This year more than ever it matters that we remember our small, local businesses this holiday season. As a former boutique owner myself, I know that it takes your community to keep you going. Here are nine of my favorite small, Indiana based businesses and my favorite Christmas gift ideas from each one!
1. Abboo Candle Company - Abboo's clean burning soy candles are my favorite! They burn so well, are hand poured with love by a momma of two, and the neutral colored wax matches any space you want to put your candles in. Use code TEACHERMOMLIFE for 15% off!
2. Imy's Joy - Sarah is a mom and Indiana-based maker that handletters most of her unique items from shirts, stickers, signs, and bags her items are uplifting and positive little pieces of happiness!
3. Jack's Donuts - I am telling you these are the best donuts around and I love their family even more! Find a location near you, get some swag, a gift card or just leave donuts at someone's doorstep this season. Their iced Bavarian cream, pictured above, is my favorite, just ahead of their tiger tail donut holes.
4. Style Up Buttercup - Claire, a Purdue freshman, handmakes her spunky earrings to help her finance her first year at college. She is a sweet young lady that creates beautiful, lightweight jewelry.
5. Cream & Concrete - This collection is simple, sophisticated beauty. I have been eyeing these coasters for over a year and I am so glad I finally got my hands on a set.
6. Simple Goodness Soaps - I found these soaps and lotions at a local market, and they have become my fast favorite. When I was pregnant with both of my boys it was the only product that soothed my sensitive skin. Add in their amazing scents and I am sold on this Elwood based store. Blackberry is my new favorite.
7. United State of Indiana - I have been a longtime fan of USI, but this sweatshirt is my favorite. I adore Schitt's Creek and it is some comfortable. In fact, I get compliments every time I wear it in public.
8. Schakolad Chocolate - I met the owners of Indy's Westside location at a market and I was so impressed with how kind they were. Soon after I went in to gift a friend her favorite wine dipped in chocolate. The detail and time they put into making it perfect has made me a huge fan. For Christmas I asked my husband to make a trip here for my gift!
9. Spiffy and Splendid - Located in Noblesville, IN, this maker is one I hunt down at all the local markets. Her druzzy earrings are lightweight and so pretty. This necklace is such a fun accessory for anyone on your holiday shopping list!
Even if you're not a Hoosier, many of these items can be mailed to you! Small business, BIG LOVE!
We cannot create observers by saying 'observe', but by giving them the power and the means for this observation and these means are procured through education of the senses.
– Dr. Maria Montessori
Lately, my favorite tiny humans and I have been exploring life up close with the IQCREW by AmScope 120X – 1200X Kid’s 85+ piece Premium Microscope, Color Camera and Interactive Kid’s Friendly Software. Thankfully, the kit comes in a carrying case so I can bring it between school and home. My favorite part of this microscope is that while it is geared towards kids, it is not a toy. Instead, it is a real microscope that is kid-friendly! My sons and students get real-life experience with high-quality science equipment. It makes my inner Montessori-loving, early childhood educator side so happy!
At home, my son enjoys putting on his lab coat and viewing samples through the eyepiece. He may be only four, but he has already mastered switching out AmScope’s pre-created slides and looking at the slides we have created together. In fact, when we start eLearning at home next week, I plan to let him explore the brine shrimp hatchery for his science time. He has been talking about our upcoming experiment nonstop.
At school, my students have gotten to make firsthand observations of the microscopic world through the full color digital camera that replaces the eyepiece tube and connects to my computer. I can project it to my class and everyone can participate safely. With the editing tools, we can put notes on an image, crop it, add stamps and save selections or whole images to revisit later. As we transition to eLearning, I plan to app share the software to continue fostering my firsties’ love for science. When students are excited about learning, you don’t want to lose momentum—and it can be a great tool to make them want to come to live classes. That’s right, I am going to reward them by more learning. Win-win!
Overall, it has been a magical learning tool disguised as a toy! The full product description with a list of all items included in the kit can be found on AmScope’s website. The AmScope Kids Premium Microscope is available for purchase directly on the website.
Confession: Changing a light fixture to update a room never crossed my mind as a task I was willing to take on. It seemed to tick two boxes that landed it on my Nope List: complicated and expensive. Then I fell in love with LNC Home Farmhouse Chandeliers and I just knew I had to find a way to make this happen; so I did the first thing I always do when I am about to take on a big goal: I asked my husband to give me a push. Did he think I could do it? Would he be willing to help only if I really needed it? Would he still love me if I messed up and caused us to lose electricity throughout the whole house (I now know that is not really a risk one takes when replacing a ceiling light, but I still had to quiet my rational and irrational fears). And just as I expected him to do, and part of the reason why I asked him in the first place, he gave me that nudge I needed to click Add to Cart.
Now I have not one, but two new light fixtures in my house. Both lights in my kitchen needed to match after all! You can click here to read about my first adventure.
