Horton’s of Tipton

Over the weekend I attended the Christmas Open House at one of my favorite little shops–Horton’s of Tipton. Horton’s is unique because half the shop is a hardware store where you can buy anything from blinds to paint, and the other half is a shabby chic paradise (AND, get this–they have a case full of fresh, homemade fudge). There is also a garden area outside the shop where you can find plants, flowers, pumpkins, and more; around Christmastime, there are plenty of live Christmas trees and garlands.

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There are so many things in the above photo that I love, I don’t even know where to begin. First of all, those antlers are on POINT (see what I did there?). I am a huge fan of vintage white crockery–especially ironstone, of which there is plenty at Horton’s–so I adore that sweet little pitcher and the creamers. And can we talk about the light fixture made out of egg baskets? At this point, you’re all either entering Horton’s into your Google Maps app or trying to figure out how you can make one of those light fixtures yourself.

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Pretty bows and beautiful linens everywhere you look!

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A great mix of old and new…

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This is a little peek at the new children’s boutique in Horton’s…too cute!

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Do they have clothes? Of course they have clothes…

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Pink jingle bell wrapping paper with matching tags and greeting cards! I can’t stand it!

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img_0276“I saw three ships come sailing in on Christmas Day in the morning.” Nautical Christmas theme–brilliant!

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img_0288This lamp…un-be-liev-a-ble.

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Feeling sad that you missed out on the Christmas Open House at Horton’s of Tipton? Don’t miss the Christmas Vendor Market on December 3rd!

A Very Vintage Christmas at Home

When you’re in retail or are a small business owner like I am, you start preparing for Christmas in October. AND YET, the Christmas season has still gone so quickly this year and seems to have gotten away from me.

I quit my full-time job in mid-October, and we left for a vacation to Disney World and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter the next day (excellent timing, right?). My children’s book was officially published as soon as we got back, and I got right to work promoting it. I spent November stocking the booth for our Christmas Open House, went back to working full-time (at a temporary job–not the same job that I left!) the day before Thanksgiving, and hosted Thanksgiving. I had my first unofficial book signings with my family over the Thanksgiving holiday and my first official book signing in Now and Then Booth Space at Logan Village Mall in Noblesville, Indiana the following weekend. I followed that with a visit to Sheridan Elementary School to read Wilson’s Best Day to 16 classes of preschool-5th grade students. I was also blessed and honored this month to begin tutoring a bright young lady who is working on publishing her own book. I don’t think I’ve ever been so busy during the holiday season, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful to be so busy.

Those who are close to me know that I was out of work nearly the entire year of 2014, and it was an all around extremely difficult year. We dealt with a lot of disappointment. Thank God, 2015 has been very different. I’m very grateful to be so busy because it means I am flooded with opportunities.

Anyway…back to the point…the Christmas season has nearly gotten away from me! I’m looking forward to having a few days to rest and watch all of those Christmas movies I’ve been meaning to watch and do all the snuggling on the couch I’ve been meaning to do and getting around to replacing the starter box in the fireplace so that I can do all the curling up by the fire that I’ve been meaning to do (although I don’t really need the fireplace when it’s still an impossible 60 degrees in Indiana).

And on to the very vintage Christmas decor…I love the addition of this shabby little garland to our Christmas tree this year. I got a bag of scrap ticking stripe material, vintage doilies that had been cut in half, and ribbons at a yard sale earlier this year. I’ve been going through a lace and doily phase, and as you all know, I love to use all different shades of white in my décor. I decided to put those little scraps to work on the tree.

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My mom got this little vintage tree skirt for a dollar at a sale and gave it to me. I adore it.

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I stopped into Michael’s a few weeks ago, and wreathes were on sale for $3.00…$3.00!! I hadn’t planned on getting any, but I had to after seeing the price. Their ribbon was also 60% off, so I was able to pull off some very cheap additions to the porch decorations. I really love this black and red houndstooth ribbon. It would be awesome as a garland on a tree, but I’m thinking of using the leftover to tie ribbons on presents that have yet to be wrapped—something else I’ve been meaning to do!

