Monday, August 25, 2014

My Kryptonite? A Good Deal of Course!

I Swoon Over Clearance Tags and Price Cuts

I Get Giddy Over BOGO Sales

But the SALE that puts the biggest spring in my step, comes around just twice a year. Each spring and each fall at the Hamilton County Fair Grounds. The Indy Kids Consignment Sale! Keep reading peeps, there's passes to be won at the end!

By far the most consistently amazing kids consignment sale I've ever experienced. I've been going for about five years now and each and every year I discover amazing finds for each of my kids. I go with a list of things to look for that my kids need and I usually find most of my list and a few extra items all within my set budget. The prices are amazing! All gently used (and sometimes brand spanking new) for great prices. Here are some of my favorite finds over the years and their approx. cost.

One of my favorite Indy Kids Sale finds!

  • A light pine toddler bed for $25. That specific year, baby girl's brother had gone through a Spiderman period and broke her current bed just weeks before the sale while testing his webbing/flying skills in her bedroom. Brothers!
  • A handmade pink fleece jacket (pictured above) for $6. So well made. Baby girl adored it! We were sad to see her grow out of it.
  • T-shirts $1-$4. If you really look, you can find both long and short sleeve T's for cheap. Always good to have lots of these. If you're kiddos are like mine, they often go through multiple outfits a day as they play hard.
  • Unique dresses. $3-$10. I love that I can find sweet little dresses she can wear to preschool or church that are unique. You can often find holiday dresses as well on the racks for way less than new at the department store. 
  • Shoes $2-$15. In the younger years, I'd had great success in the shoe area. Crocs, Spiderman and Hello Kitty Boots. Sparkly flats. Boys Nike shoes that were barely used. Amazing luck! Shoes are expensive. If you can find a pair that have hardly been used, I say BINGO, get 'em girl! (HINT - take a shoe in your kids current size with you. Helps to easily hold it up and compare sizing on the fly.)
  • Homeschool Items. Various pricing. Things from text books to learning games and puzzles.
  • Videos and CDS. Various pricing. Great cheap, gently used items to help expand your own home video and music library. My kiddos always loved to sing in the car. Finding a new kids CD that was decent was like GOLD to me.
Another element that I adore about the Indy Kids Sale is that they take the exclusive private presale passes very seriously. I've been to other sales, where the "exclusive" presale passes were way over sold and you have to end of waiting in a 2 hour line to check out when it was supposed to be an exclusive shopping event. I'm the type of mama that wants my true exclusive shopping experience, if I'm going to actually spend money to buy the special private presale passes. 

With that said, I am extremely thrilled to be able to offer the Fortville Mama readers a chance to snag a pair of these coveted private presale pass! Believe me, they are golden! Be one of the first to get to experience this fall's Indy Kids Sale. Looking for a little red wagon this year? A stroller? A Little Tikes play item? The presale passes give you the best chance to snag it before someone else does. 

All you have to do to be entered to win, is comment below with why you love the Indy Kids Sale or what item you'd love to find there this year. That simple. Make sure to check out how you can earn extra entries daily as well. Contest ends Friday (8/29/14) at noon. Follow Indy Kids Sale on FB, Twitter and Instagram too via @IndyKidsSale! It's the best way to keep up on all the hot items coming in for the sale from the consignors

Please note if you win, the presale passes are good for a private shopping event the evening of Wednesday September 10th. Please note, no children are allowed at the private presale event unless worn in a carrier. Good luck peeps. Enter away.

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Surrounded By Love Is A Good Place To Be


It's been a strange week for me. My father passed on Wednesday of a massive stroke. He was 78. My mother passed a little over a year ago. Such a weird feeling to have them both gone. I feel way too young for this to be the case. Way too young, with so much more to share with them. So much more. But in my heart I know no matter where life takes me, their love follows me and always will. I'm also so blessed that they gave me the gift of 8 siblings, tons of cousins, nieces and nephews and well... just good ole family. Way blessed in that.
Herman and Gloria before all of us arrived. Weren't they cute?!
In the same manner, I am extremely blessed by my Fortville family. Over the last week, so many of you have reached out in kind words, thoughts, prayers and love. You've surrounded me with love and you've ministered to my family in beautiful ways in our time of grief. You are amazing; a beautiful community that I am proud to live and work within.

