23 November 2015

Shop Fort Wayne Small Businesses!

Hey friends!

Ben and I try really hard to follow some basic guidelines with Christmas shopping every year.  I was going to go all into the whys, but then I got lazy.  If you are wondering why we follow these rules, try google or ask me. ;)

Christmas Shopping Rules: Shop small business, shop local, shop fair trade, shop Made in USA, shop “ethical."  Not every item falls into all categories obviously, but generally over half of our shopping falls into at least one of those categories.

I know most of my Facebook friends do not live in Fort Wayne, but I do know a lot of people flood into Fort Wayne to come shop at our big mall, and all the chains surrounding.  I decided to put together a shopping guide that goes beyond that. Maybe you can consider visiting a few of these places BEFORE setting foot in the mall?  And please do not eat at our chain restaraunts!! You will be missing out.  

These are my personal favorites, BUT there are so many cool places!  I wish I could list them all. I did link below for a list of local downtown businesses. 

Fancy and Staple: (Downtown)  Brand new shop downtown.  It is filled with a lot of unique gift items, some local and most products made by other small businesses throughout the country.  A majority (not all) is made in USA.  It is a pricey boutique, but the items are really fun. 

Creative Women of the World: (Downtown)  The bottom of the store is all fair trade items.  Most of it caters towards women, but they also sell coffee, tea, and chocolate.  Upstairs has a lot of unique goods made by local Fort Wayne women artisans.  A lot of jewelry and some other things.

Hedgehog Press: (Northside neighborhood, near downtown) This is a print shop in our neighborhood, but the owner sell lots of fun items too.  We have bought butterfly earrings, printed coasters, cards, and notepads from here. Very cool stuff. Definitely a gem of a place!

Sweets So Geek: (North Anthony Corridor, north of downtown)  They make chocolates and cookies shaped like “nerd” culture figures.  You know, Star Wars, Dr. Who, Superheros.  Someone on our list nearly always gets something from here.  They also sell various local items made by other small businesses in town.  Like superhero and star wars stuffed animals, wall art, jewelry, etc. 

Stoners: (Downtown)  Lots of gag items and costume type things.

History Center, Fort Wayne Zoo, Science Central, Art Museum, Botanical Gardens gift shops: (Downtown)   All of these places are open year round, and do not require paying admission to shop. 

City Exchange: (Downtown)  I have not been in here yet.  They used to host a holiday pop up shop event around this time of there year that was AMAZING.  Now they semi-permanently house several small, local vendors who are somewhat testing the waters of having their own retail shops.  Check it out!

Summit Sports, Comics, and Games: (Jefferson Pointe, West Side) Title pretty much says it all.  Find gifts for all your sports lovers and comic book and nerd culture fans here.  Located in the Jefferson Pointe Shopping Mall.

The Olive Twist: (Coventry Plaza, West Side)  Fancy, flavored olive oils and spices.  If nothing else, stop here for the free samples.  Very neat shop!

The Monogram Shop: (Coventry Plaza, West Side)   This store has so many cool gifts for everyone!  They have unique toys, baby items, sports novelties, loads of stationary, and a lot of other cool things you won’t find anywhere else.
Firefly CafĂ©: (North Anthony Corridor, north of downtown) Has a small section of locally made products.  Eat lunch or a snack while you are here. 

Simply Socks Yarn Company: (East State Village, north of downtown) I went in here once, and it was awesome. Such a quaint little shop in my neighborhood.    Not into yarn? I bet someone on your list is.

DeBrand's: (Three locations)  A Fort Wayne classic.  DeBrand's make artisan chocolates.  They make great gifts.  Or you can just stop and get some for yourself. I won't tell. ;)

On small business Saturday (November 28): 
Artlink: They host the Foxy Ladies Art Posse.  This just means a lot of really cool businesses have booths set up selling so many awesome gift options.  Pottery, jewelry, stuffed toys, shaped crayons, leather wallets, greeting cards, hats, scarves, lotions…just some I remember of the top of my head.

Downtown Farmer’s Market:  The Holiday Market is so vibrant!  Some vendors I remember from last year: spices, lotions and body care, scarves, coffee, jewelry, jerkeys, cookies, so much goodness!  Located at Parkview Field.

We buy a lot of Christmas gifts between these two places.  The city also hosts “Holly Trolley” shopping on this day.  There is a trolley that will take you all over downtown to shop at local downtown businesses.  They have an excellent list of all the downtown businesses on their website! http://downtownfortwayne.com/holly-trolley/

While you are here, eat at:  (All are kid friendly.)
Caliente: (East State Village, north of downtown)  Small, authentic Cuban sandwich shop in our neighborhood. 

Acme: (East State Village, north of downtown)   Neighborhood bar and grill with solid food choices sure to please anyone.

Bravas:  (Just South of downtown.)  Local hamburger place that puts funky toppings on.  Definitely get an order of Patatas with garlic aioli on top!

Jk O Donnell's: (Downtown) Irish pub that is a Fort Wayne classic.

Pint ‘n’ Slice: (Downtown)  Pizza by the slice place downtown. 

 This list is not exhaustive, but it is a start.  Please help us keep money in our local economy, and yours!  