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Instead of being overwhelmed, I have been striving to be present in each moment this busy holiday season. I have chosen to put certain opportunities on the back burner, and while I’ve been busy, I have chosen to not exhaust myself so that my little family and I can find some rest, peace, and joy—the things about which Christmas is supposed to be.

You may be overwhelmed for different reasons this Christmas. You may be overwhelmed with financial issues, family problems, sickness, sadness, loneliness, or grief. You may simply be overwhelmed with busyness and striving to make Christmas perfect for your family. Whatever you are overwhelmed with, know this: we always have a reason to celebrate on Christmas because God gave us the gift of His son, who walks with us through all of life’s mess and gives us the peace, rest, mercy, and grace that we need. Renee Swope put it this way: “Instead of feeling overwhelmed during this busy season, let’s choose to be overjoyed with the fact that Jesus was born.”

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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A Very Vintage Christmas: How to Get the Look

Thank you for joining me again in my series, “A Very Vintage Christmas!” I regard the following items as some of the essentials to incorporate in your decor if you’re trying to achieve the look and feel of a classic, beautiful, very vintage Christmas. As the song goes, “these are a few of my favorite things.” My writing will be very brief in this blog post because these pictures speak for themselves!

Mercury Glass Ornaments

mercury glass ornaments
myvillavanilla.blogspot.nl
soulstyle.ca
soulstyle.ca
www.sadieolive.com
sadieolive.com

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Grain Sack and Linen Stockings

Cable knit and fair isle-style stockings can also have a great vintage look and feel to them.

myrusticfarmhouse.blogspot.com
myrusticfarmhouse.blogspot.com
frenchlarkspur.blogspot.com
frenchlarkspur.blogspot.com
black and white grain sack stocking
atEdenDesigns-Etsy
PillowBeach-Etsy
PillowBeach-Etsy

Candles and Lanterns

johanna-vintage.blogspot.com
johanna-vintage.blogspot.com

lantern christmas post card

candles in window

www.town-n-country-living.com
http://www.town-n-country-living.com

Sleds and Sleighs

rustyhinge.blogspot.com
rustyhinge.blogspot.com
zsazsabellagio.blogspot.de
zsazsabellagio.blogspot.de
thecottagemarket.com
thecottagemarket.com
hannashantverk.blogspot.nl
hannashantverk.blogspot.nl
celebratingeverydaylife.com
celebratingeverydaylife.com

Sleigh Bells

rustyhinge.blogspot.com
rustyhinge.blogspot.com
napastyle.com
napastyle.com
cozycottagecute.com
cozycottagecute.com
blog.hgtv.com
blog.hgtv.com
christinechitnis.com
christinechitnis.com

Ice Skates

greenwillowpond.com
greenwillowpond.com
warrengrovegarden.blogspot.com
warrengrovegarden.blogspot.com
Sugar Ridge Creations on Pinterest
Sugar Ridge Creations on Pinterest
hometalk.com
hometalk.com
laboutiquevintage.co.uk
laboutiquevintage.co.uk
amarchhare on Etsy
amarchhare on Etsy

Bottle Brush Trees

ellaclaireinspired.com
ellaclaireinspired.com
nobiggie.net
nobiggie.net
nobiggie.net
nobiggie.net
sugarpiefarmhouse.com
sugarpiefarmhouse.com
misskopykat.blogspot.com
misskopykat.blogspot.com

Monochromatic and Soft-Hued Nativity Scenes

edithandevelynvintage.com
edithandevelynvintage.com
allthingsshabbyandbeautiful.tumbler.com
allthingsshabbyandbeautiful.tumblr.com
edithandevelynvintage.com
edithandevelynvintage.com
gracefully-vintage.com
gracefully-vintage.com
carlaaston.com
carlaaston.com
celebrationsinthecatholichome.com
celebrationsinthecatholichome.com
oursouthernhomesc.com
oursouthernhomesc.com
vintage baby jesus illustration
“Let’s Pray” First Prayers book, illustrated by Charlot Byj, American Church Publications, copyright 1952

Merry Christmas and happy decorating, everyone! Stay tuned for more in my series “A Very Vintage Christmas.”

A Very Vintage Christmas: Indiana/Midwest Holiday Shopping

Hello, beloved!