If you follow me close enough to read this blog you know that I am an average midwestern, teacher mom and I do not specialize in DIYs and home makeover. Basically, if I can do it after 30 minutes on Pinterest and YouTube, you can do it, too! The hardest part of installing the newest light (since I figured out how to purchase light bulbs with the first one) was reaching the fixture comfortably to do the install. If my ladder had one more step I would have been golden, but alas I have three ladders, two are too tall and one is too short. (insert something witty about Goldilocks here-ha!) Forty-five minutes and a few times yelling for my husband to grab something I dropped later I had installed my second light fixture in my dinning room/office area. I honestly cannot get over the amount of character these light fixtures have added to this area. It has been an affordable, simple DIY that has totally transformed our space.
Our home and space may be tiny and littered with toys, but that has not stopped us from making our starter home a beautiful space we are proud of while we save up for our dream home. I know in the world of Instagram it is different to have a decor account without the dream home everyone aspires to own, but my hope is to inspire others to make whatever space and budget they have dreamy. As you can see in our mini reel home tour we have taken atypical approaches to how we use our space and we have to be intentional about every square foot as we have none to spare. However, inside this space is exactly what we need to have a life we love. We have big dreams, but we are also satisfied.
Earlier this month amid full swing back-to-school season I decided I was going to change the light fixture in my kitchen. Friends, when I first visited the LNC Home website I was so intimidated. I wanted nearly everything in their collection, but I didn’t trust myself to install anything except one of their rugs-ha. My DIY journey up until yesterday has been mostly crafts, glitter, and chalk paint mixed with some peel and stick tile. I also have really mucked up some of these past baby-DIY adventures (bathroom sink painting debacle I’m looking at you). I certainly hadn’t ventured in the land of lighting and electrical wires. So naturally before I committed to anything I dove deep into Pinterest tutorials and tried to hype myself up. Afterall I can do anything--except reach the top shelf. I can’t do that.
So after a mini hype session of one I did it! I clicked add to cart and continued to stalk the mailman for a few days awaiting its arrival. Finally I had a box in front of me and it was my defining moment..or at least time to open her up. The hardest part? Choosing which light bulb I would use. Seriously there are way too many light bulb options. I picked a light bulb 30% on my own and I installed the light fixture 73% on my own. I’m giving the employee at the hardware store 70% of the light bulb selection process and I am giving my husband 27% credit for the installation because he surprised me by uninstalling the previous light fixture when I was on the bulb shopping odyssey. It was a sweet surprise! I also have to give him additional credit because there became a point where he had a significant height advantage on me. I could have done that part by myself if my ladder had an extra step.
The best part is that this little project took under an hour and totally transformed the room. My whole tiny kitchen looks fresh and exciting. This detail was the exclamation mark I needed on my previous DIY adventures. It’s hard to describe how big of a difference this one feature made in the entire space so check out the pictures below for yourself! I can also change it up with a multitude of edison light bulb options.
I still do not consider myself a DIY pro, but now I want to go change all the light fixtures! I also strongly believe that I deserve some type of adulting award for this adventure. However, in all honesty friends, if I can do it so can you. Remember that I will be here to cheer you on and get started by checking out LNC Home’s beautiful collection of unique farmhouse light fixtures (https://www.lnchome.com/collections/farmhouse-chandeliers). Kelly, their founder, is a hard working momma whose mission is to make sure luxurious and beautifully-designed home decor pieces are accessible to everyone.
I can’t wait to show you what I decide to update next!
I have been coloring my poor hair since 7th grade. Remember when highlights were in style? Or better yet, getting your hair "highlighted" so often it looks colored a yellowy blonde ALL OVER...ooh the good ole' days.
Anyway, in college I decided to color my hair all shades of brown, purple-brown, once it accidentally turned out black and cried, paid a ridiculous amount to get it "corrected" after having to cut it all off to make that process more affordable, and then wanted to hide in my apartment instead of leaving my house...basically all the typical rights of passage.
Now friends I'm over it. It costs way too much to go to the salon (not picking on stylists, please don't yell at me--I just have tiny humans that want to eat every single day), you get shamed to death for using box color, and it all adds up. Plus, I think I'd really like to know what my natural color is. I'm well aware that I'm making this decision just in time to start going gray...but we'll cross that bridge next. I made a goal in August that I was going to stop coloring my hair and I have stuck to it! Whoop whoop! However, around December my hair looked like a HOT MESS! More so than my day-to-day hot mess. Insert Keracolor--the product I used last summer to keep up my purple dye (oh, that happens in the summers, too...I will miss it this summer). I got the brown tone and my hair has a light filter of brown color I can transition out while my hair continues to grow out. My hope is to slowly use less and less Keracolor as my hair gets longer then cut off the rest of the older colored hair at the bottom this summer! I'll be sure to post updates!
Review - Ritual Vitamins
After almost a year of being curious, I took the plunge and tried Ritual Vitamins.