Thank-you to the Okerson men and Ten West Center for the Arts, Nancy Strickland and The Fortville/McCordsville Chamber of Commerce, Tom Ryder and Genesis Plastics Welding, Donna and Dennis Burns, Julia Feeney (who is my newest Fortville friend!) and Community Hospital's Wellspring Pharmacy, my fellow Fortville Mama Ashley Thomas and my many many friends in Fortville who pitched in to make the luncheon after the service beautiful! You all touched my and my family's heart!

Thank-you from the entire Koehl family.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

We'll Always Have Fortville In July

Ooh and Awe, and a Little Ooh La La

If you know me well, you know I hate being hot. Summer is definitely my least favorite season. It just plain makes me cranky at times. But even with the heat there are a couple of Fortville July festivities that I will venture outside for no matter how toasty. They're a definite must do for this mama and her crew!

The first is the Fortville Fireworks Show in Landmark Park (July 5th at Dusk). A perfect example of what I love most about the Fortville community! Residents of the town coming together to bring something wonderful to everyone in the town! The event is brought to life each July by the great efforts of Jeff Ratliff, and his friends. Jeff visits all the businesses in town and asks them to donate to make it happen and so many do! A big Fortville Mama thank-you to all of them! Thank-you for funding something that brings such great joy to so many and brings the community together to celebrate in the most patriotic of ways. Your efforts are much appreciated and do not go unnoticed.

Photo Credit: Andrew Okerson
Last year the folks from Six Feet Up (owners Calvin and Gabrielle Hendryx-Parker are the founders of Indiana Bastille Day) were on hand with patriotic tunes before and during the show, along with information about my other favorite July Fortville event - Indiana Bastille Day! And we're in luck, Six Feet Up, along with Ten West Center for the Arts will be mixing it up in Landmark Park again this this year with all your favorite Independence Day tunes. Rumor has it a special guest(s) will be on-hand too. I can't wait to see who it might be!!! I also can't wait to ooh and awe over the in your face close fireworks! One of the best small community July 4th fireworks shows I've ever seen! 

Next up, in mid-July, is the 5th Annual Indiana Bastille Day Celebration! This year's festivities take place in Landmark Park Saturday July 12th 4-10:30 p.m. It's one of a kind event and filled with family fun around every corner and best of all admission is FREE! Check out this great recap of last year's Indiana Bastille Day from our friend Kara Fleck over at Simple Kids! She explains the essence of the event perfectly! 

Some of my favorites from last year included: Artisan food vendors (and a delish walking taco vendor), painting of Parisian scenes in park with the Paint Cellar, live French music, live Fortville fire department demos, Peewinkle's Puppet Studio, the candle light lantern children's parade and best of all capping the evening off - a laser light show to music!

New this year a partnership with Indiana On Tap! Five local breweries will be on-hand pouring from their own tables! Festival goers will be able to enjoy beer and wine throughout the park during the event. You are no longer just confined to the fenced in garden area! WooHoo! I'm excited to enjoy a little Scarlet Lane brew with my French tunes on the concert lawn! Oh and waiter races! Local waiters will take to the soccer field in Landmark park for a friendly little competition, while holding trays!

And you know an event is great when the famous PINK ELEPHANT leaves his post to join the FUN! Sound like an event you and your crew would love?! Want some free Bastille Day Bucks to help make it even more exciting? You're in luck! The great folks over at Six Feet Up, have given us 2 - $10 Bastille Day Buck giveaways to share with our Fortville Mama fans! See below to enter! Good luck peeps!

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Mama Wandering Wednesday: The Roots of Art on Mass Ave - Opening of 431 Gallery at Indiana State Museum

I adore a good back story! 

