5 Out-of-the-Box Kansas City Shops to Buy Your Gifts in 2016

KC Shops

As we start the New Year, maybe we can actually follow through on our resolution to plan ahead for birthdays, holidays and especially Christmas in 2016. And even when we don’t, discovering new, local, personalized shops is always a solid goal to fulfill when gift-giving throughout the year–last minute or otherwise.

Peppermint Twist

Photo cred: Images West Photography via Peppermint Twist

In order to make our lovely KC lives a little easier this upcoming year, I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 out-of-the-box local shops to purchase all your gift-giving wonders from. And the best part is all of these stores are unique to Kansas City and contain personalized, handmade and/or restored items.

Peppermint Twist

Photo cred: Images West Photography via Peppermint Twist

Peppermint Twist. This shop is my absolute favorite local retailer for personalizing just about anything. What’s great about it is the unique items available that go along with specific holidays, events, locations, clothing or seasons that you can’t generally find at most other shops. For example, the Christmas bags pictured (that I plan to order for next year), personalized with a last name when delivering gifts to a family event or child’s name if you want to present “Santa’s bag of gifts” on Christmas morning, is one of my favorite items in the shop. I originally discovered Peppermint Twist when I received an address pillow as a gift for our first house, which I am in love with. It resembled the one pictured on the top, left–except, of course, representing a KCMO zip!

Artistic Works by Lu

Photo cred: Artistic Works by Lu

Artistic Works by Lu. If you’re looking for upscale clothing and unique jewelry, Lu is where you want to be. This studio-boutique is best defined as country roots meets urban soul, and their mission is to help women feel beautiful and confident every day. They carry a variety of jewelry designs, unique stones and material along with vintage-inspired tops, sweaters, coats, tights, scarves and boots. Lu’s is the perfect place to check out for that trendy friend or family member in your life … and even for yourself when it’s time for a little wardrobe pick-me-up.

Restoration Emporium

Photo Cred: Restoration Emporium

Restoration Emporium. Ever heard of First Fridays? If the answer is ‘no’ then I don’t know if you can consider yourself a true Kansas Citian just yet. Although this shop is open throughout the week, the first place I discovered it was in the West Bottoms on First Fridays. RE:’s motto is “re: purpose re: finish re: new” and when you enter their store, you feel like there’s a clear purpose: their furniture and decor feels beautifully meaningful and full of new life. To top it off RE: will be partnering with The Home Show of Greater Kansas City, which is one of the most awesome events of the Spring in KC–promising the return of Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV’s Fixer Upper in March!

Jowler Creek. If you’re from Kansas City, there are few towns on the outskirts you probably haven’t heard of, but this could very well be one of Jowler Creekthem: Dearborn, Missouri, just 30 minutes North of downtown KC, houses a wonderful, personable winery with an awesome outlook. They use green technologies to make their wine, sheep to keep their weeds low and chicken to bring down the insect count at this 6-acre vineyard started by a couple who were brought together by Kansas City and their love of wine. Their story is as beautiful as their boutique vineyard and winery, and if you’re looking for a great couples’ gift or wine to bring to your next event, check them out!

Westside Storey

Photo cred: Westside Storey

Westside Storey. “LOCAL GOODS and LOCAL MAKERS with ANTIQUES SPRINKLED” is their short description on Facebook, and if that doesn’t make you love this shop already, the handmade, wine-scented candles inside a restored wine bottle candle holder definitely will. Even if you don’t have any gifts to purchase just yet, this shop is well worth a visit for the quality and unique KC themed items, clothing and accessories available that you KCreally can’t find just anywhere else–perhaps a #TreatYoSelf gift? Not to mention the unique foodie selection is on point–my favorite so far being the bacon jam from Our Sassy Pantry, locally made, of course.

As you enjoy the new year and continue loving Kansas City, keep in mind local shops to make your gift giving unique and personal. Do you have any go-to local shops that you enjoy or suggest? Comment and let everyone know below!

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5 of My Favorite Mommy Gifts (Online Version)

5ofmyfavoritemommygifts

As we can all tell, after stuffing our faces full Thursday and stuffing our carts full Friday, Christmas is the next big thing we have to prep for. As I get older, my family gets larger and my life gets crazier, it’s a pretty big goal of mine to get done with shopping as early as possible, as easily as possible and as frugally as possible. It’s almost become a game to see how far in advance I can be completely ready for Christmas and to track how much money I can save in the process.

