#HomeGrownStories – May

I can’t believe July is almost over! It still feels like summer just started and we’re already heading into August. The past several months have kept me pretty busy so I’m behind on sharing my monthly HGS recaps. Our May #HomeGrownStories are on The Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau’s blog. I want to highlight why our May interviewees love Miami County. ❤️
 
Continue to follow our series for more stories and share them with your friends, family, and neighbors using #HomeGrownStories!

#HomeGrownStories – Lisa Bauer

Lisa Bauer, a Clark County native, has given new life to a piece of downtown Troy history. In 2012 she bought the building which was the Mayflower Theatre. The building is now home to the Mayflower Arts Center, where Lisa is the director. Today the Mayflower offers painting parties, art classes and art exhibitions in downtown Troy.

What she loves about Miami County:
The people. Hands down, the people. Other than the fact that Troy has such a unique downtown and has so many nice things to offer. The people are amazing. No matter where you go in Miami County people are friendly and welcoming to everyone. I love the people — not only when I venture out, but when they come into the Mayflower Arts Center.

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#HomeGrownStories – Brittney Denning 

Brittney Denning is my younger sister. Growing up, I planned to travel the world and Brittney set her sights closer to home: Piqua. As we grew up, our perspectives changed. Brittney became the traveler. She has lived in big cities on the east and west coasts since graduating from Piqua High School. Brittney works as a designer at an architecture firm in Seattle, Washington. I’ve has stayed close to our childhood home. I’ve lived in Ohio my entire life and recently moved back to Miami County. I interviewed my sister to get a big city viewpoint on what it means to be Home Grown Great.

What she loves most about Miami County:
My family! My teachers, classmates, friends, and family. These people connect me to Miami County even though I don’t live there. I miss the things that are no longer in Miami County. The events that aren’t held anymore and some of the schools I went to are no longer standing.

I love seeing that a lot of the towns in Miami County are reinvesting in themselves. I realized that Piqua was working hard to revitalize the downtown area when they renovated Fort Piqua Plaza. That was awesome and it’s wonderful that they put in the effort. The Mainstreet organizations in the towns are doing a lot and there are a lot of new businesses opening up. I’m amazed that all these stores are opening in these small towns. They seem like big city stores to me and they’re thriving. Antique stores, Can’t Stop Running, Pachamama Market — I’m glad to see that they’re doing so well.

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#HomeGrownStories – Amy & Brent Welborn 

Wright On High is a new shop in downtown Covington which focuses on local and handmade products. The shop has been a long-time dream for owners, Amy and Brent Welborn. For years they have wanted to create space for their creative Miami County neighbors to shine. Amy, a native of Covington, Ohio, met her husband, Brent, when they were in college near Chicago. Brent grew up in Milwaukee, but the couple has called Covington home since 2000.

What do you love most about Miami County?

Amy – Since I grew up here there’s that feeling of home. I also love the community and that small-town feel. My great-grandfather owned a tree business here. He planted a lot of the evergreen trees in the cemetery. I’ve always loved walking in the cemetery and seeing the evergreen trees planted by my great-grandpa. Whenever we travel coming back home — it’s so nice to be home and come back to a small town.

Brent – Growing up in a big city, I could go to the store and not know anybody. You can’t do that here. Every time you go to the store there is somebody you know that you end up talking to or say hi to. Throughout all Miami County there is that sense of community. The friendliness of the people in the community is nice too.

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#HomeGrownStories – Scott Myers 

Scott Myers has served as the Director of the Miami County Parks District for the past five years. Growing up in rural Hancock County, Scott never aspired to work in agriculture or on a farm. Today he goes to work every day at the Historic Knoop Homestead. His office sits in the Knoop’s Victorian Era farmhouse. While he never expected to work on a farm, he enjoys every minute of it. Scott has called Troy home for half of his life and loves the sense of community in Miami County.

