Sunday, April 24, 2016

Local Hancock County Fresh - Tuttle's CSA Tote Program


This weekend made me giddy - Tuttle Orchards in McCordsville, Indiana in beautiful Hancock County opened for the season. The greenhouse doors flew open with pretty flowers, green plants, seedlings and MORE! It seemed SPRING was finally here in Indiana. As a mama that loves local fresh, I was excited to hear about another offering at Tuttle's - their weekly tote program! So convenient for busy families that LOVE to eat fresh and local!

Totes filled with in season local fresh from Tuttle's very week! Plus for #fabFortville folks, Jennifer's Flower Boutique on Main Street Fortville is a pick-up location!

So what exactly do the totes bring to you and your family? A weekly box of only the best in season produce direct from Tuttle Orchards Farm Store, with a variety of vegetables, fruit and herbs grown at the orchard, as well as, high quality produce from other farms (like Indiana Strawberries, South Carolina peaches). There is a short season tote (starts end of June) and a long season tote (starts end of May). Both tote programs fill up fast as well. There are limited spots for each.

There are two sizes to choose from - small and large.

Example of a Small Tote
Small: Smaller portion of 4-5 items of produce each week. Recommended for 1-2 people who love to eat produce or a family who cooks a few times a week.  

Example of a Large Tote

Large: Standard portion of 6-8 items/week. Ideal for a family of 4-6 people who like produce or 1-2 people who LOVE PRODUCE. 

Additionally, you can include their grocery item add-on program, which includes two local or gourmet food items to compliment your produce. Such as honey, syrup or a cobbler mix. 

Are you family that loves local fresh? We have fab news for you! Tuttle Orchards has given us a special coupon code to offer our readers for new sign-ups for the tote program. Use FABFORT for $10 off a new tote subscription.

Click here to begin your adventure in local fresh with the Tuttle's Tote Program. Enjoy, friends!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fit Friday - Choosing Me and a 5K

Last Saturday was a great day. I ran my first 5K. I never thought I would ever run one. That was a job for other people, people who enjoyed running and were already fit.

However, I was inspired by someone who was in my shoes years ago, at 100 lbs over weight and having never ran before. She too was inspired and loving herself drove her to run.

Over the past year I've spiraled out of control. The soda and the sugar is what kept me going. I would think, I've had a bad day, I deserve this. The soda would keep me caffeinated enough to get me to bed time. After 2 years of not being able to sleep more then 3 hours at a time (thanks to night time breastfeeding), it was all I had. I was and sometimes still am defeated.

The defeat will happen, but victory is so much sweeter. However, victory would not be so sweet without blood, sweat and tears. If it was easy no one would care to do it, and there would be no worth. But I'm worth it and you are too.

My journey to my 5K moment started around 2 months ago when I headed to the gym. My anxiety and stress were through the roof. I needed an outlet to work off the stress and to feel a bit of freedom. You see the gym also offers affordable child care. Sometimes its just worth being able to shower when you need to. Yes, when you are a mother its the simple things in life that can make your day.

Small victories too. The first time I stepped foot on the elliptical I couldn't believe how out of breath I was. How did I let myself get this way?! Am I not worth my own time and effort? I'm not saying that I've turned my entire life around, but I'm making strides in a better direction and guess what - I, Ashley Thomas, just RAN a 5K?! Yep, this girl did that.

As our buddy Toby of Blue Seas Fitness and Wellness would say - Today's the day, and YOU are important. So what's been holding you back? Why not choose today to choose you? Trust me, friends, it feels amazing!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mom to Mom Cyberbullying

In my teen years I thought I was big stuff with my flip phone.

Pretty sure they are collectibles now. I also thought the drama of my teen years of was a thing of the past; that the catty girls of high school were far behind me.

This week I found out firsthand how cyberbullying feels. No it wasn't a one of my children being bullied, but me, and from a group of moms with common interests no less. Grown women dishing out insult after insult and taunting me on social media. It was like I'd been biten with venom and was slowly succumbing to its ill effects. Moreover, I was extremely caught off guard that this could happen to me - at this stage of my life.

But it did.

One evening, within one of my mom-based Facebook groups, I saw a post from one mom to another talking about how she was going to be on vacation for a week. I commented that it was not very smart to post that kind of stuff on social media and that she is more likely to be vandalized because people would know exactly when no one would be home. I guess this person felt like I was attacking her, so she proceeded to attack me back by going to my profile photos on Facebook and screenshoting one of my photos to pick apart. Then others joined in on the taunting. It was a full on cyberbullying party. I was in disbelief. How could this be happening to me?!

I had to take a few moments to gather my wits. I wanted to fight back and attack. I wanted to tell these women that they should be ashamed of themselves. Then I remembered what is the best way to deal with people like this. Do nothing. I would be only adding fuel to the fire, and obviously they feed off the drama.
Then I thought what is my time worth? I am a mother of 3 lovely littles and a husband who loves me for me. With every little imperfection. I have meaningful friendships and hobbies I enjoy. With all this positive in my life, why should I even let these negative people ruin a single moment? 