Gift giving is one of my favorite things to do because I love finding unique and personal gifts for people–holidays or not. So with that in mind and Black Friday out of the way, below is a list of a few of my favorite, unique gifts that you can, for the most part, only find online right now. Some of them are great for kids but help parents out, some are good for just parents and others are more for parents and kids to use together.Lolly + Pop

  1. Lolly + Pop. Adorable, hand-made leather bows (I might use some as bowties as well) for little ones. I love these because they’re leather, they’re simple yet elegant, and the color palette selection is gorgeous. In my experience, leather lasts longer–as far as children’s accessories or jewelry–and has a classy, unique look that you don’t find with just any material. The designer and creator for Lolly + Pop is a mom of two from NYC, who hand makes everything, which makes me love them all the more. For those who are interested for Christmas gifts or for themselves, Lolly + Pop has 40% off this Cyber Monday until midnight AND if you’re a reader of mine, feel free to use code “Homemade15” for 15% off. You really cannot beat that!
  2. Lose the Cape: Never Will I Ever (And Then I Had Kids). When I was little, I used to love reading Chicken Soup for the Soul books because they were a compilation of stories Lose the Cape - coverby real people that were relatable and made me feel warm and content. This is the same type of anthology, except for parents. Lose the Cape is full of great, funny and relatable stories from parents like you and me, and the perfect book to read while cuddling up with a blanket and warm drink throughout the winter season.
  3. Butler BootsI love these boots so much for our toddler because to me, they’re different than most boots. I can use them in rain or snow plus they slip on as boots by themselves or over other shoes because of a washable liner placed inside. This way, when my toddler’s wearing an outfit requiring shoes I IMG_6283don’t want to get wet or that don’t wear well in the snow, I can slip the boots over top and take them off when we get inside without having to hassle with sitting her down and changing her into completely different shoes. They come in several bright, fun colors–my favorite being pink and yellow.
  4. Fun Foodie Friends CookbookObviously, as parents, we have to cook on occasion. Okay, daily. Often, my children want to help, which slows me down and makes the evening Fun Foodie Friendsdinner/bedtime rush more hectic, but having a cookbook that’s both healthy and made for kids to join in on the cooking makes things much smoother, easier and helps my children learn about food and cooking while assisting with their own meals.
  5. Birchbox. This is a great way for moms (or dads) to sample and try new products across several categories–lifestyle, home & food, skincare, makeup, tools, games, etc. For most of us adults who don’t really find the time to spend on picking out new products or trying different brands, getting a monthly box of goodies is a great thing to look forward to (or a nice surprise if you forget about it like I do) and Birchbox, specifically, is a nice way to try several items before buying them to decide what works for you and what you actually like best.

On Cyber Monday, and especially once the madhouse shoppers hit in December, it’s just nice to sit back and order online. The difficulty I find when ordering online is pinpointing the gifts I think are still personal and unique while at the same time remaining well-priced with minimal–if any–shipping. This list hits all of those requirements for me; plus, all of these items either benefit me as a mother or myself and my children together. Hopefully, this list can help with your holiday gifting, as well!

#HE is pumped to be partnering with Fun Foodie Friends and Butler Boots for this post’s awesome gift list!

12 Reasons to Love Your Kansas City Roots

KC Roots

Kansas City is, literally, too much city for just one state. There are too many things to count that make the city great, but only if you’re a part of Kansas City do you truly understand why it’s so outstanding. For those who aren’t a part of Kansas City, here’s why our roots run deep, and to those who are locals, here are 12 reasons you should be proud to call Kansas City your home.

1. Contrary to Lorde’s belief, we will always be Royal. The Kansas City Royals may have their ups and downs throughout the years, but Kansas Citians always stay loyal. And it has paid off, royally. Last season, after coming back from trailing 7 to 3 in the eighth inning of a game that merely put them into the playoffs, the Royals ended up one big hit away from winning the entire World Series.

2. Because parties at Paul Rudd’s mom’s house. Paul Rudd loves himself some Kansas City Royals, too, and after the Royals won the ALCS last season, he told a local news station, “Kegger at my mom’s house!” He may have been kidding, but of course, Kansas Citians aren’t going to let him off that easy. He did redeem himself on one of David Letterman’s final shows by promising that if the Royals win the World Series this season, there will be two kegs at his mom’s house. We’ll hold you to that, Paul. For now, drinks bought by Royals’ players at Power & Light will suffice.