I’m starting a new series this year entitled “A Very Vintage Christmas,” and for my first post in the series, I want to share with you a list of some amazing holiday markets.

I know I won’t be able to make it out to all of these events; less is more, especially around the holidays. This is my vintage Christmas shopping bucket list, if you will (or even if you won’t).

Hobnob Holiday Market–Danville, IL

The Hobnob Market takes place a few times a year in Illinois, and is “not your Grandma’s antique show.” The indoor Holiday Market features more than 100 antique, vintage, and junque vendors and artisans. The best part is that you can shop to the sounds of live holiday music while enjoying a snack from a number of food vendors or sipping a cocktail.

This year there are two weekend markets–a total of four dates–with completely different vendors each weekend. Tickets are limited for the exclusive, first-look “Making Merry Parties” on the evenings of Friday, November 20 and Friday, December 4. Tickets must be purchased in advance for the Party, but your ticket for the Making Merry Party is also good for admission to the Market the next day.

At only $5, the price of admission to the Hobnob Holiday Market on Saturday, November 21 or Saturday, December 5 is a steal! At that price, you can afford to attend both weekends.

https://hobnobmarket.com/

http://issuu.com/hobnobmarket/docs/lookbook_whole_holiday_2015

Photo Credit: hobnobmarket.com
Photo Credit: hobnobmarket.com
Photo Credit: hobnobmarket.com
Photo Credit: hobnobmarket.com
Photo Credit: hobnobmarket.com
Photo Credit: hobnobmarket.com

Horton’s of Tipton Christmas Vendor Market–Tipton, IN

Overwhelmed by large markets, but still looking for the charm and variety of a vintage holiday market? Horton’s packs a whole lot of French and farm-inspired charm into a smaller space. Admission is free, and Horton’s seasonal markets always feature a great range of reasonably-priced gifts, handmades, antiques, furniture, decor, and general  vintage wares from a number of vendors. You’ll also find a case full of homemade fudge, as well as Christmas trees, garlands, and wreaths. There’s nothing like the shopping a Midwestern small town has to offer for the holidays! This year’s market is December 5th.

hortonsoftipton.blogspot.com

Photo Credit: facebook.com/Hortons-of-Tipton
Photo Credit: facebook.com/Hortons-of-Tipton
Photo Credit: facebook.com/Hortons-of-Tipton
Photo Credit: facebook.com/Hortons-of-Tipton
Photo Credit: facebook.com/Hortons-of-Tipton
Photo Credit: facebook.com/Hortons-of-Tipton

Indie Arts and Vintage Marketplace Holiday Shoppapalooza–Indianapolis, IN

Of all the Indie Arts and Vintage Marketplace events that take place throughout the year, the Holiday Shoppapalooza has to be the most fun. Around 100 vendors take over the South Pavilion of the Indiana State Fair Grounds with everything from clothes to jewelry to decor to furniture and beyond. If you especially fancy mid-century modern, this is the place for you. Food trucks and adult beverages add to the fun for junquers. You can find many of the Midwest’s favorite vintage vendors and artisans at any given Indie Arts and Vintage Marketplace–imagine this event covered in Christmas! Admission is just $5, but be prepared for some serious shopping–over 1,000 guests are expected to attend this year’s event on November 21!

http://www.indyartsvintage.com/

Featured, Hoosier Sister. Photo Credit: facebook.com/iavmindy
Featured, Hoosier Sister. Photo Credit: facebook.com/iavmindy
Featured, Urban Barn. Photo Credit: facebook.com/iavmindy
Featured, Urban Barn. Photo Credit: facebook.com/iavmindy

Chandelier Barn Market Country Christmas–Montgomery, IN

The Wilson family opens up their working farm, packing barns full of vendors and shoppers for the Chandelier Barn Market. Live music, food, primitives, upcycled goods, jewelry, clothes, and handmades of all kinds can be found both indoors and outdoors in a great country setting. The event has already passed this year, but prepare for a great, early holiday shopping adventure on the farm next November! Admission this year was $5.

http://www.chandelierbarnmarket.com/

Photo Credit: facebook.com/chandelierbarnmarket
Photo Credit: facebook.com/chandelierbarnmarket
Photo Credit: facebook.com/chandelierbarnmarket
Photo Credit: facebook.com/chandelierbarnmarket
Featured, Pretty Pistol. Photo Credit: facebook.com/chandelierbarnmarket
Featured, Pretty Pistol. Photo Credit: facebook.com/chandelierbarnmarket

I would love to hear about your favorite holiday markets in the comments below! Stay tuned for more in my series “A Very Vintage Christmas.”