But this experience did change the way I looked at cyberbullying. It made me wonder what if it were my children they were attacking? What would have happened if they didn't know how to handle the situation? It also reminded me to change the privacy settings on my profile. Another thing I felt about them was sadness. What has happened in their lives to make them behave this way?

I also thought about the very word - bully. A verb that equals action, doing something. Hurting others. 

to intimidate (someone) 
synonyms:persecute, oppress, browbeat, harass, torment, ,strong-arm, dominate

To oppress. To torment. To intimidate. All such negative words. Dark words. 

Mothers, I'm urging you to talk to your children and openly discuss the best way to handle situations like this on social media. The sad thing is that in the world we live in there is a greater opportunity that it will happen at some point for many of us. No longer are we on the the little flip phones with no data plans. Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, any time of the day or night. 

If you personally have been attacked or are currently being attacked just know you are better then the bully. Their words may sting, but they're just words. Rise above and be grateful for all the good you have in your life.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dreaming of Summer? Us Too!

Make Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation Part of Your Spring Break Staycation Plans!

Indiana seems confused of late. Or possibly our state has forgotten SPRING means WARMER!

Are you in the need of a little staycation fun with a sprinkle of splish splash? We have just the ticket - Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation's indoor aquatics center! For kiddos who are dreaming of opening day of The Waterpark at the Monon Center, this is a little taste of that fun. 

Now is ALSO the perfect time to get your summer waterpark passes all squared away. Check out the rates and purchase yours today. 

Curious what The Waterpark is like? Check out our post from last summer detailing all the fun. This year Coach Man and I are leaving the kiddos home one evening for a Monon Mixer and sailing the lazy river kid free just like the cool cats over at Indy Homeschool did last year! The first one is Thursday June 16th. See ya there!

We Love a Garden Party, Especially at Tuttle Orchards!

April in Hancock County Equals Tuttle's Spring Open House!

Have you marked your calendar yet? If not, you should! It's Saturday April 23rd 11-3. Ruth Ann Roney of Tuttle Orchards in Hancock County advises that this year's SPRING GARDEN PARTY is going to be tons of fun for the whole family!

As a 4th generation Tuttle, Ruth Ann's love for the orchard and farm shines through in all she does and says. I love getting to sit and chat with her about all that is new and old with Tuttle's! It's one of our favorite places. There is just something so special about visiting, and we love to stop each and every season! 

Ruth Ann with the Fortville Mama kiddos in 2014

In my mind, spring really hasn't sprung until Tuttle's Spring Garden Party happens. The greenhouse will be open with gorgeous plants and hanging baskets. The famous Tuttle's sweet shop opens for the season! Vendors are on-hand sampling their local artisan items. There are giant garden yard games. Plus apple donuts from Indiana's Bowman Bakery! Yummo. 

New this year at Tuttle Orchard's Farm Store - Revival Food Co.
And we have fabulous news in regards to Tuttle's Spring Garden Party. Starting Sunday April 17th, Fortville Mama will be celebrating with a Tuttle's themed giveaway contest each and everyday. Items will include featured local artisan items from the Tuttle Orchard Farm Store! You won't want to miss it. Make sure to like us on Facebook and under the LIKE button, choose to get our notifications. 

For info on our favorite season - fall - at Tuttle Orchards, visit our post from September 2013 here. Plus learn more about the history of the orchard and farm store here. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post later this month on the Tuttle Orchards Tote Program (did you know Jennifer's Flowers in Fortville is a pick-up location?!), plus fun info on all the new things coming for summer!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Why Not Celebrate #Indiana200 with a Look at Art Past and Present?

Oh how I adore Indiana! We're a state rich in art experiences from unique galleries and artisan markets to museums and art schools. There is a wealth of amazing art in our state, and one of my favorite places to enjoy it is at the Indiana State Museum (ISM). If you haven't explored ISM in a bit, oh my are you missing out!

Right now through October 2nd as part of the #Indiana200 celebration you can experience a special body of artwork entitled - 200 Years of Indiana Art: A Cultural Legacy. The exhibit is a signature project of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission with support from the Indiana Arts Commission, and additional funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Arts Council of Indianapolis and the City of Indianapolis and features art from territorial days to the present.

Photo Credit: Sandy Zimmerman of

The exhibit is comprised of more than 100 two and three-dimensional works of art. Works by important early Indiana artists providing historical perspective to their time period. Plus additional modern and contemporary pieces illustrating the development of the visual arts in Indiana, and showcasing the immense talent and diversity associated with the Hoosier state.

