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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The 10 Gifts Mom Bloggers Really Want For Christmas

 

Gifts, Christmas, Mom bloggers

As moms and as bloggers, there are plenty of things that run through our mind. Many of which get an “Oh, wouldn’t that be nice” and are promptly filed away in our brain as unattainable and forgotten. Well, I think it’s time to do what we do best: compile a list. This list, specifically, consists of all the things we really want for Christmas. And if anyone reading it is able to make it happen, I’d call you Santa, I’d call you Saint Nicholas… honestly, I’d call you anything you want.

Canva

So, if you’re curious what the mom bloggers in your life actually want for Christmas, check out this list:

  1. Canva to have an app for phones. If you haven’t used or heard of Canva to create your designs, pull your head out from under a rock and check it out! It’s such a simple and quality way to create awesome images for your posts and they have so many free options. There’s also the option to purchase some designs for $1. Either way, it’s a win, and if I could access it on my phone, I would be unstoppable via mobile. You can be happy that I did receive the response in the photo above from Canva when posting this request via Twitter. Click on the photo to go to their suggest-an-idea page and suggest it!
  2. The ability to schedule texts. As a blogger and social media manager, I’ve gotten in the habit of scheduling E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. I make calendars for content an entire month in advance. I schedule posts weeks in advance. I schedule social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) posts days in advance. Basically, the second I think of something, I either set a reminder in a calendar or schedule it. Otherwise, there’s a certainty possibility I’ll forget. Lately, I think of a text I want to send someone but it’s either too late or not appropriate at the moment and all I want is the ability to schedule the text ahead of time like I would a reminder or a post.
  3. A tool that will preschedule across ALL social media platforms. No, it doesn’t openly exist yet. And you know what? I’d even be willing to pay for it. I said it. I would pay money for a tool that allowed me to schedule my posts across every single one of my social media platforms. I’m so tired of going from tab to tab and app to app to schedule posts to all of my platforms because there’s no tool that encompasses any and all platforms I want to promote on. Come on, creators! It’s almost 2016, and it’s time we have the option readily available. Bonus points if this tool includes tracking, statistics and engagement charts.
  4. The ability to “like” as much as we want on Facebook without receiving the infamous like ban. I’m a social person. I run both my blog and a growing company’s social media sites. I “like” things A LOT. And although I have strategically avoided the dreaded like ban, I think there needs to be some appeal process in place that allows those of us with legitimate promotional marketing strategies to heighten our “like” quota, within reason.
  5. A discount on Adobe–InDesign or Photoshop, specifically–products. Students and teachers get discounts. They get HUGE discounts, as a matter of fact (60% to be exact). And you know what? I’ll be damned if moms who blog don’t deserve a discount too.
  6. A photography class. Seriously, if there’s one thing on this list YOU as the reader can legitimately buy the mom blogger in your life, it’s a photography class at your local college or studio. Get on Groupon or just skim over some local college websites, and if they’re offering a beginner or general photography class, we would be so impressed with the person who gifted it to us. It’s something we all want to improve upon but one of the last things on our list to invest in.
  7. A photogenic house. Yes, the messiness is great for the posts where we reach out to other parents who deal with crazy children who are also terrorizing lives and homes, but once in a great while, it would be nice to be able to snap a photo of a picture-perfect, decorated home. No toys, no laundry strewn throughout, no food splattered on all the surfaces. Maybe just hire me a cleaning service for a month. I can’t speak for all mom bloggers, but I promise you that I, personally, will not be offended.
  8. More time. There’s never enough of it. By the time we take care of our children, try to keep our house under control, fix a few meals, possibly work or run errands (and also attempt to create a coherent post), it’s 12:10 a.m. and we still haven’t had time to finish putting away laundry, respond to 1/3 of our texts or finish any of the other 99 errands/tasks we have left to complete.
  9. To not have our greatest ideas come to us in the shower or at 1 a.m. At some point in my life, I’m going to need to sleep more than three hours a night, and as long as my creative juices flow at 1 a.m. and my children awake anywhere between 5 and 7 a.m., that’s not a possibility. If you want to offer babysitting services from the moment our children wake up until around 9 or 10 a.m., we’d be forever grateful. A waterproof iPad case and suction cup display for the shower would also suffice because shower time is about the only other time we get to think coherent thoughts by ourselves, and even that is hit or miss.
  10. An appreciation. So many times, I think we’re ashamed to tell people what we do because most people really don’t understand. They think we write some stuff and press publish, but the reality is–just like any profession–we put a lot of effort into what we do. The content is one thing, but there’s also the research that goes into the content, creating images, promotion, interactions, emails, tracking statistics, finances, design, HTML, SEO, website specifics, ads and the list goes on. We’re essentially running our own business, and although it may be much more plausible than a single person running a large company by themselves, it’s still quite an undertaking. Just taking the time to think about and recognize that is much appreciated.

Whether you’re a mom blogger or not, what do you really want for Christmas this year? Comment below and tell everyone about it!

Might I also add, drinking a cup of coffee while it’s actually still hot would be nice, too, but I’m willing to overlook that for any of the ten above.

