Shop Small, Shop Local 2018 Toledo Guide

There are so many benefit to shopping small, not just on Small Business Saturday, but every day!!

Benefits of Shopping Small, Shopping Local…..

  1. You’ll help create jobs in the community
  2. Your tax dollars stay local.
  3. Small businesses give back to the neighborhood.
  4. Shopping at one local business helps other local businesses.
  5. Small businesses offer more unique products.
  6. It helps keep communities diverse
  7. You lesson the environmental impact of your purchases.


Here are just a few of the many awesome local small businesses located in Toledo & the surrounding area. Please be sure to show them your love and “like”, and/or, “follow” them on social media, and be sure to stop in to the brick and mortar shops, introduce yourself, & inquire about deals, yes, small businesses also have some great bargains!

Bowinkles Children’s Boutique

Phone: 567-455-5939

Address: 5627 Main St, Sylvania, OH 43560


Hours: M-F: 10AM – 5:30PM, SAT: 10AM – 5PM, SUN: CLOSED

Shop local this holiday season with Bowinkles. New Fall and holiday arrivals plus all sales items Buy 2, Get 1 Free!

HarperLee Jewelry


Raw metal transformed into custom keepsake jewelry!

Julia’s Ornaments

Phone: Call or text 419-442-8037



All ornaments are handmade and hand painted….custom orders welcomed, such as names, birthdays, current year, player number for sport related ornaments, and colored glitter. Ornaments cost $10 & $2 to personalize.

LuLaRoe Em Elizabeth

Owner: Emily Sicilia

Phone: 419-806-9242


Clothing for all ages and sizes! Visit the facebook shopping group to enjoy weekly specials throughout the holiday season! Also contact Em to set up an appointment to shop the Toledo Boutique to take advantage of in person specials!

NeverMore Used Bookstore

Phone: (419) 593-0093

Address: 2856 W Sylvania Ave, Toledo, OH 43613


Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 10am-6pm & Friday-Sunday 10am-5pm

Find that hidden gem or a favorite popular fiction or nonfiction book for a great price!! They carry books for the entire family…kids, teens, tweens, young adult, adult. They also take clean, good condition books on trade for in-store credit which buys you 25% off purchases!!

Reger’s Church Supplies & Religious Gifts

Phone: (419) 474-4740

Address: 4100 Secor Rd, Toledo, OH 43623


Hours: Mon – Fri 9:30am – 5pm & Sat 9:30am – 3pm

Get all your Advent & Christmas products here! Reger’s Christian gift store serves all denominations of the Christian faith, including churches, clergy, and individual Christians.

Stella’s Lots of Knots

Owner: Stephanie Bird

Phone: (231) 736-8315


Stella’s Lots of Knots is offering free shipping through the holidays or local pick up! Also, use coupon code LOCAL during checkout to receive 20% off your order!

Thistle and Thorn

Phone: (419) 261-9166

Address: 2746 W Sylvania Ave, Toledo, OH 43613


Hours: Mon-Fri. 10am-5pm, Saturday 10am-3pm, & closed Sunday

Thistle and Thorn is a locally owned full service florist and gift shop. See coupon below to save $10!!

Show the following image at checkout to receive $10 off any Fall Arrangement!

Twice But Nice

Phone: (419) 475-7368

Address: 2850 W Sylvania Ave, Toledo, OH 43613


Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10am-7pm & Sunday 11am-5pm

Show the following image coupon to receive $5 off of $30 or more!!

8 Tips to Help You Save Money this Christmas

It’s the time of year when many of us are thinking with our hearts as opposed to with our heads. We allow our hearts to do the shopping, decorating, wrapping, and giving without consulting our heads, a.k.a. logic & reason. Then in January our heads are back in the game and have to live with the consequences our hearts made via bank accounts and credit card statements. Not this year! Here are 8 tips that will help satisfy the warmth of the heart and logic/reason of the mind/head.


