrical card message ever. On the flipside, if you’ve been married for 20-plus years, how could you compose something original? 

Three words: Make it genuine. Tell them what they mean to you, why you appreciate them, and why you love them. Give examples, like how they helped you when you were experiencing a challenging period, or made you laugh, or how they listened to you when you needed to be heard. 

It turns out that Valentine’s Day shopping doesn’t have to be fraught with worry and aggravation. Hopefully these tips will allow you to look forward to the holiday and quality time with your loved ones. 

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BasketWorks Is Different: Here Are 6 Ways We Stand Out

Today’s blog post is a combination of crowing and appreciation. As the title suggests, we discuss what makes BasketWorks unique, but we’re able to achieve these differentiators because of our customers and community. You inspire our creativity and innovation and remind us that when our hands are achy from designing and assembling gift baskets, it’s the hurts-so-good kind of pain.

Let’s get into it! Here are six ways that BasketWorks stands out.

1) Oodles of Experience 

We’ve got a very important anniversary coming up: 25 years in business (more on that in the coming weeks), also known as the Silver Jubilee or quadricentennial anniversary. According to the Internets, this anniversary can celebrate a marriage, a monarch’s reign, or how long you’ve owned that terry cloth shirt you bought at Structure your freshman year of college. 

The point is that we’ve been at this for a long time, and we know how to design the perfect gift basket that will make you look good to your oh so lucky recipients. 

Oh, I also spent four years working for a florist in college and graduate school, and I just can’t get rid of the attention to detail that experience taught me. 

2) Customization

Okay, there’s customization and then there’s customization

We don’t mess around. Our gift baskets and packages are built-to-order, meaning we can customize from our vast inventory, changing colors, creating custom imprinted ribbon, and adding or removing products (no nuts, add coffee, etc.).

Here’s proof: we once designed a fishing-themed wedding basket for newlyweds who planned to go fly fishing on their honeymoon. I don’t know how many fish they caught, but they were very happy with their gift basket. 

3) We Hunt For The Best Products 

If there were such a thing as gift basket product apex predators, that would be us, except we don’t harm living things. Rather, our staff attends many gift and gourmet shows annually (the International Housewares Show, Sweets & Snacks Show, two Chicago gift shows, and a national gift basket conference where I’ve taught for several years) to find new products and to taste and select every item we use in our gift baskets and gift packages. 

We understand that our customers have different palettes and nutritional preferences, which is why we maintain an inventory of gluten free, kosher, heart healthy, and other special diet foods. 

4) Local And Woman-Owned

BasketWorks is a proud, local and woman-owned business, and we support and leverage other small businesses, which helps strengthen our community. We are very active members of our local chambers of commerce, and not to brag or anything, but I was recognized as Volunteer of The Year by the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce & Industry.  

5) At Your Service 

We’re nothing if not consistent with the quality of our customer service because, to sort of quote the great Sally Field, “We like you! We really really like you!” You like us back, we’d like to think because of the following: 

  • We will gladly store your logo items to include in your gift baskets for products like onesies, mugs, pads of paper, and more.

  • We will gladly store your custom cards or business cards to use with your packages.

  • Most orders are shipped out the same or next business day.

  • We can create a custom page for you on our website showing only the products you want to see and/or only your custom products.

  • We return calls quickly, USUALLY  in under two hours but always before the end of the next business day, and you can expect to speak to a real person who can help you.  (I am so compulsive about checking voicemail).

6) We Care About Causes

Mental health awareness is near and dear to our hearts. I’m involved with the Peyton Heart Project and support its mission along with the #StoptheStigma movement to help end suicide and bullying. The project’s mission and name were inspired by many stories, including Peyton James’, a 13-year-old boy, the victim of bullying by peers, who took his own life in 2014. 

According to the Project:

“The delicate hearts, each one made by hand and each one representing the delicate heart of a life lost to suicide, have various inspiring quotes attached to them, along with our social media information. The hearts are placed in public places around the world for people to find during their everyday lives. We hope the hearts cause people to stop for a moment and reflect on a life lost to suicide, on bullying and on the fact that everyone’s life matters.”

I crochet and distribute thousands of hearts annually as part of this initiative. If you would like hearts, please email info@79gifts.com or call 847-599-9379. I’ve also presented to my synagogue on my experience with depression, which you can view here

We can’t thank you enough for your support. We will keep on keeping on! 

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The Health Benefits Of Pasta

Hopefully the title of this blog post just blew your mind. 

Pasta? Healthy? For Real?!?!

Indeed. 

But put the breaks on your chicken Parmesan, bucatini carbonara, and gnocchi bolognese carryout order. Pasta can only be healthy if you, well, make it healthy. 

