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!