Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Small Town Living - Carol of the Bells

December 24th - Joyful Noise to Fill the Silent Night in Fortville

There are so many things that we adore about small town living in Fortville and Ten West Center for the Arts is right there at the top of the list! The Okersons, who own the local non-profit, are always thinking about their community and what they can do to for the greater good of that community. And Christmas time is no different.

Ten West Center for the Arts is bringing to life a Christmas Eve Carillon Concert in Fortville! At 9 p.m. on December 24th step outside into the chill December air, and if you're within a mile of Ten West be treated to a pre-recorded 20 minute carillon concert!  

What is a carillon, you ask? It is the heaviest musical instrument ever made! A carillon is a series of between 23-47 large swinging bells, played by a musican hammering on a special keyboard. These instruments are usually constructed in church towers, municipal buildings or bell towers at universities (such as Ball State, IU, Notre Dame, DePauw and so on).

The music that will be played from the bell tower at Ten West on Christmas Eve was captured from a carillon over 400 years old located at Our Lady of Antwerp Cathedral in Antwerp, Belgium. These bells are some of the most beautiful in the world and for the first time in Fortville, their peaceful music will fill the air.

For more info, visit Ten West's website.

A big Fortville Mama thank-you to Ten West and the Okersons! We are so glad you are part of our community. Thank-you for all the good you do. Cheers to what 2015 holds. We can't wait to see what Ten West has up their sleeves for the new year!

The FM kiddos with the Okerson men at the Fortville Winter Festival parade.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Top 5 Things We LOVE About Celebration Crossing At The Indiana State Museum

Our Top 5 Celebration Crossing Must Dos

The Indiana State Museum (ISM) has it all when it comes to the holiday season! Wow, what amazing sensory experience with historical flare Celebration Crossing (the Annual ISM Holiday Festival) is each year. The museum comes alive with festive colors, music, decorations, smells and activities. The elves do a fabulous job of putting up Santa's ISM home for the season. His cottage is cozy and smells just like a country Christmas tree farm! The kiddos love to sit on his lap and whisper their hearts desires, but this mama could pull up a cozy chair alongside him, pour a cup of something delicious and stay awhile! Around every corner is something to delight in and enjoy as a whole family!

Here are our Top 5 Must Dos:

1. Greet Santa when he arrives in true Indy style via helicopter (as he did all those years ago, but at the fairgrounds before heading to the old L.S. Ayres department store) on the ISM front lawn at Noon on Friday November 28th. Festivities start at 11 a.m. with holiday sounds from the Indianapolis Children's Choir and after Santa is safe on the ground everyone moves inside for the opening of Celebration Crossing!

2. Riding the rails is definitely high on the list. On the 3rd floor you'll find the the Santa Claus Express Train. It is a larger replica of the original train that sits on display in the lobby. The original once chugged through the winter wonderland at L.S. Ayres department store on the eighth floor. The original train is nestled in a picturesque setting at ISM and is a perfect photo opportunity for the whole family. 

3. Make time for one of the extra special events taking place over the season. Choose from things like Breakfast with Santa, Tea with Dolly and Coach Man's favorite - Hoosier Hour (A 1920s Christmas), which features Legacy Theater Troupe performing a radio show based on a 1920s era recreation of A Christmas Carol, complete with commercials, music and sound effects!

4. A personal visit with the big guy of course! Rumor has it since along ago, the real Santa could always be found at the downtown L.S. Ayres. It was the only place he'd hang in the city. Now, you just can't leave the ISM without stopping by to say hello, share your wish list and experience his cozy cottage firsthand. However, if you have little ones that are a little shy and it's not their thing yet, ISM also has Santa's mailbox in the lobby and you can now send him an email as well from computer stations in the museum. Who knew! Santa is tech savvy with his very own email account. Wonder if his phone is an iphone too? 

5. This one if my personal favorites. The L.S. Ayres Tea Room restaurant - it's absolutely magical. My mother used to go to the actual one in the department store downtown long ago. Her bridal shower was there. She adored everything about it, but most of all the history of it. When she was alive she always made sure my sisters, my nieces and I always visited ISM once a year at least to enjoy the tastes and sights of this very special tea room. When you visit be sure to have the Chicken Velvet Soup! AMAZING! 