8 Tips to Help You Save Money this Christmas

1. Look for FREE Christmas Activities and Events Going on in the Community


  • Did you know the Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo offers one FREE weekend visit…and free parking.
  • Holidays in the Manor House at Wildwood Metropark is a FREE fun family event…children will enjoy participating in the scavenger hunt as they tour the rooms adorn with festive themes, dress up in the props provided in the photo booth room, take a quick lighted stroll, & warm up by the fire while enjoying a complimentary s’more!!
  • Barnes & Noble Stores (Fallen Timbers & Franklin Park)has FREE Holiday themed Storytime’s & activity that follows on Saturdays in December at 11am

2. Don’t partake in the lethal combination of Craft/Hobby store & Pinterest-Stick to a List!

  • When you walk into any craft store you are greeted by adorable holiday décor that practically screams, “Take me home”!! You may have entered the store looking for just a throw pillow but you are leaving with a cart full of goodies, all color coordinated, & too adorable to pass up! What’s worse is if you “accidently” click Pinterest while in said craft store, it is the worst enabler! Exercise self-control this Christmas…make a list before entering a craft/hobby store and stick to it and NEVER click on Pinterest when in a craft store, do your research before you arrive and save a pic of the project.

3. Reuse Christmas Decoration

  • As a child I recall fond memories of helping my parents get out the Christmas decorations each year…the ornaments, stuffed animals, etc. There was something so special about unpacking even the wreath from Christmas past, especially when we moved. It helped make the new house a home because with that wreath came all the beautiful memories from past Christmases spent at our old home. Somewhere along the way we have lost the importance of tradition when it comes to Christmas décor and perhaps tip #2 has a lot to do with it. But this year why not save money and build on the memories with your children by reusing last year’s decorations.8tipstosavemoney3
  • But what about the live Christmas trees? Okay, so maybe you will need to spend a little on Christmas décor if your family opts for a live tree. Our family enjoys the experience of selecting and cutting down our own tree. We go to Samarian Hidden Tree Farm; they have a great selection and a great price, all trees are $40 (cash only).

4. Wear Clothing that is in Your Closet

  • There is no reason to get all new Christmas clothing, shoes, etc. every year when you already have Sunday best in your closet.

5. Host a Simple Gathering

  • Throwing a Christmas party is a lot of fun, but also a lot of work and money. This year throw a simple Christmas gathering, invite friends over for dessert, have a Sundae bar and/or Hot Coca bar and request that each friend bring a specific topping/sweet to share. This way all you have to have ready when guest arrive is hot cocoa and/or ice cream and serving dishes. And what’s more you get to actually enjoy your party instead of constantly running back and forth checking of food.8tipstosavemoney4
  • Why not add to the entertainment and spread the Holiday savings, make your party a White Elephant party. Have guest wrap a gently used item from home to swap. Not familiar with While elephant? Click on link,

6. Take your own Family Christmas Portrait

  • Don’t pay a dime for a Christmas Portrait sitting fee! Take your own with a tripod and timer on your camera and/or phone.
  • Meet up with another family at a park or other beautiful backdrop and take turns taking pics of each other’s family.

7. Re-think the Christmas Card

  • Just send a virtual Christmas card to friends for free…Smilebox even has music!
  • Only purchase a small about of Christmas cards for the loved ones who are not on Facebook or Social media. Chances are most relatives are seeing adorable pics of your munchkins on a daily basis, so you could simply add your Christmas pics to your page to share. But there are those few who are not on social media who do still enjoy receiving a Christmas card. Just order 10-25 cards…look for deals online. This year I ordered a bunch of items from Shutterfly and received 10 free cards.8tipstosavemoney5
  • Have children help make Christmas cards from items in your arts & craft container and then print off your Christmas picture (that you had a friend take, of your family wearing clothing that was already in closets 😉 ) at Walgreen, Meijer, etc. and place photo inside the homemade card. Loved ones will appreciate the personalized touch and you will save money, win-win!