What he loves most about Miami County:
What I like the most about Miami County is the sense of community. It’s hard to describe, but people love to get together in Miami County. Folks love to go to festivals and events with other members of the community. We have concerts in downtown Troy or at Lock 9 Park in Piqua. There are festivals like the Troy Strawberry Festival and the Tipp City Mum Festival. My daughter is in the band at Troy High School. I can’t think of anywhere else you could have a local band fundraiser and sell 15,000 dozen strawberry donuts. We also have events like 5K runs and the Tour de Donut.

People love to spend time together and help each other out. That sense of community support and volunteerism is a tradition in Miami County. Our city and county parks are named after families that started this tradition. These families are the Hobarts, the Meekers, the Garbrys, the Knoops and the French family. That sense of volunteerism and community is why I love living in Miami County.

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#HomeGrownStories – Kazy Hinds

Piqua Mayor, Kazy Hinds, originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, is in her second year as mayor. During her time as Mayor, Kazy has promoted a positive image of Piqua while encouraging the community to be more active. Serving her community comes naturally to Kazy, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church. She has lived in many different places over the years but is happy to call Piqua home since 2008.

What she loves most about Miami County:
I love the beautiful area that we live in. I love that I can get out and hike the Buckeye Trail. I can walk, run or ride my bike on the bike path. I can get in the river and kayak. I’ve lived in places where I have to drive thirty to forty-five minutes to be able to do some of those things.

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#HomeGrownStories – Missy & Joe Duer

Missy and Joe Duer, both natives of Miami County, have deep roots that go back many generations. Today, the couple is bringing family and local history out of the past and into your liquor cabinet. Missy and Joe have reopened Missy’s family distillery in New Carlisle. Staley Mill Farm and Indian Creek Distillery use a family recipe for whiskey from 1820. They also reuse whiskey barrels to age locally harvested maple syrup. The couple offers tours of their distillery where guests learn about local history and the distilling process. The tour ends with an opportunity to sample their whiskey with their mixologist.

What they love most about Miami County:

Missy – Miami County is my home and it’s been my family’s home for over a hundred years. It has a wonderful past and holds so much for the future. There are lots of little, hidden gems. I love Tipp City. I have friends there and I used to have a business in Tipp City. It’s great for shopping and dining. Troy is ramping up and revitalizing its downtown. A hidden gem in West Milton is the Wertz’s Variety Store. We love it! It’s a fun, old-fashioned 5¢ and 10¢ store. There’s also the Pearson House Restaurant — we ate there today! We love Ludlow Falls and Charleston Falls. We have a precious little county here in Ohio with so many hidden gems. Some people have said that we’re a hidden gem too – we’re out here in the little “Appalachian hills” of Miami County. [laughs]

Joe – This is our home and has been our family’s home for many years. It will continue to be our home. Our children and grandchildren live in Miami County. We’re not city people! We were born and raised on the farm and we live on the farm now. I enjoy the wide-open spaces here. We are still within minutes of cities and villages, which makes it handy. We’re also not that far from the big city — Dayton. This is a great location – we love living here.

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#HomeGrownStories – Amber Sowers

Amber Sowers, a native of Troy, started ReU Juicery & Organic Kitchen in 2013 as a mobile business. In December 2016, ReU opened a brick and mortar store on the square in downtown Troy. The juicery specializes in cold-pressed juices but also sells smoothies, salads, wraps and smoothie bowls.

What she loves most about Miami County:
With the Strawberry Festival coming up, it reminds me of how awesome our community is. Troy is such a service driven community. The Strawberry Festival supports all our non-profit organizations in Miami County. It’s phenomenal — I love that!

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#HomeGrownStories – Chris Jackson 

Chris Jackson shares his love of our local rivers through Adventures on the Great Miami. He started his business in 2007 as a canoe and kayak livery. Along with canoeing and kayaking, Chris now offers river activities like river rafting and stand up paddle boarding. He also hosts outdoor events like primitive camping, concerts and food truck festivals. Adventures on the Great Miami plans to hold more community outdoor events and activities in the coming years.