3. The Love Longer KC Project. If you live in Kansas City, and even if you don’t, it’s very likely you know local radio personalities Lazlo, Afentra, Jeriney, Danny Boi and the rest of the crew. The radio station, 96.5 The Buzz, is well-known for The Big Fat Morning Buzz and The Church of Lazlo, while also recently starting an amazing movement called The Love Longer KC Project. The whole movement started when Lazlo saw a billboard off I-70 that was hateful, and instead of responding negatively, 96.5 The Buzz took it upon themselves to turn to Kansas Citians via Kickstarter. Their goal was $7,000, but together, the radio station and Kansas City raised almost $20,000 to create billboards that encourage others to be kind and accepting. “Be Kind” and #LoveLonger is the message they display.

4. We take our art with a side of GIANT badminton. If you haven’t been to the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum, well, you just wouldn’t understand, but that’s just one instance of Kansas City’s passionate love of art. We also have the Plaza Art Fair, Kauffman Performing Arts Center, Starlight Theatre, Union Station, Brookside Art Fair, the Midland and the Kansas City Art Institute to culture ourselves. Creativity thrives in this city.

5. The Plaza lights at Christmas. As Christmas nears, so many communities decorate their homes, streets and buildings. It’s a warm and fuzzy time, but the plaza lights take it to a whole new level. What began as one single strand of lights in 1925 has easily become one of the greatest Christmas lighting displays in the nation. To top it all off, there’s a traditional lighting event on the Plaza every Thanksgiving, and tens of thousands of people show up to watch the kid who’s chosen at random hit the switch. Could it get any warmer and fuzzier?

6. Boulevard Brewing Company’s craft beer. Wine’s not the only thing we drink with our pinky in the air. Now one of the largest craft breweries in the U.S. and the largest specialty brewery in the Midwest, Boulevard Brewing Company is a local brewery dedicated to the production, craft and deliciousness of unique beers and brewing techniques. We don’t settle for just any old beer around Kansas City; instead, we drink the best of the best.

7. First Fridays. A seriously impressive compilation of local artists and crafty, unique goodies located in the West Bottoms of Kansas City. On the first Friday of each month, Kansas Citians gather for a great cultural, musical and thrift-ful experience. For many people, the draw isn’t just the artistry but also the history of the area, old buildings and gorgeous architecture.

8. This performance of “Kansas City” by the The New Basement Tapes and Marcus Mumford.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X3hdFWmerQ

9. We know how to get LOUD. Baseball isn’t our only strong suit–the Chiefs’ fans know how to bring it, too. Kansas City’s very own Arrowhead stadium is officially the recorder holder for loudest outdoor stadium in the world. The Chiefs received their Guinness world record spot when the noise level at Arrowhead reached a booming 142.2 decibels. Go CHIEFS!

10. We really love fountains. Every city as its own thing and Kansas City’s is fountains. They’re gorgeous, they’re unique, and they’re everywhere. When in Rome… No, actually, when in Kansas City–the city of fountains–do as the Kansas Citians do. It was profound locals like George Kessler, August Meyer and J.C. Nichols that originally envisioned and created a beautiful city with “more boulevards than Paris, more fountains than Rome.” Today, some of the most famous Kansas City fountains include J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain, Henry Wollman Bloch Fountain, Northland Fountain and Crown Center Square Fountain.

11. Kansas City BBQ. Arthur, Jack, Joe and Gates are all great friends of ours and for delicious reasons. According to Carolyn Wells, executive director of the Kansas City Barbecue Society, “The beauty of Kansas City barbecue is that you can ask ten different people to define Kansas City barbecue and you get ten different answers and they are all correct.” As any Kansas Citian will tell you, if you want to try real BBQ, come visit us.

12. Jazz music is our jam. We even have an entire Jazz District to prove it. As Kansas City Jazz took over in the 1920s, it filled the streets of 18th & Vine and made the area an essential pillar for Kansas City throughout the Depression. A few decades later the area began to decline, but eventually, Kansas Citians breathed new life into the Jazz District and nearing the 90s, it was reborn again. Now, the Jazz District maintains and represents a historical musical legend that can be heard throughout Kansas City.

5 Healthy Snack Time Favorites

5 Healthy Snack Time Favorites

The 1-year-old absolutely loving some all-natural Ruby Rocket’s, which I may add completely melted on my watch and I had to refreeze … so this pop looks NOTHING like the original shape! There is a glorious photo below, however, as well! 

With kids, I think it’s a given: there will be snacking. As much as I–as an adult–would love to be a breakfast, lunch and dinner type of gal, it’s just not really plausible when you’re on the go, working and/or constantly feeding little ones throughout the day.