 

Boone County Uniques

If you blink while driving through Boone County, Indiana, you might miss Advance. Yet, this small, rural town consisting of but a few hundred people is home to the storefront of Sid’s famous junque business, Boone County Uniques. Sid believes and has proven that location isn’t necessarily what makes a business successful.

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His business has taken many shapes and names over the years, but at the heart of it, Sid is a traveling salesman, and not in the traditional sense. He’s been buying, rebuilding, repurposing, and selling everything from architectural salvage to pots and pans since he was five years old. His uncle and his father taught the Salem, Indiana native the trade, beginning with refinishing furniture.

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“My uncle taught me to look at something not for what it is, but for what it could be,” remembers Sid. “I was doing the Pinterest thing before Pinterest was ever around.”

He considers himself somewhat of a gypsy. For years, he has traveled the country selling unique, antique, wholesale, and items of all kinds at flea markets. “There is definitely a culture to it. You never know who you’re going to meet. There are a lot of just good, fun people.”

Sid’s favorite event is the 127 Yard Sale—the world’s longest yard sale, covering over 690 miles from Michigan to Alabama. He camps out for four days in Junction City, Kentucky every August to sell his wares and to meet people from all sides of the U.S. Networking with people at events like these is Sid’s specialty.

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“You don’t have to give away all of your secrets, but where do you get all of this stuff?” I had to inquire, because even at the greatest of auctions, I’ve never been able to obtain a haul like the ones so often featured on the Boone County Uniques page where Sid’s truck is stacked, packed, and piled high with furniture after a day of pickin’. The man literally doesn’t even have to tie the stuff down—that’s how crazy it is.

“Mostly individuals,” he replies casually.

I marvel at the dozens of stacks of business cards displayed on his counter, representing small business owners like himself. “So you just know a lot of people with a lot of stuff.” When you’ve been doing this for as long as he has and when you love meeting people as much as Sid does, you get to know a lot of people…with a lot of stuff.

“There can’t be competition in this business. We have to help each other. If there’s something I don’t have that a customer is looking for, I can send them over to you, and one day, you’ll send a customer over my way.”

boone county uniques packed truck

Photo courtesy of Boone County Uniques

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In the past, Sid has organized flea markets with as many as 300 vendors. He wanted to bring a true, unique flea market to the Boone County area, so he organized Robin Eye Country Flea Market a few years ago on his niece’s property in Whitestown, Indiana. It grew to include dozens of shabby chic, primitive, antique, and vintage vendors and was a favorite weekend activity for junquers from all over the Indianapolis area from the spring through the fall.

When the property was sold, Sid found a storefront property in the little town of Advance. He planned on using the building for storage, but people took notice. Boone County Uniques was born in 2014 when he decided to open the doors for business a few days a week. People who knew Sid from Robin Eye can now find the same great deals on items that can’t be found anywhere else on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays at Boone County Uniques. You also won’t find the same items on any given visit, as merchandise moves quickly through the packed store, and Sid is constantly procuring new items and working on new projects. The flea market still takes place every first Saturday of the month behind the store.

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boone county uniques flea market

Photo courtesy of Boone County Uniques

People come from far and wide for the unbeatable selection and prices at the flea market. A mother and daughter travel from Austin, Texas every first Saturday during Boone County Unique’s flea market season, while another couple from Illinois never misses a sale.

In between days at the store, you can find Boone County Uniques at pop-up markets and fleas anywhere from Nashville, Tennessee to the legendary Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County, Indiana. After all, Sid is still a gypsy at heart. To him, this business isn’t a job—it’s a way of life.

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Boone County Uniques setting up their booth at the Hobnob Holiday Market in Danville, IL. Photo courtesy of Boone County Uniques. 

boone county uniques welcome friends

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Check out Boone County Uniques at 104 N. Main St., Advance, IN. Like and follow them on Facebook to see where you can find them at their next pop-up market! 