The Slattery family of Fortville has been visiting Celebration Crossing at ISM since their oldest was an infant. It's an Indy holiday tradition they look forward to each year! "It's fun to get all dressed up for our annual visit with Santa. We adore the vintage feel and authenticity of it. I used to visit the old Ayres Tea Room train with my Grandma. It always reminds me of when I was a little girl. Plus every family gets a semi-private visit with Santa in his cottage. Mrs. Claus and the ISM photographer are always helpful as well. It seems we've had a crier almost every year so far," Jennifer Slattery said.

2010 Slattery ISMCCX Christmas Visit with Santa
Downtown Indianapolis is just an amazing place to get immersed in the spirit of the holidays. It's magical. Don't let it pass you by this year. Get out and enjoy all this great city and state have to offer!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fortville Mama's Favorite Things

Fortville Mama Top Picks for 2014

(This holiday season, we decided to give you a different perspective. And just in time for Small Business Saturday on November 29th! We asked another local mama to tell us all about her Top 10 local picks for the holiday season. Please welcome guest blogger - Sandra Ratliff. Local mama of 5, local business owner and all around great gal! Thanks, Sandra for tackling this year's Top 10 picks!)

I am a local Mama to 5 great kids and a business owner in Fortville and this time of year is one of the busiest times for me.  I love the Holidays and spending as much time as possible with my family.  Time and money are two things we all have to prioritize during this holiday season.  I’m all about saving both! Shopping local and supporting our Small Businesses is a great way to accomplish both.  Fortville has so many great businesses it is hard to name just 10 but here is my Top 10 List of places to Shop this Holiday Season:

Indulge- Best place on Main Street to get a sweet treat, eat lunch or dinner and even host events/meetings.  Gift Certificates would make a great Teacher gift or stocking stuffer.  Indulge in supporting this local business!

Java Junction- Coffee is a must to start my day and I love having this CoffeeShop right here in our little town.  Go in for yourself and while there, pick up a few gift certificates for friends or teachers. 

Jennifer’s Flowers- Whether it’s a centerpiece for your table, flowers for a friend, or just holiday d├ęcor, Jennifer’s will put together a beautiful arrangement for you.  She also has some unique gifts to buy in her store too.

Studio 309- I recently visited this painting studio for the first time and must say what a great place to have here in town.  Canvas painting is a popular thing to do these days and this is the perfect place to book a time for the kids, or for a Girls Night (Mom Break).  

Tutus by Natalie- Every little girl loves to feel like a princess and wear pretty things, Natalie’s hand made tutus or hair accessories are the perfect gift for the little girl on your list this year.  She has a display in Indulge or you can check out her Facebook site as well.

The Gypsy Chicks- This New Boutique on Main Street is the perfect place to buy a new outfit for that holiday party your attending!  It’s also the perfect place for husbands to get their wives a gift certificate for their stocking or to buy a unique gift for that special someone on your list. 

C J and Co Hair Design- We all try to look our best during the Holidays and getting that haircut or color always helps to make us feel our best.  Visit April or one of the other Stylists before your family snaps all those Christmas pictures.

Stroughs IGA- It’s so nice to have a small town grocery store to get those last minute ingredients or foods we forgot, or to get to when the weather is bad. Lets help support this local business and shop for more than just that this season.  Instead of going to the bigger stores try going to Stroughs to purchase your list at least once this holiday season.

El 5 deMayo-  I love Mexican food and so does my family! I’m certain you will all get your fill of turkey and ham, so take your family to this great restaurant for lunch or dinner one day and give yourself a break in the kitchen.

Ratliff Construction- Yes, last but not least lets not forget those house projects you have been putting off  for long enough. My husband and I own and run this small business and will be glad to work with you on your project to remodel a room in your home or even add a room to your home.  It’s not too early to schedule those Spring Projects! 

Happy Holidays to you and your families from this Fortville Mama

~ Mama Ratliff!!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fortville Mama's Top Five Christmas Must Dos

Christmas Season Must Dos In and Around Fortville

I love the magical element of the Christmas season. I love watching it all through my children's eyes. And most of all, I adore our family traditions. 