The good news is that there are plenty of options to satiate you without making you feel like a total pasta sellout. For example–Whoa! What’s That? It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a 🚨SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT🚨–spinach fettuccine like the one featured in our Lotsa Pasta Gift Basket

It’s time to set the table, put on your bib, and read on. 

Pasta Can Help With Glycemic Index 

If you’re not familiar with the Glycemic Index (GI), then you’re like many of the rest of us. 

The GI is a measure of how quickly a food causes our blood sugar levels to rise. We quickly digest and absorb foods with high GI’s, which causes our blood sugar to spike, and that’s unhealthy. Pasta is considered a low GI food and can help your body metabolize it more slowly and lead to lower fluctuations in insulin levels, which is beneficial to your health and weight. 

It’s Part Of The Mediterranean Diet 

Apparently, the secret to life is the Mediterranean diet. 

We hear about it all the time, especially on those doctor’s shows, and for good reason: it’s known to lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Consisting of fruits, vegetables, fish, and olive oil, the diet does not restrict foods like pasta, which means you can eat your pasta and have your Mediterranean diet, too. 

Protein And Fiber-Rich

Why is protein important? For one, you need it to be alive. 

Proteins are considered the “building blocks of life” that fuel our energy and carry oxygen throughout our body in our blood. Our bodies also like protein because they create antibodies to combat infections and illnesses and keep our cells healthy. 

And fiber? We need it to regulate how our bodies use sugar, which helps keep hunger and blood sugar at bay. 

What does this have to do with the price of pasta in your grocery store? There are kinds that are plant-based, gluten-free, and packed with protein and fiber, as you will read next. 

It Comes In Many Healthy Forms 

Lest you thought there was only one kind of pasta, you were mistaken. Culinary innovation has made it possible to fashion pasta out of very very healthy ingredients like these mentioned by EatingWell:

  • Whole-Wheat Pasta: 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein per serving
     
  • Chickpea Pasta: Gluten-free with 8 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein per serving

  • Red Lentil Pasta: Plant-based, gluten-free, iron-rich with 6 grams of fiber and 13 grams of protein per serving

We should note that white pasta, the classic kind, is actually healthier than many folks think. It’s made with semolina flour and enriched with iron, folate, and B vitamins. 

Finally, we regret to inform you that our beloved antioxidants are unable to attend this post. We will make every effort imaginable to reprise our faithful, free radical-eviscerating friends in future blogs. Thank you for understanding. 

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My Realistic New Year’s Resolutions

The phrase “broken promises” must have originated with New Year’s resolutions. 

Raise your hand if you’ve ever pledged to make a resolution and never followed through or didn’t attempt it in the first place. 

Wow, I was expecting a lot of hands but not that many!

Count me among the resolution-breakers. There’s no shame in not fulfilling them because life tends to take up a lot of physical and mental real estate for us humans. That said, resolutions that are practical and suited to you are more attainable because you’ll actually want to pursue them. 

With that in mind, I’m going to share some of mine that may even align with yours. 

Five Minutes of Daily Meditation

I see your eye-roll, now stop it! 

Meditation this, meditation that. Everyone talks about it and mindfulness, and it can be downright annoying. But the positive, healthy effects of meditation are not B.S. Take this article from Mayo Clinic called Meditation: A Simple, Fast Way To Reduce Stress. First of all, great headline, and second, the benefits are numerous and supported by medical science:

  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Focusing on the present
  • Reducing negative emotions
  • Increasing imagination and creativity
  • Increasing patience and tolerance

Similar to how lifting weights strengthens your biceps, meditation exercises the brain, possibly resulting in healthier neurological activity “from changes in grey matter volume to reduced activity in the ‘me’ centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions,” per Forbes. 

Weekly Yoga

Yoga is meditation’s kissing cousin and comes with its own set of health benefits. 

According to hopkinsmedicine.com (as in Johns Hopkins, which knows a thing or two about health), “… if you’re going through an illness, recovering from surgery or living with a chronic condition, yoga can become an integral part of your treatment and potentially hasten healing.”

Specifically, yoga is shown to:

  • Improve strength, balance, and flexibility 
  • Help with back pain-relief 
  • Alleviate arthritis symptoms
  • Promote heart health 
  • Help you get better sleep
  • Increase energy
  • Manage stress

We could all use some of that. 

Read More Non-Fiction Books

I like to think that I’m a relatively humble person, but I do like to crow about the amount of reading I do. 