Giggle Gal Boutique

If you ever find yourself on a shopping excursion in Noblesville, Indiana and make your way to Logan Village Mall, you’ll most likely be greeted by Tammy Daubenspeck’s smiling face and hear her famous giggle. She can often be found socializing with shoppers, graciously assisting customers, and keeping her booth spaces–aptly named Giggle Gal Boutique and Giggle Gal Boutique, Too—freshly stocked with trendy home décor and Boho-chic fashions.

DSCN0688DSCN0706“I feel like I’m back home, and I just love it here,” says Tammy, who had been out of retail for a few years when an LVM employee suggested she start up a booth space again in 2014. “I love seeing people, and I really missed that.”

While working as a sales associate at Logan Village Mall, Tammy first started selling home décor and gift items in a small space inside the store around Christmastime in 2001.

“It took off a lot faster and much better than I thought. The biggest sellers were these little ornaments. People were buying them like crazy, and I thought, ‘Now, I can do this!’”

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Tammy soon moved her business into a full-sized booth space inside the shop and even quit working to focus on her business full-time. She left to pursue other ventures not quite a year later, but as she explains it, she’s back “home” to stay.

One of Tammy’s jobs in the following years included managing a popular downtown Noblesville store with her sister, Tina. Patrons nicknamed the store “The Giggle Place,” referring to Tammy and Tina’s infectious laughter. When Tammy decided to bring her business back to LVM, her family suggested she name it “Giggle Gal Boutique” to pay homage to her bubbly reputation.

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Giggle Gal Boutique has expanded several times over already since its debut. It now occupies two rooms—one for home décor, and one for apparel. In both rooms, you will find products that give back in some way, whether it’s to community causes or even to talented artisans and their small business ventures. A portion of the proceeds from “The Home T”s benefit multiple sclerosis research, while the purchase of a pair of Ginger Snaps flip flops supports their Soles4Souls project, which provides free shoes for impoverished children and adults worldwide. Certain products help support education and job training for struggling women.

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Purchasing a pair of Ginger Snaps flip flops supports “Soles4Souls,” which provides free pairs of shoes to impoverished children and adults around the world.

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A portion of the proceeds from “The Home T”s benefit multiple sclerosis research.

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Tammy is always on the hunt for talented individuals who offer unique wares, and she strives to support other small business owners. These hand-painted wooden signs are specially made by a local artist, while a new line of tees (below, bottom row) are designed and printed by an individual in Minnesota. 

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As far as apparel and gifts go, Tammy likes to carry products with positive, uplifting messages. Many items boast mottos by which she lives her own life, such as “Live happy” and “”It is well with my soul.” Unlike many boutiques, Giggle Gal also offers on-trend clothing for women of all ages and sizes. According to her, every woman should be able to look pretty and stylish.

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Whether you’re looking for clothing with a unique message, a pop of fun in your home décor, or a girly gift that can’t be found at a big-box store, Giggle Gal Boutique delivers new products that brighten your day with every visit.

Check out Giggle Gal Boutique inside Logan Village Mall–977 Logan Street, Noblesville, IN–or on Facebook, and give it a “like”!

Now and Then

This Featured Small Business is a special one because it’s my mom and sister’s business! I have a very small role in this “story”; I’ll be referring to myself later in this post in the third-person. 

Mother and daughter team Monica and Nina are the dynamic duo behind Now and Then at Logan Village Mall in historic downtown Noblesville, Indiana. You can often find one or both of them stocking the booth with vintage Fiestaware and custom-made lamps on a weekday or moving a newly acquired antique cabinet in on a weekend.

Nina and Mom chair

Now and Then manequin

Now and Then tea pot lamp

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“My love for antiques began in the late ‘70s,” explains Monica. She and her husband were avid collectors. Weekends were often spent attending auctions and visiting antique stores, and their children were inevitably brought along. “The kids were always with us. Nina grew up around this kind of stuff.”