If you visit us often here at Fortville Mama, you know we're big on low cost family fun, and that's no different for the holiday season. We prefer the simple things and savoring the sweet moments with our little ones.

Here's the list of our top five low cost family must dos for the Christmas season:

1. The Fortville Winter Festival! It takes place the first Saturday of December each year and is the perfect kick-off to a magical holiday season. Entry is FREE and most cost features are priced with families in mind. The festival includes a festive holiday parade down Main Street Fortville, a Snowflake Princess Pageant, live music, delicious food vendors, photography contest, zip line fun, cozy carriage rides and MORE. Check out Kara Fleck of Simple Kids recap from last year. 

2. Reynolds Farm Equipment John Deere FREE Christmas Light Display. This is usually a Thanksgiving evening and many more times throughout December visit for our family. The kiddos love trying to figure out what display is new each year! They never get sick of slowly driving through the display off of SR37 and 126th Street in Fishers. Absolutely FREE and so worth a visit. 

3. The Dancing House as my children call it. Located in the Harrison Park neighborhood off Allisonville Road. Another that they beg to visit multiple times in December. I love to hear their little voices sing along and see their eyes wide as the lights "dance" in front of them.


4. The Holy Walk Through Bethlehem at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Carmel is such an amazing family experience in the true spirit of the season. You get to travel 2000 years back, pay your taxes and be counted in the Roman Census. The guided walk includes songs of the angels, live animals, shepherds and highly believable angry Roman soldiers. The journey to the newborn babe in manager is one of great awe. I highly recommend this amazing evening. This year's walk takes place on the evenings of 12/5 and 12/6. It is a FREE event, but canned good donations are appreciated for the local food pantry. 

5. No December is complete without a trip down the Yule Slide at the Indianapolis Children's Museum! And you're in luck because the first Thursday of each month is the Target FREE family night from 4-8 p.m. Enjoy all the Children's Museum has to offer for FREE and that means even a fun trip down the Yule Slide!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Haunted Fortville

Things That Go Bump In The Night Fortville

Make sure to get all the way to the bottom folks. There is a spooky giveaway contest!

Just ask the coach man, I like to scare myself silly with shows like Ghost Hunters and if you're old school, Unsolved Mysteries. Not really the horror movie kind of stuff, but the "real" story kind of stuff. I watch with a blanket pulled up to my nose so I can quickly bring it up over my eyes if need be. I'm completely intrigued by the paranormal, so it's only natural that I'm ultra intrigued by paranormal in Fortville!

Just down the street from me is the Ivy House Bed and Breakfast. It's rumored that Al Capone used to visit long ago and illegally gamble within it's walls. HGTV's If Walls Could Talk featured the B and B and noted that gambling items were found both behind a furnace and inside garage walls. Haunted Places also reports an experience with the piano within the B and B.

Photo courtesy of Ivy House website.
Recently I had a fun chat with one of the owners of Indulge Cafe in Fortville. Their building is quite old and has multiple floors. Long ago it housed one of the first car dealerships in the area. Cars were stored on the 2nd floor and brought up and down via a large service elevator. It is rumored during that same time frame the basement included a speakeasy that Al Capone visited often. Employees of the cafe have heard loud footsteps above and things falling down the stairs. Once there was a loud clanging of what seemed like objects falling down the stairs. They went to investigate and found a bunch of pocket change all over the stairwell, as if it were thrown down the stairs.

If you read my Indiana State Museum: American Spirits exhibit recap, you know I love the era that includes flappers, bootleggers and gangsters! To think...Al Capone thought Fortville was cool enough to hangout here often! Just maybe in a speakeasy in the basement of the now Indulge! I love it! We'll just overlook the whole criminal thing for a minute. I just love that just maybe we're a slice of that period's history!

Moving newest creepy Fortville destination providing for haunted intrigue - Ten West Center for the Arts! There's been quite a few interesting incidents over the years. You can read about them here and watch a spirit interaction as well. Love the flashlight thing! Decide for yourself, haunted or not. My favorite part of Ten West is the passage from the church to the parsonage. I love hidden doors and tunnels. When those are present there is always a back story or two to go with!