What he loves most about Miami County:
I love the people of Miami County. The folks in Tipp City, Troy, Piqua and the surrounding areas are all very friendly and outgoing. They seem interested in getting involved in outdoor recreational activities as well. Miami County is a very warm, friendly community. I spend quite a bit of time in Tipp City. I know several local business owners there and I’m getting to know more in Troy.

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#HomeGrownStories – Corie Schweser  

Corie Schweser has made Troy her home for the past thirty years with her husband and sons. For the past three years, she has worked as the business manager of the Troy Strawberry Festival. This year the Strawberry Festival celebrates its 41st year in Miami County. The festival celebrates strawberries, community and supports local nonprofit organizations.

What she loves most about Miami County:
I love that Miami County has so many opportunities for outdoor activities. Piqua and Troy have great outdoor concert series. There’s the Miami County Riverway — you can go to Treasure Island and rent a kayak for a river adventure. We’re very blessed to have a strong parks system — in the county and cities. I like to take my grandson bike riding, we usually stop and get ice cream and then get back on the bike path. There are so many interesting things within this county. It’s beautiful! I love Fulton Farms and the farmer’s markets. I embrace every bit of it! Once the festival is over, I’ll have time to get out there and enjoy it. That’s another great thing about the festival being in June, I have the rest of the summer to enjoy the county! I love it!

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#HomeGrownStories – Jess Ervin  

Bushel & a Peck, a home decor business owned by Jess Ervin, started in an unconventional way. Jess struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety after her second daughter was born. As a way to cope, she started writing positive affirmations and making signs for herself. These signs told her that she was awesome and that she was enough. Seeing the affirmations every day made her believe in them. To share those positive vibes and lift others up, she started Bushel & a Peck. Jess is from Piqua and sells her signs in many different Miami County shops and on her website.

What she loves most about Miami County:
I love our parks and bike trails. The bike path in Piqua is my favorite because I’m a runner. I’ll do the whole loop — it’s a pleasant path. It’s a fun loop to do. If you want to walk it, it’s a great walking path too. It’s amazing. There are so many options and ways you can be active in Miami County. We have two great YMCAs in Miami County and programs through the Miami County Park District. It’s great when you can combine the outdoors and be active!

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I am continuing to enjoy interviewing and photographing my neighbors and members of our community. I can’t wait to share more stories you with about why we love Miami County. Look for the hashtag #HomeGrownStories and follow The Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau’s blog!

Red + Blue Giveaway from Thirty-One Gifts

I’m excited to be partnering with Thirty-One Gifts for my first giveaway on my blog!

The mission of Thirty-One is to empower women to run their own businesses. They do this through their direct sales program. They sell purses, totes, home organization products, jewelry, and more. Thirty-One also has a philanthropic side of the business, Thirty-One Gives. They partner with non-profit organizations that focus on building confidence in women and girls.

Check out my post, Tiny Purse from Thirty-One Gifts – Review, for more reasons to love Thirty-One. To find out about my giveaway, and how to enter, keep reading!

Thirty-One and I have partnered to give one of my lucky readers two of my favorite Thirty-One products. We’re giving away the Tons of Funds Wallet and the Large Utility Tote. I chose to review these products in colors that are near and dear to my heart. Red and blue are the colors of my high school and hometown, Piqua. These were the colors I wore when I ran cross country, competed in Science Olympiad and ran the school paper. My teammates and I even found red and blue mascara to show our school spirit!

Let’s chat about the items we’re giving away and why they’re fabulous!

Tons of Funds is my favorite Thirty-One Gifts item. It only has space for the essentials. I can fit my driver’s license, money, credit cards, keys and a few small items like lip balm, a small pill bottle or a pen. It makes a great wallet and an even better mini purse!

Tons of Funds comes in a lot of bright colors. I love my original Daring Cobalt Pebble (this color is no longer available). Very Cherry Pebble is starting to grow on me. Ever since I started using this purse, I’ve noticed this exact shade of red everywhere! It gives a nice pop of color to my outfits, I prefer to dress in neutrals: gray, black and dark blue. A bright little bag is the amount of color I want most days.