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Now and Then basket and tables

Now and Then bird

Monica began her small business in 2003 with a booth space at the downtown Noblesville shop Spent Saturdays, where both mother and daughter worked as part-time sales associates. Her business, originally called “Baskets With Love”, offered custom-made gift baskets. Monica eventually transitioned into home décor and accessories, and Nina joined her in the booth in 2004, offering pet accessories.

In 2005, the family moved their booth space, which had become “Now and Then”, to another beloved Noblesville store on the square–A Corner Cottage–where Nina worked as a sales associate through college. After three years of success offering antiques, vintage décor, and accessories, Monica moved on to a retail job at Jewelry Gallery in Westfield, and Nina graduated college, became an elementary school teacher, and started a family of her own with her husband, Luke.

After a four-year hiatus, Monica and Nina decided to get back into the game in 2012, this time joined by Monica’s other daughter (and Nina’s sister), Emily. Inspired by Pinterest and decorating magazines such as Flea Market Style and Romantic Country–and the rustic, yet modern style of Restoration Hardware, for Nina–the ladies offered antique and vintage furniture, collectibles, china, and other treasures appealing to junque lovers.

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You can find Now and Then inside Logan Village Mall in historic downtown Noblesville, Indiana.

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Now and Then’s unique style is truly eclectic.
Now and Then sign
Now and Then–formerly a family trio–began its run at Logan Village Mall in a small booth in the middle/back of the store. Once it was outgrown, they moved to a slightly bigger space one booth over, and now business is better than ever in their largest space yet towards the front of the store.

Now and Then cabinet

Today, the team (once again consisting of Monica and Nina, as Emily has since started her own booth) describes their style as eclectic, integrating romantic country, rustic, and shabby chic looks. Their favorite pieces to collect, restyle, and sell in the booth include buffets, chairs, large furniture pieces, dishes, silver and mirrors.

Their husbands are an important part of the business. Both Doug—Monica’s husband and Nina’s father—and Luke help by hauling and moving large pieces, doing repairs, and painting. Doug, who has 30 plus years of experience working with electricity, builds the darling teapot lamps that light up the booth.

The pair often works with their husbands to find pieces at auctions, estate sales, and even in people’s barns that are in disrepair. “Luke helps me rebuild a lot of the pieces, and then we sand or paint or do whatever needs done,” explains Nina. You can be sure that every item in their booth comes to you with loving care, time, and hard work built in.

 Now and Then dishes

Now and Then Fiesta

Now and Then handles

Shoppers can now find their booth towards the front of the store. They recently relocated to a larger booth near the entrance.

Whether you’re looking for a great set of dishes for a tea party, a farm table and chairs for your dining room, or a cabinet to show off your favorite vintage treasures, you’ll find what you need to complete your home’s look at Now and Then!

Now and Then nina and mom buffet

Now and Then Pallet

Now and Then tea pot and suitcase

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Check out Now and Then in their space at Logan Village Mall–977 Logan St., Noblesville, IN 46060–or on Facebook. Give them a “like” while you’re at it!

Once Upon a Time, I Wrote a Children’s Book

I’ve loved stories and books for as long as I can remember. When I was three, I memorized a children’s book about David and Goliath, and my parents thought I was reading it. I remember them having me read it to several of their friends and our family members. They figured out that I wasn’t actually reading it when I had it upside down once, but I still knew when to turn the pages and which illustrations went with which passages.

I loved being read to, learning to read, and eventually, writing my own stories. American Girl books were some of my favorites, and my parents got me a kit from American Girl with blank booklets and guides on how to write and illustrate my own book series one Christmas. I spent nearly the whole day lying on my bedroom floor, reading up on writing tips and working on my first book in the series. My friend Joel and I later wrote an American Girl spoof called “Rosalyn Learns a Lesson”. I’m not sure what happened to that book, but we still laugh about it and marvel at our early satiric writing skills.

I don’t know about all of you, but we wrote Young Authors books every year in elementary school, starting in kindergarten. We would spend several weeks formulating our own story ideas, writing draughts, and finally writing and illustrating our own little hardback books. The process wasn’t always fun, but boy, was I proud of the end product. I wrote about a girl helping to save a whale (kind of a Free Willy rip off…what can I say, I’m a child of the 90s), a biography of Helen Keller, a girl who gets lost in the woods with her teddy bear, a group of friends pulling a prank on an older brother, and two Shar-Peis who are adopted from the pound and given a new life on a farm.