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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!

What Moms Actually Want for Mother’s Day

I hate to say it but to be completely honest, the thing most moms want for Mother’s Day is to not be a mom for a day. Lucky for you–who’s reading this hoping to find legitimate Mother’s Day ideas and maybe some laughter … but complete seriousness–that generally will cost you nothing, monetarily.

1. To sleep in. And by sleep in, I don’t mean mom kicks dad when the baby wakes and dad goes to get the baby. I mean mom doesn’t even hear a baby wake up and doesn’t wake up, herself, until her body naturally wakes her up. This also means that breakfast in bed comes after mom’s already awake.

2. To cause dad pain. Most of us moms would gladly settle for the satisfaction and awesomeness of watching dad go through labor too.

3. To not clean anything. And that doesn’t mean the house just doesn’t get cleaned again until after Mother’s day. That means mom is not the one cleaning it.

4. To not cook anything. Once again, that doesn’t mean everyone starves for the day–just that mom’s not the one preparing food.

5. To be cuddled. By either the kid(s) or the husband. This means no talking, no expectations, no rolling of the eyes. Just cuddling, dammit.

6. To eat whatever we want to eat. With no judgment.

7. To not go on a family outing. The effort and idea is sweet, but I think I speak for most moms when I tell you that a family outing may be enjoyable but they are not relaxing. And they are not about mom.

8. To just be alone. I think most moms wouldn’t be one bit upset if dad scooped up the kids and took them far, far away for a day. Like a whole day–not just a couple hours.

9. To be pampered. Massages, hair cuts, mani/pedis, even just a long, hot shower–it’s all fair game. And it’s a glorious, rare treat.

10. To not even see a diaper or children’s potty. Because, moms everywhere would like just one day where the words, “Did you poop yet?” or “Ew” do not come out of our mouth at all.

This post is most relevant to Mother’s Day but is also valid for a birthday, anniversary, Christmas and Valentine’s Day too. Moms, anything you’d like to add?

 

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Why I can appreciate the one-year-old’s birthday list email

Let me preface this post by expressing that I more than understand why this email seems rude and entitled. A gift is a gift is a gift, and the fact that someone put any thought, time, effort and money into giving a gift is more than enough in itself. That being said, I can appreciate this email and let me tell you why.

Birthday List

Anytime there’s a holiday, birthday or gift-giving event approaching, I find myself asking or being asked repeatedly, “What do you want … What do you need … What’s a good gift for [child]?” but rarely do I ever get–or give for that matter–a straightforward, helpful answer.

Because of this, I’m often left bouncing off the aisles at Target or entering search after search on Amazon trying to find something I hope the gift receiver can appreciate. However, if we’re all being honest with ourselves when we play the gift-guessing game, unless we’re with the person we’re shopping for on a daily basis, we probably haven’t picked up on all the little things they need or appreciate day in and day out.

Cut to the gift opening: I can honestly say the majority of holidays, events, parties, showers and birthdays I’ve been to have resulted in at least one duplicate gift and who knows how many other gifts that were never used or immediately returned. Personally, I don’t enjoy living in a false reality where I pretend like my gift was truly appreciated. When I go into a gift-giving situation blind, I leave hoping my gift wasn’t one of the duplicates, re-gifts or returns but I’ll never know to be honest. That sucks.

And that is exactly why I can appreciate this woman’s email. The majority of people who are going to get you, or someone close to you, a gift try to find out beforehand what they want, need or like. The woman hands you the golden ticket to the correct gifts in her email.

The next question that always pops into my mind–if I happen to actually find out or know what a person wants–is, “What if someone else already got it for them?” Guess what … the woman split up her gift list so there’s no second-guessing, and I think it’s convenient she let everyone know that. You’re welcome. Gift-buy in peace.

Finally, this woman confronted, admitted and put into words what we’ve ALL done–returned a gift [GASP IN HORROR]–and for some reason, everyone’s offended by that. Personally, I’m glad she said it. She just saved people from potentially wasting their time and money, because whether we like it or not, she’s right. If she or anyone else returns a gift and doesn’t have a receipt, the gift-giver potentially just wasted a chunk of their money.

What’s that? “Don’t return the gift and be grateful you got anything at all,” you say? You’re right–that’s a fair argument, in which case the gift never gets used and you’ve wasted all of your time and money.

So, is this letter slightly tacky, overboard, rude and/or entitled? Perhaps, especially in our society, it’s definitely not a social norm. Sometimes people get offended–myself included–and I can see how this email offends, easily.  From my perspective though, this woman is just being honest and to the point. I. Appreciate. That. It’s refreshing and rare.

I’m sure people asked her what to get her daughter for her birthday, so she made a list. She told people what they already had too much of, and she admitted that if it was a gift they couldn’t use, they would have to return it. We all know those things to be truths in our own households, whether we tell them to other people or not. I can’t be mad when someone has the gull to answer a question in the most straightforward manner possible and ask for exactly what they need/want.

And that’s why I can appreciate this one-year-old’s birthday list email. What are your thoughts? Do you agree or are you just absolutely appalled by the email?