For some magical reason I have no issues making the habit of taking them, they have an amazing minty taste, and I've noticed in my energy since starting them--something even more magical after years of battling hypothyroidism and trying to find a fix. Obviously you need to speak with your doctor before taking something new, but these vitamins have my seal of approval at this point. I also have a link for $15 off your first order, so I had to share!
Shop Small - TF Publishing
I am obsessed with planners, notebooks, flair pens, and anything else that gives me the allusion of being organized.
To be honest, it is not because I am Type A...it is because I manage my anxiety and put my worries away by getting things out of my head and on to paper. Then when I've mapped out my lists and planned my schedule for the upcoming week I can push them all out of my mind and put it down. Lists and planning are my coping skill and I've embraced it.
So since this is such a huge part of my life, why not make it beautiful!? (Insert flair pens, stickers and pretty patterns here).
I also love shopping small since my husband and I used to own our own family business that I continue to run on a smaller-scale on my own. I know that when I shop local and shop small I am putting money back into my community and helping families like mine in a big way!
Enter TF Publishing! I found an Indy based company that makes my favorite things in the world! Their planners, notebooks, and calendars are adorable and affordable on a teacher budget!
Be sure to check them out!
August is all about a summer of preparation to make it to the first week which is inevitably about survival.
I am not going to tell you how to survive the first week in the classroom, I am going to tell you how to survive the first week as a human.
First, I have to recommend Downlite bedding! Think of amazing hotel bedding and then put it in your own home. Boom! Magic.
Better yet, since they love teachers they've given me a code to share with my followers to take 15% off everything at Downlite Bedding Company. Use code DYGEN15 to treat yourself to a great nightâs sleep! ðð¼
Let's keep going!
Great day shoes...I have always sworn that Sketchers go walk shoes are the ugliest, most comfiest teacher shoes out there and I think they heard me because they finally made a cute pair! I have plantar-fascia because the universe sometimes hates me and these have been such a relief! Whoop whoop! Click below if you want to check them out.
â Remember as an Amazon associate I get a small amount for qualifying purchases and it doesn't cost you any more. Win-win!
Great night shoes...or day shoes..I'm not here to judge and before I found the awesome memory foam shoes above I kept a pair under my classroom desk. The students thought it was hilarious.
Below I give you extra, fashionista, and adult-a
âand my favorite ADULTING STICKERS for you and your teammates.
I have always enjoyed blogging. I've had boring blogs about my personal life through high school and college, blogs about teaching, and a less glamorous one about loss. My biggest struggle with blogging has been that I am an eclectic person. If I were to ever create a blog that was helpful to anyone other than myself I would have to pick a subject and stick to it. That just doesn't work for me--I tend to dabble in everything. One year ago I was taking a casual online course on creating a decor Instagram feed (my husband and I own a small decor boutique) but in the past few months I've been bouncing between motherhood and teaching. As always, I can't pick a lane.
I can't explain when fitting in a box became the goal. I think I just needed my thing as a person and the reality is that I don't have a box. Once I let go of that idea of the having a perfect little theme to my life the real idea occurred to me. I am a teacher. I am a mother. I am a person of my own, too. This is the life I should talk about. This is area I need to reflect on and others might need a community for as well. This is it. This is my most authentic endeavor. Maybe...
Then this morning I am attempting to work--because as a teacher (and other professions, just speaking to what I know here), you always take your work home. My toddler needed some serious mommy time. He's been acting out a bit, he was over-tired and quick to tears and finally sat beside me and hugged my arm. Okay. I can work one handed.
Then the baby got fussy. Nothing was helping that because I am not his father..baby guy plays favorites. I put him on my other side and attempted to sooth him. Picked him up and attempted to sooth him. (This list could go on for days). Eventually when nothing was working I sat him down beside me again.
Here I was with one child hugging my arm, another crying and kicking beside me, and my laptop in my lap...waiting for me to get somethings done AKA pour more of myself into other tiny humans.
You guys I was empty. I had nothing to give anyone. Hot tears came and did not stop...in fact they are creeping back as I type. My husband found us there. The toddler complaining about the show that was on, the baby kicking and crying, and me in a total state of sensory overload with tears and mascara running down my face.
I don't share this for sympathy or attention. I share this so you know that I see you teacher-mommas. Pouring your everything into tiny humans whether they are yours or not. We have to find a balance.
In the car I was thinking about how I planned to write my first blog post today and I couldn't. I would be a complete fraud. I can't write a blog on being a mom...I am not the exemplar. With time I realized that was exactly why I needed to do it. I need something that is mine. Something to do for my own soul and this feels like it. I also believe that someone somewhere needs to put something real out there. I am not the perfect female, perfect mom, or perfect teacher you will find on other platforms (shout out to you ladies...because goals!), but I am real and I hope this journal/blog helps others, including myself, see that nothing has to be perfect to be beautiful.
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What you're in for...
Here you will find my ramblings of motherhood, teaching, & life while like many I try to balance it all.
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