As well as Indiana history! What can I say, I'm a proud Hoosier through and through. 

I am quite pumped about the opening of 431 Gallery: Art & Impact Exhibit at the Indiana State Museum this weekend. The exhibit will showcase works from the 431 Cooperative Gallery that stood on historic Mass Ave in downtown Indianapolis from 1984 - 1993, and is in conjunction with a free exhibit entitled Ed Sanders/Life and Art at the Herron School of Art and Design that features solo works from one of 431 Gallery's founders who passed away in 2006. Bret Waller, Director Emeritus of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, said in regards to Sanders, "...he painted as if painting really mattered, as if truth itself depended on it." 

As if truth itself depended on it... I've just gotta see that!

When the famous 431 Gallery opened in the early 80s, Mass Ave. wasn't exactly the Indy hot spot destination it is today. It was a bit of a poverty stricken, dark area of town. In my opinion not only did the cooperative gallery and its 17 artists (most Herron School of Art and Design students), along with the other Mass Ave galleries help spark the cutting-edge art scene in Indianapolis during that time frame, but they also planted the first seeds of what so many of us love about Mass Ave. today. So much creativity and energy nestled into a little corner of a bustling downtown Indianapolis. Really a cultural bright spot!

During its prime, the gallery was considered one of the premier Indy destinations for those looking for a taste of contemporary local art. It featured sculpture, paintings and photographs. The exhibit at the Indiana State Museum will feature a partial recreation of the famous Mass Ave. gallery where visitors can view up close and personal works from the original cooperative. Featured artists include: Bill Adkins, Anita Giddings, Larry Kline, Carla Knopp, Steve Paddock and Ed Sanders.

A sneak peak via @IndianaMuseum

There is definitely a buzz in the air about these new feature exhibits in downtown Indianapolis! It's the first time the Herron School of Art and Design and the Indiana State Museum have partnered for a major program.

The exhibits kicks-off with a progressive reception this Friday, where visitors will visit both the museum and the Herron School of Art and Design. The fun continues Saturday June 28th with two panel discussions. The first centered on 431 Gallery, and its impact on Central Indiana. The second is Our Journey: 30 Years of Art and takes a look at what's next for the Indy art scene. Both discussions are open to the public, but due to limited seating, RSVP is required. Call the museum at 317.232.1637 to save your spot.

I do hope you join me and take in a little art before the exhibits closes on September 14th and connect with the history of the Indianapolis art scene and beautiful Mass Ave.! 

Wanna enjoy it all for the price of kid's admission? Go on a Wednesday through the end of August! In an effort to make enjoying the Indiana State Museum more affordable for families, the museum launched Everybody's a Kid Wednesdays, where adults also get the $5.50 child admission price. Go ahead enjoy childhood, a little bit of summer and art too! 

*The museum exhibition 431 Gallery is funded in part by the Buckingham Foundation, the Arts Council of Indianapolis and the City of Indianapolis and is free with museum admission following the 6/27 opening reception.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Local Fresh - Carlis' Little Ladies

I know this little farm just down the road..., well maybe I know a few farms down the road, but today it's all about eggs peeps!

I've gotten brown eggs routinely from this specific farm for almost a year now! Oh how I love their delicious farm fresh eggs. I love the rich brown beauty of the shell (it's almost like art to me) and the equally rich yolks. I don't think I'll ever go back to store bought eggs. There is most definitely a difference people. 

It was this time last year that I bought my first carton at the Fortville Farmers Market and took the farm fresh egg challenge with my own side by side comparison. I've been a believer ever since, and a proud Brawner's Greenhouse regular (and a from time to time Thomas coop regular too!).

One of my favorite parts of Brawner's, happens to be its owners, Carlis and Gail Brawner. Two of the nicest, most genuine people I've met in a long time. They truly care about their customers and the products they are providing to them. That's where Carlis' Little Ladies come into play. I once saw someone comment on Brawner's Facebook to this effect and I thought how funny to call the chickens his Little Ladies, but after spending time on the farm, I 100% understand! The Little Ladies actually flow him around, they get all excited when he is near. It like he's the pied piper of chickens or possibly their prince charming! They adore him! They are some very well cared for, loved and pampered chickens. 