Shop small, shop local, and shop fair this Christmas!  You will be helping make the world a better place. ;) 

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26 July 2015

Mira's Rainbow Party

Wanted to get Mira's 1st birthday party up on the blog, finally.   I fell in love with a rainbow theme back when I was pregnant with Levi.  I was saving it up for a girl if I ever had one.  Then I had my beautiful rainbow baby.  (A rainbow baby is a baby born after losing a child to miscarriage.  A "rainbow after the storm.")  This was the perfect theme for her, and I started working on it way before her party.  She was such a trooper for this party, missing a nap but remaining happy.  We had so, so many people in our house!  While this was probably the prettiest party I have planned, it was also the least enjoyable for me.  It was rainy and cold outside.  I felt like I was not together.  I usually love the parties, but not this time.  Everyone else seemed to have a good time, and the 14 kids in my house were screaming and laughing, having the best time.  That is most important.  Everyone was super impressed by my surprise rainbow cake.  I had so much fun making it!   Levi, our neighbor, and I made rainbow finger paints, but it was so hectic we never got to those.  And the kids were having so much fun, they did not notice I didn't have any planned activities.

Now for the details.  I decorated mostly with crepe paper to make fringe streamers.  Also made paper flowers and filled glass bottles with water and food coloring to make rainbow bottles.  I served sandwiches, and made a rainbow sandwich topping platter.  Also made a fruit rainbow platter and made marshmallow clouds.  Of course made the rainbow cake, and a mini rainbow cake for Mira's smash cake, along with chocolate cupcakes covered with rainbow sprinkles.  I made large bead rainbow necklaces  and bought tiny rainbow unicorn erasers for favors.  Lastly, I bought that adorable unicorn from an Etsy shop for Mira to love forever. :)

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02 July 2015

Levi's Jenny Lind Bed and Big Boy Room

Apparently I have a handful of people that happen upon my blog every day looking for a Jenny Lind style bed redo that I posted about on this blog post two years ago.  So it only seems fair that I do a post showing the finished product!  It took a year to paint, since I was pregnant soon after snagging the bed. Then another year to get his room clean enough for photos.  I used about 5 cans of spray paint, but really was an easy job once I got started.  I love this bed every bit as much as I thought I would!  And the best news, I found another really chunky one on a local-to-my-Dad Facebook garage sale site for $30 (I think!).  It is still at his house, so no photos.  I cannot wait to paint it some fun color for Miss Mira in another year.  Maybe I love this style too much?

Here is a tour of Levi's big boy room in our current house, with special focus on the Jenny Lind bed, all nicely painted black.  (You can see his nursery in our first house here.)

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Levi Harper Is Four

Today, my baby boy is four.  Here is the letter I wrote him for this year, and his twenty (two) questions that I started last year.  Notice any themes...haha.  (PS He was really into his Spiderman punching bag the day I asked these questions.)

1. What is your favorite color? Red
2. What is your favorite toy? Playdoh and Punching Bag 
3. What is your favorite food? Pizza
4. What is your favorite TV show or movie?  Lego Movie and Pokemon
5. What is your favorite outfit?  Hot Wheel Costume
7. What is your favorite game?  The Train Game (on smartphone)
8. Least favorite food:  Cheese Hamburgers
9. What is your favorite animal?  Giraffe
10. What is your favorite song?  Make Me Happy (aka Happy by Pharrell)
11. What is your favorite book?  Superhero Book
12. Who is your best friend?  Spiderman
13. Favorite place to go: McDonalds and Arbys
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?  Superheros
15. What is your favorite drink?   Milk and Juice and Water
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?   Animals
18. The thing you are best at is: Punching
19. If you could change your name, what would it be: Lev (pronounced Leave) or Steve
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? When I get 4, I will do chores. (What about when you are big like Mommy?)  Then I will do more chores. 
21. What do you want to do before your next birthday?  Practicing…punching Spiderman.
22. If you had $1000, what would you buy?  Minecraft

Dear Levi,

Today you are four.  This past week I have just been plain smitten with you.  Every word you say and expression you make.  You are just the most wonderful little boy and I love everything about you.  This year was fun.  You started out just loving on your baby sister.  Now you love on her and get really annoyed with her ALL. THE. TIME.  That is okay though…that is what siblings do.  You have started to throw more fits recently. That is okay too, I guess.  This year, you loved superheroes the best.  That is pretty much all you ever want to play.  Except after dinner, every night, you and Daddy play Minecraft (or MineRcraft as you call it) for 15 minutes.  Your vocabulary has skyrocketed which means you are starting to lose most of the cute things that you pronounced or connected wrong.  But right now, all your plural words still end with the –es sound. Examples: drinkes, shoes-es, giraffe-es.  I know that you will get it right soon.  You are currently enrolled in your first sport, soccer.  You like it because Daddy gets to play with you most of the time too.  Your favorite people are Daddy, Uncle Aaron, and cousin Neko.  They are all boys, and like video games and superheroes, so naturally.  You will be starting preschool this next year, and I know you will love it.  One of my favorite things you do is ninja or superhero moves.  You pretty much just flail and roll all over the floor in a very serious manner.  It is flipping hilarious.  I also love when you ask to cuddle with me at bedtime. And I really, really love the game we all play, where you say “Guess What?” I say “What?” You say “I love you.”  You are so smart and I love watching you develop into a fine boy.  I am so proud to be your Mommy.  You are my favorite boy, and I love you forever and ever.

Love, Mommy

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19 June 2015

Marley's Bedtime Story Baby Shower

I threw a "bedtime story" baby shower for my bestie....oh about a year ago.  I realized I never shared photos though!  I loved this shower, and it was pretty cheap to throw since we had all the books and stuffed animals.  And her mom brought the food.  We played a children's storybook trivia game and everyone had to make a baby out of playdoh.  Then we judged them with different categories: most realistic, creepiest, and I don't remember the other category.  Prizes were bookmarks and tea bags.  I also had guests write down a wish for baby Marley that we made into a mobile.  I also asked guests to bring a book to start baby Marley's library, well loved or new.

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