8. Implement the rule of 3 for children’s gifts-Want, Need, & Share

  • Make a list of 3 items to purchase for each child and stick with the list, no impulse buys! Purchase children one item they want, one item they need, and an item to share. Ideas for items to share, games for family game nights, puzzles, Lego bricks, movies for family movie nights, and/or one of those craft kids.8tipstosavemoney6
  • Remind children that Christmas is Jesus’s birthday, not theirs and that we should be thankful and appreciative for any items under the Christmas tree. It also helps if adults focus more on the excitement of giving gifts rather than receiving, model the behavior you wish to see in your children.

Facebook killed the Christmas card

The following message has been circulating on Facebook: If you would like to exchange Christmas cards send me a PM with your address.

I must admit, that message rubs me the wrong way. What happened to the good old days when you would eagerly open that mailbox and wonder will there be Christmas cards today, and if so, from whom? We have removed the excitement, anticipation, magic. We have removed that warm heartfelt feeling of knowing that you are important to someone, that they thought of you exclusively, and wanted to make certain you received a card. What ever happened to giving because you care, appreciate, and love someone as opposed to giving in order to receive?

Now, I am not naive, I realize Christmas cards are expensive and you can only send out a limited amount. But sending out a message to have people PM you if they wish to exchange cards might end up hurting someone’s feelings, including your own! You may not have enough cards to send to those who PM you their addresses. Or, you might be disappointed to see that only a couple friends want your Christmas card. Is there a solution?

christmascards 018

The answer is, I don’t know. I fear that just like video killed the radio star, Facebook is killing the Christmas card. Let’s be honest, we spend hours a week connecting with friends and family who live both near and far, it is like a virtual Christmas card all year! What is the point of sending a card with a photo of your cute babies when everyone sees them every day on Facebook? (Should be noted that I appreciate & LOVE each & every card I receive and yes, I do keep ALL of them….I might just be a dying breed?)

christmascards 009

Perhaps just like letter writing has become a thing of the past, Christmas cards will too, perhaps our generation will be the last? God only knows what the younger generations will send each other in the future, holograms? Am I just delaying the inevitable? Am I naïve to think others will appreciate receiving our Christmas card? Or am I just mailing out a card that will deliver nothing but more obligation to the receiver during an already stressful time of year? (I hope not, just because you receive a card from me doesn’t obligate you to send one to me, I understand, I just wanted to send some Christmas Cheers!)

What are your thoughts? Do you send Christmas cards?

Holiday Memories: Because no one Remembers Perfection!

It was time for our annual family Christmas picture.  And as most moms know this can be quite a process and is something that doesn’t just happen on a whim. There is much planning, scheduling, and coordinating that goes into the process and at times can be met with a little animosity…let’s just say tights, ties, and the color pink were strongly vetoed this year! Haha!  The entire family cleared their Saturday morning, which is a lot to do when you have little ones with b-day parties, young adults with social lives, adults who are very involved in the church/community, and a photographer who is a mother herself and has her schedule to rearrange.

My mother and I started the clothes preparation months in advance.  Painstakingly trying to coordinate colors. You’d be surprised at how many shades of red and green are out there! We finally nailed it! Then we added a few finishing touches and I took the kiddos shoe shopping a few days prior (Their feet grow too darn fast! I knew shoes had to be our last purchase). The night before I removed all tags and sat out clothes.

The morning of the pictures ran so smoothly, almost too smoothly! Everyone took their turn in the bathroom to get cleaned up, no arguing about anyone taking up too much time. I managed to do the girls’ hair without any complaints of pulling too hard, brushing an ear/face, or pulling too tight. We left the house stain free, hairs in place, and with matching socks, it was beautiful! I was so proud of my family, we did it! We even arrived early!! Talk about a Christmas pictures day miracle! Haha!

Once everyone had arrived we started searching for the perfect background for the picture. And we didn’t have to look for long. There it was!!  A gorgeous tree full of these magnificent leaves a shade of red that perfectly complimented our red and green theme!   It was like fall foliage fate had spoken! Haha! But seriously, it was beautiful! My excitement and anticipation started building when I realized this was actually happening, the perfect family picture!!!