Thirty-One’s Large Utility Tote is a great option when you need to carry a lot! I have used it for family gatherings and a picnic in the park. I’ve been able to fit board games, slippers (I can’t be the only one who takes slippers with them to visit family… can I?) and food to family holiday parties.

It’d also be great for backyard barbecues and shopping at the farmers market. It has a ton of space – you could use it for toting towels, sunscreen and snacks to the beach or the pool. I’m sure it’d be helpful for corralling kids toys or baby gear. The options are endless with this much space!

Making a summer picnic with some of my favorite local foods is my favorite way to use the Large Utility Tote. I picked up a fresh loaf of sourdough bread from Bakehouse Bread & Cookie Company. Rosebud’s Ranch & Garden has delicious fruit butters. I grabbed Vanilla Cherry Plum Fruit Butter and Strawberry Rhubarb Fruit Butter. I packed a nice homemade salad with veggies from the Farmer’s Market and a little wine. Loaded up the Large Utility Tote and I had a simple and delicious summer picnic for two!

I have two Large Utility Totes right now. One in Charcoal Crosshatch and another in Blue Crosshatch. The Blue Crosshatch bag has custom embroidery on it. Check out Thirty-One’s online catalog to play with patterns and embroidery. Pick the product and pattern you want and click Personalize & Order. You can choose what kind of personalization you want, I went with my last name. Choose the style of your personalization, including font, text and thread color. Then click Preview Personalization to see your creation!

Enter to win your own Tons of Funds Wallet and the Large Utility Tote below! Fill out the Rafflecopter (not to be confused with ROFLcopter). You have a chance for 16 entries! Share this post with your friends! The lucky reader who wins will be able to customize their Large Utility Tote with embroidery of their choice!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This Ohio Life giveaway is open to US Residents 18+ until 11:59PM EST on July 21, 2017. The winner will be drawn using Rafflecopter’s Random Number Generator. All entries will be verified, so play fair! I will notify the winner via e-mail and they will have 48 hours to reply before I redraw winners. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. This contest is not affiliated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram in any way. Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. If you have any questions, please contact Courtney at thisohiolife [at] gmail [dot] com. Good Luck!

 

Thank you Thirty-One Gifts!

ohio-120x120Thirty-One Gifts

Address: 3425 Morse Crossing, Columbus, Ohio 43219

Phone Number: 1-866-GIFTS31

Social Media: FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitterYouTube

Thank you to Thirty-One Gifts, a Columbus-based company, for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

#HomeGrownStories – April

Our April #HomeGrownStories are on The Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau’s blog! I’m excited to share why Miami County is such an awesome place to live and a fun place to visit!

Get ready to feel the wanderlust – this month I am highlighting my interviewees’ favorite places in the county. With all of these wonderful recommendations for restaurants, shopping and events – I’m sure you’ll find yourself in Miami County soon! These are just snippets of the interviews – be sure to read the full interviews (and check out more photos) on The Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau’s blog!

Continue to follow our series for more stories and share them with your friends, family, and neighbors using #HomeGrownStories.


#HomeGrownStories – Amber Lange

Rosebud’s Ranch & Garden was started in 2013 by Covington native Amber Lange. Her passion for cooking and desire to feed both family and community with healthy food led her to create delicious seasoning mixes and unique fruit butters. All are made with ingredients which are homegrown or locally sourced as much as possible. Her seasonings and fruit butters are a wonderful way to liven up any meal. In addition to selling her products, Amber also teaches classes on healthy eating throughout Miami County.

Her Miami County recommendations for out of town visitors:
I definitely recommend visiting the farmer’s markets during the summer! There are wonderful stores and little mom-and-pop shops throughout the county. My favorite restaurant is Basil’s on Market in Troy and I enjoy going to the Fort Piqua Plaza and the Piqua Public Library. I love the Johnston Farm & Indian Agency and Brukner Nature Center. Stillwater Prairie Reserve is my favorite park. It’s more remote and secluded than the other parks and it’s about five minutes from my home.