Could their holistic natural farming approach possibly be why Brawner's eggs are so darn delicious?! This mama thinks so!

And it goes further than chickens, their greenhouse is amazing as well! I've heard Carlis referred to as the Willy Wonka of plants by a customer. I inquired as to why that title specifically and was advised that Brawner's plants are just so big and gorgeous that they they must have been grown in a wonderland! Just too darn beautiful and perfect to be real. What an amazing compliment from one's customer! 

I think deep down it has to do with how much both Carlis and Gail care about their farm and the products they sell. They put their all into everything that goes out their door, from eggs and plants to Christmas trees in the winter. They take great pride in their products. They are exactly the type of people that make me believe in #shopsmall and #shoplocal.

This past year their farm added a new facet, fairy gardens! I'm quite smitten with the idea of a fairy garden! I've not made one yet, but soon. I'm working on keeping things alive first. I've not been known to have the greenest thumb... mine is... well a bit black. I have some lovely basil from Brawner's on my front porch. We'll see how it does. I'd hate to add cute fairies to dance among brown dried up sad herbs. We'll see. I'll keep ya posted. Send some good gardening vibes my way.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Local Fresh - Strawberries, Sweet Corn, Veggies and MORE!

Multi-Faceted Tuttle Orchards!

Last week the Fortville Mama kiddos and I got to spend some time with Ruth Ann Roney (Farm Store and Activities Manager) at Tuttle Orchards in Hancock County, and oh what a great visit it was! 

Ruth Ann with the Fortville Mama kiddos

Ruth Ann is a 4th generation Tuttle and her love for orchard and farm shines through in all she does and says.  Little man loved asking her questions about the house next to the farm and the bees (he's dive deep kind of investigative reporter). He had always wondered about the little white house that sits to the side of the farm store. He said he knew it must be special. He was excited to hear Ruth Ann tell him that the house was Roy Tuttle's boyhood home and was built in the 1800s!

He also wanted to know about the bees. During each and every visit to the farm in the fall we always have to visit the bees. He and his sister are always captivated by the bee observation station. They love to search for the queen bee. He was sad that the bees are "vacationing" for the summer and won't be back until fall. The environment on the farm during summer isn't ideal for them, so their beekeeper comes and takes them and then brings them back right before the fall season. However, he enjoyed hearing Ruth Ann explain how important the bees are to the farm in helping pollinate apples, pumpkins and other veggies. 

For more on the fall activities at Tuttle Orchards, visit our post from September 2013 here.

The thing we were most curious to talk to Ruth Ann about is summer activities at Tuttle Orchards and she didn't disappoint. We kicked off our discussions with a taste test of their delicious strawberry smoothie! Yum! Right now they have the most delish strawberries fresh in from Indiana and Kentucky farms (Tuttle Orchards doesn't currently have their own patch). Tuttle Orchards are known far and wide for their smoothies - strawberry, peach and apple! Always so refreshing and always with fresh seasonal fruit! You'll have to get ya one!

With strawberries the star of the season right now, Tuttle Orchards, has a fun event coming up just in time for Father's Day this weekend! You can bring your Dad to the farm this Saturday 11-3p.m. for fun on the farm, including sampling, jam making, games, crafts, a scavenger hunt and of course strawberry treats! Dads are sure to have a good old fashioned fun time on the farm!

As for the rest of the summer, depending on peach supply in late July there may be peach treats available. Keep watch on their social media so you can be sure to head out for a peach smoothie! August will feature a special u-pick veggie day, where Tuttle employees will be on-hand to guide visitors on how to correctly harvest veggies such as sweet corn, green beans, cucumbers and more. This special event includes a hayride to and from the fields. Great hands-on learning for families!