I mentioned in an earlier blog post that as of early November I’d read over 70 books. Now I’m up to 85. However, the majority have been fiction, which there’s nothing wrong with, but I want to sprinkle in more non-fiction. My list includes:

  • The Burning House
  • Race Matters
  • The Color of Law
  • Mindfulness
  • The 4% Fix
  • The Magic of Thinking Big
  • I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough”
  • The New One Minute Manager
  • Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life
  • Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team
  • The Princess Spy
  • No Ordinary Time
  • Lincoln’s Last Trial
  • Founding Mothers

If you have any recommendations, please put them in the comments section. 

Reduce Social Media Time 

Now raise your hand if you’ve gone down the social media rabbit hole more times than you’d like to admit. 

What has two thumbs, makes gift baskets, and is guilty of Facebook rants and doom-scrolling? Me! 

There are certainly benefits to social media–connection, creative ways to market your business, helpful information–but it also triggers negative emotions like anger, envy, frustration, etc. Citing various studies, Medical News Today reports that social media use is linked to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. 

I don’t need that, so in 2022, I am going to be more judicious with my social media time. 

You know, this is a pretty doable list, and damn it, I’m going to make it happen. With the few days left before 2022, I hope this inspires you to create one of your own. Happy New Year!

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4 Health Benefits of Tea

We’re big fans of tea. Otherwise we wouldn’t design baskets like our heralded Flower Garden Tea Time gift basket. 

Did someone sound the  🚨 SHAMELESS PLUG 🚨 alarm again? Come on! 

Tea is growing in popularity, so much so that Pinterest predicts in 2022, “Afternoon tea will become the new happy hour.” What perfect timing then for our next edition of “The Health Benefits Of” blog series. 

Whether you drink it in a mug, on the go, or with your pinky extended, here are four health benefits you need to know.

1. Tea Can Promote Heart-Health

Our tickers are important, and besides family history, what we eat and drink has implications on the health of our hearts.

Enter tea time. 

A 2016 meta-analysis (academic speak for a big study that combines data from other studies) reported a 20% reduction in the risk of heart attack and a 35% reduced risk of stroke for people who consumed up to three cups of green tea per day. Those who drank four or more cups of green tea daily had a 32% reduction in the risk of having a heart attack and lower levels of LDL cholesterol, the bad kind. 

Speaking of which…

2. It Can Help Lower Your Cholesterol 

Green tea’s active ingredient is called catechin–not to be confused with the Alaskan city, Ketchikan, though I’m sure there are tea drinkers there–which some researchers believe to be responsible for the prevention of cholesterol absorbing in the intestines as well as the increase of HDL cholesterol, the good kind. 

3. Tea May Boost Your Immune System

Immune cells protect us the most when they reach their targets faster. Tea has been known to shepherd this process and bolster the immune system following injury or illness due to its  antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory characteristics. 

4. Wait For It…

If you’re a loyal reader of our blog, you know what’s coming, and if you’re new, get ready for the big reveal. 

IT’S RAINING ANTIOXIDANTS, HALLELUJAH! IT’S RAINING ANTIOXIDANTS, AMEN! 

Visit anywhere on our blog page, and you’ll find no shortage of references to these wonderful, free radical-stomping compounds that protect our cells. 

Oh, and certain teas contain lots of them, particularly a potent flavonoid called ECGC, which can fight the free radicals that contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries. 

The Best Teas 

According to WebMD, the healthiest tea varietals are:

  • Green 
  • Black 
  • White 
  • Oolong
  • Pu-erh
  • Red 

Remember, to reap the health benefits of tea, you have to be careful what you add to your cup. Sugar, cream, syrups, and other indulgent ingredients will compromise everything we’ve discussed, so keep that in mind. 

Go on now and stock your pantry. 


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New Year’s Resolution: Be More Intentional About Gift-Giving

Well, Thanksgiving is a wrap, and Chanukah is in full swing. Before we know it, “‘Tis the holiday season” will soon be “‘twas” at the rate things are moving. New Year’s is right around the corner and a time for contemplation, celebration…and consternation over resolutions that you may or may not fulfill.  

As we enter 2022 (2022! Remember when such a year felt so far away?), it’s nice to consider what we could do differently to be better versions of ourselves. You’re likely in the midst of your holiday shopping, so how about making a commitment to become an improved gift-giver? 

We’ve previously written about the psychology of gift-giving and how to budget and schedule your gifting. In that vein and as the new year inches closer, consider making a resolution to be more intentional about the gifts you give.

Know Your Audience 

The occasion–birthday, holiday, life event, etc.–is the easy part, but being intentional about gift-giving involves understanding the recipient and knowing what makes them tick.

🚨SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT🚨

For example, you may know someone who absolutely loves sweet and savory treats, specifically Old Dominion peanut brittle, chocolate cherries, and sausage, which just happens to be some of the delicious items in our Season’s Greetings Holiday Gift Basket. The point is when you know what someone likes, it makes your job easier and their appreciation stronger. 