And we were on the verge of perfection…and then this happened….

christmaspics2014 028BehindBLOG


We asked our little one to please take off her coat just for the picture and then she could put it back on. And the consequence of that request was a tad surprising. Though, I should add that it was unseasonably cold that early Nov. day. It was 22 degrees that morning, so I can’t say I blame her for refusing to take off her coat. So then this happened….

christmaspics2014 029BehindBLOG


And then…this happened….our Christmas 2014 Family Picture…….


christmaspics2014 041BLOG


The result ended up being far from perfection! After all the time, energy, phone calls, trips to the Mall, perfect background tree, everyone being on time, and this is our Christmas Picture!

I have to be honest; I was a little disappointed that she wouldn’t take off her coat. And though I am not proud to admit it I did try to bribe her with anything and everything I could think of…more screen time, candy, movie night pick, game night pick, you name and I tried, but she did not budge. So we ended up with a picture that was far from the perfect Christmas picture I had envisioned.

On the way home I thought back to my own childhood and all the Christmas pictures my mother had so perfectly composed. Funny thing is I couldn’t recall one perfect picture. Now that’s not to say that they didn’t happen, because they did, or at least a few did, I only know this because I have seen them framed and hanging on the wall. But I do not recall those perfect pictures, getting ready, going to have them done, none of it! What I do recall is the year my sister was only 2 months old and cried during the entire shoot. The end result was me smiling a real cheesy/fake smile and her in my arms beat read and crying. Or the one where my little brother refused to put his tongue in his mouth. Lol! This got me thinking about all my fond memories of Christmas past. And guess what? I don’t remember anything that was perfect! All of my memorable Christmas moments are ones where the opposite of perfect occurred. Like when the Christmas tree slowly fell over and you could literally see it happening when we played back the video! Or when the entire family was seated and eating in the dining room and my uncle announced that he let the cat in, to which my mother replied “We don’t have a cat!” Or the time the dog caught a squirrel. Oh the memories! They bring me so much joy!

I have come to the conclusion that we don’t remember the perfect Christmases but rather the moments that make each and every Christmas unique and special.  It is those unique moments that freeze in time and help us to remember grandma’s contagious laugh, Dad’s amazing patience, and a 4 year olds willpower and refusal to take off her coat. Haha!  Embrace the beauty that comes from imperfection this Christmas and treasure those memories for a lifetime!

Patience Brewster, a designer of Christmas ornaments and gifts, helped inspire this holiday memory post!

Do you take a family Christmas picture each year? Do you have an imperfect memory to share?



Christmas is…


The Christmas spirit has been shining brightly in our family.  Here is a glimpse of what we have been up to the past few weeks….via ways to define Christmas.

Christmas is…

First and foremost, receiving the most precious and sacred gift God could give, his son, Jesus Christ.

Christmas cards

Wishing family and friends both near and far a Merry Christmas.

May the spirit of Christmas be with you now and all year long. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from my family to yours


Old and New Traditions

A newer tradition that was started a few years ago is all the cousins get together at my grandfather’s house and have pizza, pop, dessert, and decorate his house for Christmas. It is loads of fun and I love the fact that my children get to participate too.

blogzoo_gg 016

It is a tradition in our family since I can remember to go to the evening Mass at Rosary Cathedral  on the 24th (it is absolutely breathtaking…and it is where my husband and I wed), we then go back to my parents’ house for amazing appetizers and Lasagna from Spaghetti Warehouse, the night continues with Christmas carols, my dad reciting Twas the Night Before Christmas, a surprise visit from Santa Claus, and exchanging of gifts.

Giving selfless service to those less fortunate….

We brought in cookies to be decorated and sang carols with residents at Little Sisters of the Poor.  We had such a wonderful time.

blogteachergift_littlesisters 010

We also joined our playgroup and served lunch and helped kiddos decorate cookies at Beach House Family Shelter.  Cookies were clearly our theme this year. Lol!

blogbeachhouse_momsbday 004

Joy with family….

I treasure those moments with family…whether we are crying or laughing, or laughing till we cry the time is so precious.

 blogchristmasevemorn13 037

Christmas caroling with friends and spreading Christmas cheer….