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#HomeGrownStories – Melissa Cairns

Melissa Cairns, an Ohio native who has called Tipp City home for over 30 years, has created a unique specialty toy shop for all ages in downtown Tipp City. Cairns began as Cairns Collectibles in the early 1980s and included a mix of vintage items, antiques and specialty dolls and bears. Today Melissa hand selects dolls, books, games, puzzles and other toys which she sells out of her blue tiled downtown store. Cairns Toys has been in its present location on Main Street in historic downtown Tipp City since 1998.

Her favorite Miami County spots:
Well, of course, we really like the downtown Tipp restaurants: Coldwater Cafe, Harrison’s and Greenfire Bistro at the other end of town. Sam & Ethel’s is perfect for the little “mom and pop” diner feel. In Troy we love La Fiesta, The Caroline, La Piazza — last night we were up at El Sombrero, so we love going up that way too. All of those are our favorites, it’s hard to pick one! The Strawberry Festival is a pretty big deal and we have our own Mum Festival here in Tipp City. It’s pretty cool when WACO Museum has their fly-in. I was just up there judging their Lego contest. The car shows we have are always pretty well attended, especially the Trans Am Show in August. We love taking our dogs for walks at Charleston Falls Preserve.

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#HomeGrownStories – Ben Spinks

Ben Spinks is the Hospital Administrator at Tipp City Veterinary Hospital (TCVH) where he has worked since 2004. Outside of his role at TCVH, Ben helps other veterinary hospitals and small businesses run more efficiently through Branchworth Consulting. Away from work, he enjoys traveling, reading, cycling, and spending time with family and friends. Ben is a 2004 graduate of Miami University (B.Phil.) and 2014 graduate of Wright State University (MBA). He lives in Tipp City with his dogs, Claire and Finn, and cat, Oscar.

His Tipp City dining recommendations:
I normally recommend visitors try out Coldwater Cafe, Harrison’s Restaurant, and Sam & Ethel’s. To be clear, there are a lot of great places to eat at in Tipp City, but those three are my go-to recommendations – (mainly because those are the restaurants I frequent most often). All three have unique atmospheres, serve great food, and offer friendly service.

What makes dining in Tipp City great?
More than anything, for such a small community, I’ve always been impressed with the variety and quality of non-chain restaurants that call Tipp City home. From award winning BBQ and the numerous local bars and coffee shops, to the creative dishes and charming locations available in historic downtown – Tipp City has more than its fair share of great dining options!

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#HomeGrownStories – Kelsea Wiggins

Kelsea Wiggins has lived in Ohio for her entire life. She is a lifestyle blogger and a social media strategist for an ad agency in downtown Columbus.

On her favorite place in Miami County:
Main Street in Troy owns a chunk of my heart. A large chunk. I spent a lot of time getting to know the ladies who run the Miami County Visitors and Conventions Bureau so that I could audit their social performance and provide them with a content strategy. What ended up happening was that I fell in love with the souls inside of that building, which I suspect happens to all who meet them. Suddenly, any “work” I had to do for MCVCB did not become “work” at all, but something to look forward to. The 90+ minute drive became the highlight of my week. The cup of coffee from Winans Chocolates + Coffees waiting for me, my reward. I was so enchanted with this town and more importantly, the beautiful people who lived in it. It absolutely captivated me and I miss it (and them) every day.

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#HomeGrownStories – Becky Crow

Miami County native Becky Crow is the Curator of Wildlife at Brukner Nature Center. Brukner is a nature center and an authority on native Ohio wildlife rehabilitation. Becky has worked at Brukner since 2005. She cares for the wildlife ambassadors and the around 1,000 rehab animals that come to Brukner each year. Brukner releases most of these animals back to the wild. I interviewed Becky while she fed baby Grey Squirrels and a Red Fox kit!

