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 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.


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.

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 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.

Benefits of Slings/Wraps


Photo and sling made by Valdar Loves

I want to talk about wonderful ring slings and their benefits for baby and mom.

Parental Benefits

  • Slings are convenient, plain and simple
  • They allow mom (or dad) to keep baby close while remaining hands free and able to multitask
  • For the same reason (remaining hands free and able to multitask), slings are also helpful with multiple children
  • Wearing baby can burn around 300 calories, daily
  • Breastfeeding is easy and convenient while sling-wearing … slings also make it possible to stay covered while breastfeeding in public

Babies’ Benefits

  • Babies cry less and are much easier to comfort or soothe to sleep in a sling–it’s documented they cry up to 50% less on average
  • Because slings prevent crying and more fits, this allows babies to more often be in a state referred to as ‘quiet alertness’, which helps them to learn and observe their environment
  • Slings keep babies against the body which helps balance babies’ overall being outside the womb the same as mothers’ movement, rhythm, sounds, etc. do while they’re developing in the womb
  • Better digestion from the constant, gentle tummy pressure
  • “When a baby is touched with warmth and care [sling-wearing], the brain is flooded with hormones. These enable the child to form the brain connections he or she will need to develop feelings of warmth, love and empathy towards others.”–Brainwave Trust PDF

We recently purchased a beautiful Wrap Conversion Ring Sling. I’m so excited to start using it with our soon-to-be newborn and wanted to get the word out for any moms who are wanting to find a carrier.

Update: Although I had a positive experience purchasing my sling from Valdar Loves Etsy Shop (which no longer exists under the same name), I’ve recently seen several bad reviews on that specific shop of mothers saying they were scammed. So for mamas looking for a wrap/sling or combo, proceed with caution if you go through Katherine Stewart/Valdar Loves. I can’t speak personally from a bad place because I did have a positive experience, but there are several, literally hundreds of women, who have created groups and posts to share how they believe they were scammed or how it took several weeks to get their order.

Canon PIXMA MG5420 Review


I’m posting a review on the printer, Canon PIXMA MG5420 for two reasons:

  1. I had a bad experience with this printer and was extremely unsatisfied with little to no resolve or support from Canon.
  2. I feel I’ve had my review biased-ly rejected on Canon’s website, twice now, even after following their review guidelines.

This is my review:
“For several reasons, I was very unsatisfied with this printer. I had it barely over a year, and it stopped working. It remained in my personal home office, used only by me, and the proper care instructions were followed to a tee. It was rarely used even weekly, so it was not overused. On top of that, the ink could last through maybe 20-40 pages of simple black and white printing before running low, which also progressively got worse the longer I had the printer. When I called to find out more about the printer error, the only thing Customer Service could tell me is I had to pay to have it repaired [which would “cost at least $50, probably more”] or by a new one. I’m kicking myself for not getting an extended warranty, but in my opinion if you take perfect care of something, it should not stop working after barely a year. That, to me, shows bad quality. Very, very unsatisfied.”

I left the part in italics out of the review, above, that I originally tried to submit on Canon’s website, due to Canon’s guidelines.

Another major con that I didn’t include in my original review was that buying the ink for the printer each time was almost just as expensive as the original printer itself. This printer is $80 on Amazon, and the ink is between $50-$60.
That’s something I’ll admit we should’ve done more research on before purchasing the printer, but hopefully that info can help someone else looking into buying it.

Feel free to comment below if you’ve owned the Canon PIXMA MG5420 or if you have suggestions, pros or cons on a specific printer. We are, obviously, looking around for a new printer–preferably not Canon!



Upcycled Woodworks

This is a review for Upcycled Woodworks:

5 out of 5 stars 

Coffee TableI was sent a beautiful, handmade coffee table as a wedding gift that I’d registered for on Etsy from Upcycled Woodworks. They specialize in custom pallet wood furniture and decor for your home. Really beautiful stuff.

Unfortunately, either someone during the delivery process or some lowly person moseying by our home decided they would rather take our 50 lb packaged coffee table for themselves. So, a couple weeks after it was supposed to arrive, we were left wondering, “Where is it and why is it taking so long to get here?”

After contacting Upcylced Woodworks, we realized it was showing up as delivered, so I went into detective mode calling FedEx to fight my way through transfers from person to person to person and ridiculously long amounts of waiting in between. After being told something different from every person I talked to and never once receiving a callback from any person who promised one, I eventually dug up the info to call our local sorting facility and had them contact the driver. He said he was “100% positive he delivered it to the correct house”, so the only thing FedEx would do after that was say the sender (Upcycled Woodworks) had to file a claim and take care of it on their end.

When I relayed this info to Upcycled Woodworks, they interestingly enough had been told the EXACT OPPOSITE by FedEx and could barely get anyone to return their calls as well. So after over a month, between myself and Upcycled Woodworks, having to stay on top of FedEx weekly and sometimes daily, they were finally able to get their claim approved, reimbursed and send me a new coffee table.

This story is important to my review of Upcycled Woodworks because most businesses (and even people) that I know wouldn’t have dealt with this difficult and tedious of a situation. Regardless of how long it took or how hard it was, they still got it done and went out of their way to make sure I received the product I was originally supposed to receive. They even threw in a free set of wood pallet coasters, even though none of this was their fault by any means.

I really respect when a business shows they care about their customers. And to top it off, they’re a small, personal business that makes their own items, which are absolutely beautiful, custom and fairly priced.

Definitely check them out for some new home decor, furniture or even a unique gift idea now or in the future.

Upcycled Woodworks

This is a picture of our awesome custom coffee table (before the trough was decorated) with a wood pallet coaster in the corner. Click to visit Upcycled Woodworks’ shop!

You can visit Upcycled Woodworks’ shop by clicking the links or picture above.
You can visit Upcycled Woodworks’ Facebook page here.
You can read other reviews on Upcycled Woodworks here.


Student’s University of Georgia Build-A-Bear Survey

Click this image to go the survey.

Here’s a chance to do a review of your own…
This is a survey being done by a student at the University of Georgia, and I more than want to help her out because
1. She’s a college student, obviously working hard to finish her education
2. She’s doing primary research
3. This helps and targets mothers (parents) and young children

So, please read through what she has to say below if you want but definitely take the survey!

My name is Channing Jones, and I am a senior undergraduate student studying advertising at the University of Georgia. As part of our capstone advertising campaigns class, we are responsible for developing a full advertising campaign for our client. Part of this includes conducting primary research.

We are working with the corporate office at Build-A-Bear and our target is mothers with young children … we wanted to reach out to you … All answers and information will be treated anonymously and will not be published. We believe you … could provide us with some valuable insights into your demographic that would help us and Build-A-Bear better cater to your needs.”

Click here to take the survey!