Walter Lobyn Hamilton, Dark Fantasy, mixed media on canvas, 2001
If you do only one thing in celebration of Indiana's 200th birthday, I say let it be this. Immerse yourself in art and be in awe of all the talent both past and present birthed in Indiana.

Portrait of T.C. Steele by Wayman Adams, 1883-1959
Enjoy paintings by 19th Century early Indiana Pioneer Painters George Winter, Jacob Cox and Marcus Mote, and works by T.C. Steele, Janet Scudder, William Edouard Scott, Ada Shulz, Susan McCord, Frank Hohenberger, Robert Indiana, Alma Eikerman, David Smith, Kay Rosen and Richard Peeler. Additionally, Anila Agha’s 2014 ArtPrize winning gallery installation, Intersections will be showcased. It invites the viewer to confront the contradictory nature of all intersections, while simultaneously exploring boundaries. A gorgeous piece indeed. It is the first time the piece has been shown in Indiana since winning the international art competition’s top honor. Watch a video sharing more on the inspiration for the piece.

Moreover, see firsthand through the eyes of art, how the state’s population and ethnic diversity changed and evolved over the years. Don't miss out on celebrating our history through the eyes of art. Plan an ISM day from now through October to stroll, explore and enjoy. The exhibition is included with museum admission, and public installations are on view free to the public.

Get out, don't it it pass you by, celebrate #Indiana200 and be Hoosier proud.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Old National Bank Fox 59 Pay It Forward Challenge at Ten West Center for the Arts

Hello #fabFortville!

Last Friday I got an awesome phone call! Fox 59 called to advise that my entry was 1 of 6 chosen to participate in a Pay It Forward Challenge sponsored by Old National Bank! Wow! Every morning I listen to Fox 59's morning news as I work from home. I caught the preview of the challenge promo a few weeks ago, and I thought why not, I'll enter for Ten West Center for the Arts - my very favorite local non-profit. I always say if I win the lottery they are the first to get some!

I am so very proud to participate in the name of Ten West and hope to help them win much needed funds to help keep great local arts (and MORE) programs going strong for years to come.

For those not familiar with the awesomeness that is Ten West, it is a Fortville non-profit doing so much good for the community. They live their tagline of keeping youth creative each and every day! Moreover, they do it in a manner that makes the arts (and MORE) accessible to so many through affordable classes (art, music, dance, theater and martial arts) and events (comedy nights, plays, musicals, concerts, fashion shows and so much MORE). My favorite part of their about us section on their website is: "We exist to provide an opportunity to young people when it may not be available. In an age of disappearing arts programs and budget cuts, it is more important than ever for students to have a means of expression..."

For this first phase of the competition I was given a $200 Visa card by Fox 59 and Old National Bank to Pay It Forward in the best way possible and document the PIF fun along the way with photo and videos. I approached Ten West to tell them the good news and to see what their current needs were so I could brainstorm the best way to PIF. Well in true Ten West fashion after advising they had a need for scaffolding for their next production - Seussical, a wheelchair accessible ramp and maintenance around the facility, but they told me they really wanted me to find away to help EVEN MORE kids be creative with the funds. And their PIF giving never ceases - never. Always putting others needs before their own.

Challenged accepted, Ten West! I thought why not host a try it, like it night and let children who haven't explored a class try one for FREE for the evening. Possibly we could pay for the instructor's time and allow the children to come and enjoy a class free of charge. Well, peeps, let me tell you - Ten West's instructor's (Artventure, Celestial Martial Arts and Artsy Canvas) are amazing as the non-profit itself! The instructors offered their time for free and allowed for a drawing from each of the free try it, like it classes, so that two randomly selected children could have the opportunity to win either a free month of martial arts and a free summer session of art camp. Wow! I am amazed and humbled by their generosity.

We had an phenomenal evening tonight. We created. We learned the basics in martial arts. We laughed. We smiled. We enjoyed being creative together. And two little ones now have the opportunity to take it further in the next few months with extended experiences at Ten West. So thankful for Ten West and all they offer and bring to the community! A treasure beyond measure.

So peeps here's where you come in for the next phase. The Ten West PIF story will air in April. You need to VOTE. Your votes will help Ten West to possibly win additional PIF funds! Possibly enough for that much needed wheel chair ramp! There will be a first place winner of $5000, second place of $2000 and third place of $1000. So stay tuned and VOTE when the time arrives. Lets keep such a wonderful non-profit going strong and keep youth creative way into the future!

Oh and if there is a local business out there that would like to help Ten West with their immediate need of scaffolding. It is around $600. We have a bit left over after paying for month of martial arts and a summer art camp session, plus we are working to raise more. We'd love a business to step forward and pledge to match what we are able to raise in the next week or two. Open your hearts friends. No amount is too small, every dollar counts. Stand with us and make it happen.

Oh and congrats to our winners this evening! And a huge thank you to Fox 59 and Old National Bank for making it possible to PIF in such a fun manner! We heart you!