Other than those events, the farm store is open year round with lots of great local products featured. I love that you can always visit their website and see what's at the farm store today. Let's you see what's local, fresh and in the store right now before you head out to shop! Ruth Ann advised that they always try to source as much as they can locally. Yeah! Nothing like local fresh!

I so adore a good back story and Tuttle Orchard's has just that. I wonder if Roy Tuttle knew how amazing the farm would be as it grew and how many families it would touch. Amazing that he started in the 1920s with 20 acres and growing apples commercially when all his neighbors had their own trees in their own backyards. They probably thought, what the heck is he doing?! He first sold them for processing in Chicago for things like applesauce and vinegar. Then eventually out of his pick-up truck each fall and as the 1950s came local grocery stores and schools. In the 1960s the farm store was born with happy customers traveling out to Hancock County for bushels and half bushels of Tuttle's famous apples. And oh what an amazing farm experience they have become today! I can't wait to see what co-owners (and brothers) Tom and Mike Roney do next on the farm! Thanks for letting the Fortville Mama crew visit! We had a blast!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mama Tip Tuesday and Local Fresh!

Locally sourced deliciously fresh strawberry cream pie!

Flaky crust, creamy center, strawberries with drizzled chocolate on top...

Whew it's getting hot in here! 

I've made this pie many times and my mom has also. What makes this pie the best? Ingredients grown right here in Indiana! These wonderful strawberries came from the local Fortville Farmers Market just a mile down the road from my house! The market takes place weekly, May - September, on Thursday 4-7. Stop by and get yourself a little local fresh! These wonderfully sweet juicy strawberries came from Harker Family Farms booth at the market. I couldn't just buy one pound. I bought two. I couldn't resist. 

Are they not just beautiful?! I love the small sweet strawberries. They bring me back to picking my own strawberries and making strawberry jam with with my grandmother. She still carries on this tradition of picking strawberries with my younger cousins and makes jam even at 75. Maybe this is what keeps her young?

I think just maybe! And I'm excited to announce that there is a fountain of youth in our own back yard. Yes, Piney Acres Farm, here in Fortville is at it again! Their U-Pick strawberries are just now coming in on the farm! Now is the time to start a tradition or carry on a tradition. My grandmother may be 5 hours away, but I will be thinking of her along the way while having fun with the kiddos and picking a few quarts at Piney Acres Farm with Rex Zenor and the gang. I absolutely adore how many farms, great farmers and local fresh are in our area! Here is Piney Acres Farm's strawberry season flyer for more info. They suggest calling before you head out to confirm the hours for the day and strawberry supply available that day.


My smallest helper ate the strawberries as fast as I could clean them!

Besides making jam, my other favorite thing to do is make my a delish strawberry pie that makes me think of my mom. I can remember getting into trouble as a youngster when I found a fresh container of Indiana grown strawberries in the fridge and well... helped myself to a few. I didn't know they were for a pie! Although after a few times of having this happen, I learned to ask before eating them. And yes, it is so worth the wait!

Here's the recipe for My Mom's (and my favorite) Strawberry Cream Pie:

Okay first off, I don't know about you, but I'm terrible at making crusts! So I keep it simple with a no roll crust.

No Roll Crust
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp sugar 
1/2 cup veg oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix all ingredients with a fork. Press into a 9 inch glass pie plate. Poke a few holes with a fork. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
Easier then rolling right?!

Let pie crust cool completely

Cream Filling
8 oz vanilla or strawberry Greek yogurt
1/3 cup sugar
8 oz whip cream
1 tsp almond extract 

Fold ingredients together. Once pie crust is cooled completely fill with cream filling.

Next, my favorite part, top with strawberries!

I like to use the biggest strawberries in the middle then work my way out filling with smaller.

Next chocolate topping!

1/2 cup semi sweet choc chips
1-2 tsp coconut oil

Pop in microwave for 25 seconds, mix, repeat till melted. Then drizzle strawberries!

So simple but impressive! You'll get raves about this pie!