Picture courtesy of Ten West.
In the spirit of all that is creepy and in celebration of one of my favorite holidays, we have a spooky giveaway contest for you!

Ten West is hosting a showing of Hocus Pocus (rated PG) on Halloween evening starting at 8:30 p.m. Gives you plenty of time to enjoy trick or treating and then head over for a fun family movie to cap off the evening! There will be an all ages costume contest with CASH grand prize, yummy movie concessions and additional prizes of gift certificates for Indulge and Famous Dave's at Hamilton Town Center (provided by the amazing Fortville/McCordsville Chamber of Commerce)! It's the place to be on Halloween evening after dark! Tickets are $5 per person or $17 for a family four pack.

BUT, we have your chance to WIN a family four pack of tickets and go for FREE! Contest ends at noon on October 29th. See below for details on how to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hancock County Treasures - The Mug

The Modern Car Hop

This past week the crew and I visited The Mug in Greenfield for a bite to eat after a fun afternoon at Piney Acres Farm in Fortville. We were all starving and The Mug didn't disappoint - tasty choices perfect for every member of the family abound! 

We had tried to visit one night earlier, but they were so popular right after opening their doors that they ran out of food a few times. Instead of being upset, we knew that it just must be that good and that we needed to make a point to come back and give it a try. Our suspicions were right on! Oh my gosh such tasty food! When everything is fresh, it's amazing, And if it's amazing and in high demand, I think you are going to have that from time to time, where you just sell out. Way better than having a freezer full of processed stuff. Have you seen an episode of Kitchen Nightmares with Gordan Ramsey? He would advise you that fresh is always better and running out is normal, if you are awesome!

Picture courtesy of The Mug Facebook
The coach man and I got their HUGE tenderloin sandwiches. Fried of course. If you're gonna do it, go all the way. Little man got chicken tenders and baby girl got a cheeseburger. We all had their fries. So crispy! Absolutely delish! Coach man was amused that the fries came in the old fashioned wax paper bags. He said that's how they used to come at the Dairy Queen in Delphi when he was little and often went with his beloved Grandma. I happen to think the wax paper bag makes a difference. Keeps them crispy longer. Yum!

We all got their yummy root beer. Once again, awesome! If it hadn't been so chilly the night we went, we would have tried their ice cream as well. We chose to sit at their adorable umbrella tables after we ordered, but you can also order from your car as well in the parking spots that surround the restaurant. Each has it's own menu board and button to push to place your order. Once you push it, a server with a cute pink bandanna comes to take your order. I guess that gives us something new to try for our next visit. That and a corn dog. I saw one on their Facebook that made my mouth water the other day!

I love that right outside the restaurant is a chalkboard that highlights all the local fresh currently being sourced that goes in the made to order delish food items. The night we went these were the names on the board. All local. All vendors we adore! Isn't it so cool to know where your food comes from?! 

Another thing that I really liked was so simple but yet so great when you have kiddos! They had sidewalk chalk! The Fortville Mama kiddos had a blast drawing while we waited for our order. They made spaceships, the pig from the sign, the flag, their names...they tagged up the pavement all around our table. Nothing like happy little kiddos patiently awaiting their food. Smart move The Mug, smart move.

Until we meet again, stay amazing The Mug. If I were you, I'd follow them on Facebook, so your mouth can water too.

We'll definitely be back soon. There are corn dogs and ice cream to be had. Oh and those delish crispy fries.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mama Tip Tuesday! EASY Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

You might notice I have a BIG pumpkin craving of late...

Around the fall each year, it's always one of my favorites! There's something about the cold weather that just makes you want a pumpkin latte, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake and the list could go on.

So why not pumpkin for breaskfast? Don't mind if I do!

Let's make Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls (and cheat a little bit)

1 roll Cresent rolls
1/4 canned pumpkin puree
1 tbps pumpkin pie spice
1 tbps ground cinnamon
Sugar to garnish
2 tbps butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp milk

Preheat oven to 375. Unroll the crescent dough, mend the seems. Combine pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon.  Spread evenly over dough then sprinkle with sugar. Tightly roll. Cut individual pinwheels.

Cook for 15 minutes till golden brown.

Combine all frosting ingredients slowly adding in milk to desired consistency.