The positive thing is that snacking is good fuel and it doesn’t have to mean eating unhealthy. Personally, when I think of snack, I think of the want to indulge in something like chips or sweets, but fortunately, there are ways to still feel like you’re indulging in a snack and be fueling your body in a healthy way at the same time.

Here are just a few “indulgent,” delicious and healthy snacks that I prefer for myself and little ones.

Terra Chips A much healthier version of chips made from slices of vegetables–sweet potato, parsnip, etc–and probably my favorite snack, even “chips,” hands down.

Ruby Rocket’s Veggie & Fruit Pops No added sugar is what, to me, makes this snack the absolute best. It’s all veggies and fruits. There are three kinds that I absolutely LOVE: Galaxy Green, Rock-it Red and Gravity Grape. A cool, refreshing treat on a hot day.

Ruby Rockets

Delicious and healthy Ruby Rocket’s pops. Photo Courtesy of Ruby Rocket’s!

Rice crackersOrganic Valley Raw Milk Cheese  Rice crackers and cheese are my favorite go-to for a bedtime snack if I just ate too early or stayed up too late and can’t shake the ‘need a snack’ thought as I’m tossing and turning. Protein is proven to be a helpful aid to sleep and raw milk cheese is that protein for me before bed if I need something to snack on.

Dark chocolate super bites These are just heavenly goodness. Anytime I’m craving sweets or chocolate in general, I feel more than comfortable whipping these up and enjoying. These super bites often double as dessert, as well. and are probably one of my kids’ absolute favorite.

dark-chocolate-detox-bites-8

Photo courtesy of The View from Great Island

Edit: I had to add a fifth favorite that had completely slipped my mind until so many commented and mentioned it!

Hummus or Guacamole Amazing and healthy. I try to do these dips with veggies like carrots, celery and cucumbers, primarily, but hummus is also SO good with naan and guacamole with homemade tortilla chips.

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Disclosure: I received one of the products mentioned above for free with the hope that I would mention it on my blog. I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and that I consistently use or believe in, personally.

Rosemary-Mint Latte

My newest, and currently favorite, latte invention is a rosemary-mint latte. The ingredients are simple, probably already in your home and very inexpensive if they’re not. The rosemary-mint syrup is quick to make and will last a solid week or two (depending on how addicted to coffee you are).

Below is a photo of everything you’ll need + whatever “creamer” you use–whether that be skim milk, whole milk, coconut milk, packaged creamer, soy, whatever. I omitted that from the photo since that’s generally very specific to whoever’s making the latte!

rosemary-mint latte

 

Ingredients for Latte

2-3 ice cubes for iced latte
1/2 cup of coffee
1/4 cup of rosemary-mint syrup [ingredients/directions for syrup below]
Spritz of milk/creamer–optional
Coffee mug

Directions

  • Grab your mug and throw in the ice cubes if you’re making an iced latte
  • Pour the coffee and rosemary-mint syrup, and mix
  • Add spritz of milk (creamer)

Ingredients for Rosemary-Mint Syrup

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
1 sprig of rosemary
2 sprigs of mint
Mason jar–or sealable container–to store excess

Directions

  • Mix sugar and water in a pan over medium-heat until sugar begins to dissolve
  • Throw in rosemary and mint and stir for approximately one minute
  • Pour into a mason jar to save for continued use

 

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99 problems but a spill ain’t one… [GIVEAWAY]

Mighty Mug

One of my fears–before and especially after kids–is having my [insert super expensive electronic, piece of clothing, family heirloom here] on the same surface as any drink and SPILLING the stain-making, life-ruining liquid all over it.

So far, I’ve been watchful (or lucky) enough that I’ve managed to avoid spilling my drinks onto something expensive. However, there have been plenty of times where a drink has spilled on the coffee table, onto the floor, off the nightstand, out of the car cupholder and so many other various places.

Recently, I was told about a mug called the Mighty Mug that DOES NOT spill. At first, that sounded more like a challenge to me than a real possibility. But then, this happened…

And sold! So, if you tend to be a klutz, if you have kids, own electronics or just don’t want to clean up another spill, your solution has arrived.

If you want your own Mighty Mug or want to check out their site, click here.

As an awesome start to your week, HE has teamed up with Mighty Mug to give you the opportunity to be spill-free too!

Click below to enter the giveaway!

Giveaway

Giveaway ends Wednesday.

Disclosure: I received the product mentioned above for free with the hope that I would mention it on my blog. I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and that I consistently use personally.