Even when I wasn’t writing them down, I was always telling stories. My friends would look forward to me getting on the bus in the morning so I could tell them hilarious stories of what happened in my house that morning. I used to make up funny bedtime stories to tell my friends at sleepovers, even in college. One of my favorite things to do when riding in the car as a child with my MawMaw and Cadbury, as we called him, was to start a story, then have someone else in the car continue the story/add to it, until everyone had contributed to the story and it was my turn to finish it. You might say I was a ham, but more than the attention, I just liked to see people’s reaction to a good story.

My sister has been an elementary school teacher for several years and has read my fourth grade Young Authors book, A Wrinkly Dog’s Life, every year to her kids. When I heard about how much the kids loved the story, it inspired me to write a real children’s book. I began researching the possibility, but it seemed more like an impossibility. I just didn’t know if I was good enough, and I couldn’t imagine how I could get it published. If I sent a story to a publisher, it could take years for them to get back to me on whether they would want to publish it, and if I self-published, I would have to come up with the money and an illustrator.

About a year ago, one of my favorite musicians, JJ Heller, started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for her children’s book, The Golden Feather. She raised even more than was needed to get the book illustrated and published. I saw pictures of her reading to classrooms full of children and sharing her new book at events. She inspired me anew to pursue this dream. She’s a songwriter and performer, yet she took a risk in applying her talents in a new way and believed that her story would inspire children. She believed it was worth the time and effort to be able to share this story with kids, and others came alongside her to make it happen.

This year, I finally decided to go for it. I asked my friend Aynsley Lockridge, who is one of a couple of friends that has stuck by me nearly all my life, if she would be interested in illustrating the book. I shared my plan—the timeline, the publisher, the cost, how the sales would work, etc.—and e-mailed her the story. I told her that it would be a lot of work for very little money for both of us, but I believed her artwork would be perfect for a children’s story. She was immediately all in because she is amazing and caring and kind and giving and selfless and generous and encouraging. AND.

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Wilson’s Best Day was inspired both by my favorite Young Authors book and the story of how our adopted dog, Wilson, became a part of our family. Wilson inspires me with how happy he is, despite his sad past; how loving he is, although he was not given the love he deserved most of his life; and how trusting and sweet he is, even though he was abandoned multiple times before becoming part of our family. I have a huge heart for God’s creatures, and I think responsible pet ownership, compassion, and giving second chances are really important values to teach children. Kids will have fun learning these things as they hear the story from Wilson’s perspective. This story is valuable, heartwarming, and entertaining, not to mention sweetly and vibrantly illustrated—all the things I look for in a good children’s book!

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We currently have a crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter to raise the funds we need to make this dream come true. Once we get the funds raised, I’ll be able to move forward with getting the book published, into bookstores, and into your homes and hearts. Please check out the page for more information and to pledge now through March 30, 2015! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1541168713/wilsons-best-day 

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We have had the support of family, friends, friends of friends, acquaintances, and even people we don’t know who found us on Kickstarter. I am blown away. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your belief in this story. We can’t do this without you.

I am so excited to share this little book with all of you. I hope that this is the beginning of an amazing adventure in writing and another step in my journey of sharing inspirational, funny, captivating, and valuable stories.

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Spring Will Come

I looked around as we drove a country road a couple of weekends ago. The dry, short, pointy remains of corn stalks harvested in the fall poked through the snow, covering the open fields. The trees were bare, having shed their fiery orange leaves only a few months prior, but now, it seemed so long ago. Indiana was a canvas painted only with shades of brown and white.

I thought to myself that I didn’t mind winter too much anymore. For one thing, I braved five Northern Indiana winters in college and in our first year of marriage. You wouldn’t believe it unless you lived in both places, but lake effect snow is so much worse than what we get in Central Indiana. For another thing, I don’t work full-time anymore, so I don’t have to worry about leaving an extra hour early on snowy or icy days for my rush hour commute to Indy.