Her Miami County recommendations for out of town visitors:
There are a lot of really great things to do in Miami County, so it depends on what their interests are. That’s another unique thing about Miami County, there’s a lot of variety in what people can do here. If they’re interested in the arts they can go to the Mayflower Arts Center or the Troy Civic Theater. You can visit Johnston Farm & Indian Agency and learn a little history. You can go hiking at Brukner Nature Center or a great park like Charleston Falls Preserve. The greatest thing about Miami County is the variety. You don’t come to Miami County only for nature, only for good food or good shopping. We have all those things and more.

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#HomeGrownStories – Kristy Reis

Kristy Reis has lived in Tipp City for most of her life. She grew up being inspired by her mom, Melissa Cairns, for her entrepreneurial spirit and creativity. In 2011, Kristy followed in her mother’s footsteps by opening her own business next to her mom’s shop Cairns Toys. SWEET By Kristy is a boutique bakery, confectionery, and ice cream scoop shop, located in historic downtown Tipp City. The bakery features a variety of handmade ‘tastastic’ and beautiful treats including gourmet cupcakes, cookies, gluten-free brownies, fudge, chocolate dipped sweets and more!

Her recommendations of things to do and places to visit in Miami County:
There are so many different creative events in Miami County! We have car shows, the Tipp City Mum Festival, the Troy Strawberry Festival, and Canal Music Fest in Tipp. There’s just so many different things to do (which is really great), I don’t think I can have one favorite. For dining in Miami County, I like Sam & Ethel’s in Tipp for breakfast, Mojos Bar & Grille in Troy for drinks and sandwiches, and Coldwater Cafe in Tipp for dinner. Getting outside, I love Charleston Falls Preserve and I really like walking on the bike trail. I really like to play frisbee golf [laughs] along the bike trail here in town.

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#HomeGrownStories – Laurie Reiser

Laurie Winans Reiser has lived in Miami County for most of her life. When she didn’t live in Miami County she lived in Dayton and later Columbus where she met her husband, Joe Reiser. Together they own Winans Chocolates + Coffees. Laurie’s father and uncle started the Piqua candy business in October 1961.

Her Miami County recommendations for out of town visitors:
Besides coming to see us, having a cup of coffee or going on a tour, my recommendation is to visit Johnston Farm & Indian Agency in Piqua. It’s my favorite place in the world. I have friends from other parts of Ohio and Johnston Farm is their favorite Ohio historic site as well. It’s rich in so many ways and there’s something there for the entire family. The kids can run around outside and play games like kids did in the 1800s. You can go for a walk in the fields and look at the horses or the couple hundred-year-old barns. You can learn about the Indians and the glaciers — it’s all there. You can ride a canal boat! We always take people from outside of the country to visit Johnston Farm.

We also have a lot of nice restaurants, from burger joints to good breakfast places — we frequent them all [laughs]. I love The Taste of the Arts in Piqua. That’s a fun well-done event and it revolves around food [laughs]! I like the Troy Strawberry Festival and I like the holiday festivals that Tipp City does. Charleston Falls Preserve is a great park as is Hobart Urban Nature Preserve and Garbry Big Woods. The Piqua Linear Park Bike Path is fantastic!

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#HomeGrownStories – Heather Dorsten

Heather Dorsten has served as the Director of Downtown Tipp City for the past three years. She organizes a variety of downtown events with local business owners. Heather has lived in Miami County for ten years. She and her husband live at Angry Hippie Farms with their son. They raise chickens, ducks, and bees. Their honey is available at Bodega Wine and Specialty Foods Market in downtown Tipp City.

Her Miami County recommendations for out of town visitors:
I tend to take people to Coldwater Cafe. It’s my favorite place if you’re looking for an upscale restaurant to have a nice lunch. But, if you want an awesome burger you go to Sam & Ethel’s — it’s so good! It’s hard to choose one. My son will say Sweet by Kristy because as soon as we drive into town he’s talking about ice cream before we even park. I’m like, “how do you know this?” I bring my friends downtown, especially if they’re from out of town. I tell them what I do but they don’t always get it. So when I bring them to the district they’re so impressed just by the shopping and dining. It’s wonderful to be able to walk around, Tipp City is extremely walkable. Charleston Falls Preserve is a great place for a walk and is gorgeous and it’s close to home so it’s my favorite. I love Lost Creek Reserve & Knoop Agricultural Heritage Center also.