Focus on the Little Things

The presentation of a gift is often just as important as what is inside. That initial feeling of joy, seeing a beautifully wrapped box, or a meticulously arranged gift basket, shows your family, friends, or clients that you’ve gone the extra mile to make their gift special. 

Did you know that we can customize your gift with imprinted ribbon or even include items with your corporate logo and colors? Look at that, someone just accidentally sat on the 🚨SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT🚨 again.

Give an Experience 

A beautiful dress can get ruined by a dry cleaner. 

You know what’s taint-proof? An incredible experience. Too often, gifts add clutter over substance. Rather than focusing on “things”, think about the experience your gift offers. Painting lessons, concert tickets, and a gift basket of pasta ingredients (note the subtle link versus the in-your-face shameless plug alert) are gifts that inspire fun, togetherness, and the making of memories.

Be a Detective 

Finding the perfect gift sometimes takes a bit of investigation and forthrightness. Ask what the person wants or likes. What are their favorite foods, colors, and styles of clothing? By taking an interest, you’re guaranteed the next gift you buy will be something the lucky recipient enjoys.

The best part about this New Year’s resolution is that it is very very attainable. All it requires is a little planning, and who says you can’t start your resolution a month early? 

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11 Things I’m Thankful For

Let me start by saying that this isn’t an obligatory Thanksgiving blog post. Speed and chaos reign supreme more than ever, and to quote the great Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Pausing and soaking up gratitude keeps me going. 

Let’s kick off the holiday season with 11 things I’m thankful for.

1. Sandi and the Boys

You know how award winners sometimes forget to thank their spouses and kids (Hillary Swank, for one)? Yeah, I won’t make that mistake. 

Let me start with Sandi, my husband, who is warm, loving, and takes care of me in every way possible. It also helps that he’s a terrific father, talented chef, and a brilliant tech guy. 

Relax boys; you’re next. My sons, Joel and Alex, keep me on my toes and make me proud every day.

2. Local Family 

I’m fortunate to have family members who live nearby, including my mom, my sister and her family, Sandi’s sister and her family, and my adult nieces and their families, and my cousins. 

They certainly help keep me grounded.

3. Far-Flung Family

No offense to the folks above, but absence/distance makes the heart grow fonder. We have family spread out across the country and even the world. We stay in touch, and there’s nothing like visiting them on their turf or reuniting here. 

4. The Best Staff in the World

It takes a village, and if not for my heroic team–Betsy, Chris, Donna, Liz, and Wendy–we couldn’t create the best gift baskets in the business.

5. Friends 

I have close friends who I met when I was 4-years-old, and no, I’m not going to reveal how many years of friendship that is. The point is that it’s quite a beautiful thing to keep these bonds for so long. 

We’ve got our synagogue friends, many of whom are like family, our Lake Forest forever friends, and our love Piranhas, who don’t devour a hippopotamus whole within minutes, but rather, are the ones who helped us keep it together while Joel was ill. Though, I’m sure they’d eat a hippo for lunch if I asked. 

6. Books  

I am a book-binger. A friend of mine recently boasted that he just finished his 15th book, and I tried my best not to diminish his achievement, but I couldn’t help myself. 

“Uh, I’ve read more than 70 books this year,” I said, but I did congratulate him. 

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy guilty-pleasure TV, but there’s nothing like immersing myself in my books. 

7. Coffee, Bourbon, Chocolate and Pasta

These speak for themselves and work in any order. 

8. Doctors, Nurses, and Researchers 

I’m very transparent about my health conditions, including Depression and Crohn’s Disease. My appreciation for the health care professionals who’ve helped me and saved Joel’s life defies description. 

9. My Client Fan Club 

We’d also not be in business if not for our customers. Special shoutout to those raving fans who’ve been with us for 15-plus years and continue to promote and recommend BasketWorks. 

10. My Basket Babes

Once upon a time, this was a collective of six women in the same industry across the country, communicating via email chain. It was  a support system where we leaned on each other to persevere through issues and hardships, ranging from kid and work stuff to national events (there were 100 emails between us on 9/11). Now it includes folks in an assortment of amazingly supportive basket professionals in several Facebook groups. 

11. My Network 

Networking is good for business, as well as friendships. Some of networking’s greatest outcomes are meeting new people, sharing stories, figuring out ways to help each other, and before you know it, you’ve got a friend. 

To my circle of local professionals who I am honored to call friends: you support me in more ways than you can possibly imagine. 

It feels good to share this. How about that? Happy Thanksgiving!

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