But most of all, I don’t mind winter so much anymore because I know it’s just temporary. I always have the hope that spring is coming again. As I looked out over the open fields and the bare trees, I envisioned those fields full of tall, green stalks of corn. I remembered what the trees looked like in the spring, budding with bright shades of white and pink and purple. I tried to wrap my brain around the fact that these dead things would come alive again, and I was hopeful, because I knew that no matter how long winter seems to last, there is always the promise of spring. It comes every year without fail.

The next weekend was Valentine’s Day. I was subbing at the school where my husband teaches on that Friday, and the Honor Society was selling roses that could be delivered to your Valentine in class. My husband sent me a white rose–my favorite kind (except for yellow…and those peachy colored ones…so one of my favorites!). It was delivered in a class full of sixth-graders, who, knowing that I’m married to the Spanish teacher, still wanted to know who it was from. One boy asked, “Is that from Hayden?!” I replied, “Yes, it’s from Hayden, whoever that is.”

The rose already looked limp and half-dead when it was delivered. Several students came up to the desk throughout the day advising that I put it in water. However, I didn’t want to mess with scrounging up some sort of glass or vase from the school. It was the thought that counted, and like I said, it was pretty much already dead.

We stayed after school to work a high school basketball game in the evening. After school, we decided to put all of our belongings in the car, including my rose, so that we wouldn’t have to waste any time packing up to leave after the game. I should mention that it was something like five degrees outside, so I knew for sure that rose would be dead when we got home!

As we wearily drug ourselves and our bags through the door when we got home, Tony asked if I would like him to get a vase out for the rose. I told him it didn’t matter, that the rose was already dead, even though I really appreciated receiving it at school. It was just a shriveled, terrible looking thing.

“I’ll put it in some water, anyway,” he said. “Maybe it will perk up.”

The next day, the rose was standing tall and straight, and it had begun to open up. Over the next couple of days, it only got bigger, fuller, and more beautiful. I couldn’t believe it. Here it is, February 25, and that little rose is still looking beautiful.

It is so difficult to look at something so dead, so far gone, and believe that it could actually come alive again—and not only come alive, but thrive.

The past year has been a really hard one for us. We thought for sure these struggles would be over by now. It seems like we’re living in an eternal polar vortex, Boston winter—as if we just keep getting heavy snow dumped on us, and as soon as we think it’s over or we’re getting a break, here comes more snow. It seems like we’re always digging ourselves out, and many days, I think, “Why keep digging when more snow is on the way?”

But I still have hope, because I know spring is on its way. What would be special about spring if it didn’t follow winter? We can bear the heat of summer because we remember how cold it was in the winter, and we’re grateful for sunburn over frostbite. We love the fall because, even though we know it means winter is coming, now is the time to soak up the last of the mild days and pick apples and pumpkins. The color of the leaves amazes us so, we forget that they’re dying. The excitement of the holidays pulls us through the beginning of the cold.

The winter always comes, as sure as the spring to follow. We can’t avoid it. We can’t skip over it, unless we are rich and have the money to fly south for the winter. We have to wait it out. Since we must go through it, why not play in the snow and enjoy having to stay in without having to rush around, without the ability to rush around?

Nature is such an astounding way for God to teach us about our own lives. Life has seasons. There will surely be winters, but there will also most surely be springs. That keeps me hoping in the midst of digging, which often consists of simply getting out of bed every day. That alone in this season seems like a victory. The memory of the summer—of days when we thrived and laughed and things were bright—keeps me hoping. The dream—nay, the promise–of spring and what it could bring keeps me believing. The thought that winter won’t last forever–even if it’s a very long, harsh winter this time around—keeps me going.

My very wise friend Charity recently posted this status on her Facebook, and it inspired and encouraged me:

“So the LORD said that when we pass through the waters, He will be with us and when we walk through the fire, we will not be burned…He never said we wouldn’t get soaking wet or it wouldn’t be extremely hot.

Well, that certainly clears up a lot of ‘whys’ about life experiences.”

I write this as much for myself as I do for you, hoping it will encourage you and that you will join me in this hope and in this declaration: I will cling to God in the deep waters, in the fire, in the heat, in the cold, and in the winter, even if it’s by the skin of my teeth. I will praise God in the summer and in the spring and when there’s life and sunshine. His presence is enough to sustain me.