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I am continuing to enjoy interviewing and photographing my neighbors and members of our community. I can’t wait to share more stories you with about why Miami County is such an amazing place to visit. Look for the hashtag #HomeGrownStories and follow The Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau’s blog!

Creating Space: Part 1

 
Recently I’ve been on a mission* to get rid of stuff. To purge unnecessary items. To cut out clutter. To simplify. In essence, to create space.
 
*(does anyone immediately think of Nickelodeon magazine when they hear the phrase “on a mission”? I know I can’t be the only one)
 
Physical clutter is frustrating for a lot of people, how else would we have an entire store dedicated to containing all our stuff? I love The Container Store as much as the next organizer fanatic but the issue is about more than clutter. Even if everything I own right now was 100% organized in my home, the excess would still bother me. Those tidy and organized boxes are still holding things, things I may never use again. These are things I don’t need to hold on to.
 
Sometimes my anxiety seems related to the amount of clutter and stuff around me. I almost feel claustrophobic, like my collections of things will trap me. I’m weighed down by my material possessions and I obsess over how to reduce them.
 
I’ve always preferred neat and tidy. But my recent fascination with downsizing and getting rid of things is new. I blame a lot of it on moving twice in two years — does anyone like packing? Or moving heavy boxes up and down two and then three flights of stairs? How about unpacking?  I hate moving. I hate moving and every time my husband I moved I realized we still had too much stuff. Even though we’re done moving for a while (we bought our first house in August of last year) I still want to get rid of things we don’t need.
 
Another event that has inspired my desire to simplify is my grandmother’s passing. My Grandma, Ruby, died in 2014. Soon after, my family went through all her belongings that my Grandpa wasn’t keeping. My Grandma was a collector. She collected so many different, interesting things: ruby glass, vintage and vintage-esque food tins, jewelry, cardinal figurines and more. She was also an avid crafter. She painted gorgeous ceramics and made her own jewelry. Seeing all her belongings laid out in my aunt’s basement made it feel like she was with us. I even found an empty perfume bottle: it smelled like her.
 
That afternoon going through my Grandma’s things was cathartic. It was bittersweet but educational – I learned things about my Grandma I had never known. My dad and my aunt shared stories from their childhood and my sister and I recounted ours with our cousins. But what do we do with all her things? We took turns picking items to keep, a ruby glass piece or a cardinal figurine. I selected several pieces of jewelry and some of her vintage style food tins. But even after everyone had chosen something to remember Grandma by, we still had so much. It was overwhelming! At first, we worried that if we didn’t keep it, it meant we didn’t love her. But we realized that Grandma wasn’t contained in the things she left behind. We keep her alive in our memories of her and by talking about her. This helped us be able to choose items to donate or sell at a garage sale later in the year.
 
This experience made an impact on my parents and my aunt and uncle. They didn’t want to leave a bunch of things for me and my sister or my cousins to sort through and wonder about. “Why did they keep this?” or “What should I do with this?”. Our semi-regular family garage sale that year was huge. We all went on purging sprees. We actually held more than one garage sale at many family members houses — sometimes at the same time! 
 
The last reason that I’ve been especially focused on reducing for the past few years or so is that I’ve been reading more about simple living and minimalism. The idea that we don’t need more stuff to make us happy is appealing. I follow blogs about minimalism and listen to podcasts on the topic. I save tips on how to purge your closet of the clothes you don’t love and read books about decluttering.
 
I’ve decided to share a little of my journey in “creating space” with you. It’ll be a multi-part series. I’ll share some of my experiences along with the tools I’ve found most helpful along the way. A post on what I did with all my excess stuff is a must as is a post on how to not fall back into the same habits again.