6 Things That Are Making Your Lifestyle Change Fail

Lifestyle Change

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, FrasierElliot.

We’ve all seen the lists on Pinterest and in endless articles about ‘making your lifestyle change stick’ or ‘the best ways to make a lifestyle change,’ but the truth is so many of the items on those lists are bull.

If you want to make a lifestyle change–which literally means to permanently change your life–not only do you have to want it, you also have to decide to do it, regardless of what that takes. A lifestyle change is long-term not short-term. It’s not a diet or a fad, and if you go into it with the mindset that you’re only doing it to reach a goal and then you can reevaluate, you’re never going to reach your goal.

The daunting truth is that it’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be fun, and every ounce of your being is going to fight you every step of the way. So many lifestyle changes fail because people don’t realize that and inevitably don’t want to embrace the bad to reach the good. It’s a process, and you have to learn–mind over body.

It’s so much easier to complain, make excuses and promise ourselves we’ll start tomorrow or next month or next year. I hate to break it to you, but if you’re doing that, you’ll never move forward. Our minds are powerful; they can create excuses or they can overcome excuses–the decision is ours.

“Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring,” and if you’re not willing to endure, you won’t achieve. It’s that simple. If you’re already second guessing yourself, trying to negotiate with yourself or looking up articles to find meaningless inspiration, you have not decided to change yet.

Whether you’ve made your decision or not, my guess is you’re reading this because you want something to change in your life. Here are 6 things that you’re generally told to do that might actually be causing your lifestyle change to fail.

1. Finding your motivation. You don’t need to go searching for motivation. Your motivation is you. Yes, I want to have a better body for my husband. I want to stay around as long as possible for my kids. I want to inspire some and not give others the satisfaction of having something to gossip about. Whether I make a lifestyle change or not, the reality is all of those things still exist. My husband and kids will still be around, I can still be inspiring, and people will always find something to talk about. If you’re not changing ultimately for yourself, if the foundation of your decision isn’t to make your life better or yourself happier, it probably won’t stick for long.

2. Take it slow. No, find what works best for you. If that’s dipping your toes in, great. If that’s finding a balance, do it. But some people are the cold turkey, cannon ball into the pool type of people, and that’s okay too. Each approach has its pros and cons and is difficult in its own way. It’s about knowing what you can handle best. If that’s making one small change every month for a year and having to adjust each month throughout, that can work. Or if that’s making all your changes at once and having to push really hard right out of the gate, that works too.

3. Find a support system. Yes and no. A foundation is key to building yourself up, yes. Does that mean you have to have other people holding your hand and making the exact same changes with you? No. Sometimes it means cutting people out of your life who are making holes in your foundation. It can also mean you may just need to come to an understanding with others around you to strengthen your relationships. If you choose to stop eating meat, not everyone you know needs to become a vegetarian, but it does mean those you’re around should at most be encouraging and at least not be that person who’s telling you it doesn’t matter if you give in just once. If you’ve already made the decision to move forward with your lifestyle change, it won’t matter if you’re in a group of people doing it with you or if you simply make adjustments to your environment that are conducive to your changing.

4. Keep a journal. Like #2, this is one of those things that works well for some and completely botches the process for others. If you find yourself struggling to reach your goals or forgetting what you have done or should be doing, keeping track may be good for you. However, this may just be extra stress for others. If you’re a Type A person who’s already super organized and keeps track of everything but you’re still stuck, you may just need to throw it out the window, stop tracking and stop stressing over every little detail.

5. Embrace your mistakes. Or reward yourself. These go hand in hand. Don’t get me wrong, you will have mistakes, and that’s normal. And you should be proud of yourself if you’re doing well. What’s not smart is to constantly tell yourself that mistakes are okay or to reward yourself by giving in on a routine basis. That’s a dangerous habit to start, and it unravels the mindset of a lifestyle change. Special occasions are special for a reason; cheat days are just cheating.

6. Set goals. Goals can be good to an extent, but if you’re constantly fighting tooth and nail to hit a goal every week or every month, or if you’re only working towards obtaining some unicorn of a goal, it begins to cloud the whole reason you’re changing your lifestyle. Have goals, but ultimately aim for change and betterment. Even if you don’t hit every goal, it’s important to continue moving forward and changing for yourself. Goals are great surface motivation but don’t deprive yourself or focus on them too much.

If that list didn’t give you what you need to start changing your life, maybe Shia can with his real message and slightly comical delivery. I’m with him though. DO IT. 

 

Feel free to share your experience, tips and struggles in the comments below!

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