I had a gathering at my place for the moms in our playgroup. The only requirement was they had to relax…there was a massage therapist on hand. Everyone got massages; we played a game, had some wine, chatted, and even went Christmas caroling.

blogmomsnight 029

A surprise gift of service…..

The morning after we decorated cookies and sang Christmas carols at Little Sisters’ of the Poor the children must have been pleasantly surprised at how elated the soul feels when serving others. They surprised my husband and me with breakfast in bed.  The big smiles on their faces and the way their eyes lit up with excitement to give us the breakfast they prepared was so endearing and adorable.

The act of giving

blogchristmasevemorn13 018

I was so concerned about our eldest daughter losing the magic of believing in Santa Clause that I lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas. Ah, but she didn’t nor did her brother or sister. I had taken them shopping at the Dollar Tree (it is within their budget) for gifts for their grandparents and aunt and uncle. Then they wrapped their own gifts. And on Christmas Eve they were actually more excited about giving their gifts then receiving their one “special” gift from Santa Claus. My heart absolutely melted when they exerted as much, if not more, enthusiasm handing their grandparent their gifts that they bought and wrapped for them than they did to see Santa. The pure joy brought a tear to my eye.

Taking time to remember and pray for the souls who are no longer with us…..

This Christmas was particularly more difficult and emotional for some members of the family. After we opened Christmas gifts at my in-laws Christmas day we headed to the hospital to visit my husband’s grandfather. He had been in the hospital for the past two weeks. It had been an exhausting, confusing, and emotional two weeks for my husband’s uncle and mother. It was one of those situations where you wish you could do something, anything, to help ease their worries, their pain. That was the last time we saw grandpa. He passed away Christmas night. We will treasure the time we had and the memories we made, and pray that he has found peace.

blog90thbday 019

How was your Christmas Day? How do you define Christmas? Do you have any special family traditions?

Tuesday’s Treasures: Christmas Cards Past and Present

Christmas pictures, just hearing the words make me cringe.  B.C. (Before Children), I would always admire the Christmas cards we would get in the mail of our family and friends’ adorable children.  Even once, or twice, I caught myself daydreaming about my future children’s Christmas pictures and how adorable and perfect they would appear. I would take them to some fancy photography studio and get extraordinary pictures, with them in a sleigh, or on a horse, or something grandiose.

Fast-forward to A.D. (After the delusions) and I realize that those fancy photography studios are extremely expensive.  So much so that it almost boils down to a Christmas photograph of the children, or Christmas with gifts under the tree.  No surprise, my husband and I decided the children would find more joy in the gifts than a picture of themselves.  So, we decided that with our savvy, my savvy skills, we would save the money and take the Christmas Photographs ourselves.

Well the first year was a breeze.  All we had was our little one month old to photo and she was still in that new-born phase where they sleep all day.  She was the perfect little model.

Following year she is one and refuses to sit still for one minute.  Thus, every picture I took was a blur since she kept moving.  So, I went where no mommy like to admit to going, bribery. I told her if she sits still she will get some crackers and it worked, all-be-it for a minute, but it worked. And in that minute I just kept clicking that button as fast as it would let me.  Out of 50 takes 1 was solid.

The next year we added to our brood.  We had a two-year old and a six month old.  The baby was perfect but again, the two-year old did not want to sit still.  Thus more bribery, that year was M & M.

The next year was more of the same, except the bribery kept increase. What was once just a couple of crackers had turned into cupcakes.

The following year a trip to Chuck E. Cheese was promised for the cute little smile ( how can we top that? A trip to Disney? That is one expensive photo).

But no more. No more will mommy be clearing her entire day in hopes of bribing her way to a semi-decent Christmas photo. The bribery stops this year (almost, I did bring some fruit chew snacks to reward good behavior after the pictures were taken).

This year Shuttery sponsored a Family Picture Day for our Playgroup.  We had one of our talented moms photograph everyone’s families.  We met at the Art Museum around 10am and by 6pm that evening our family’s Christmas card was ordered.  Thanks to
the help of our skilled photographer the pictures were exceptional.  The process was so easy; our photographer mom added a professional’s touches to the photos and then uploaded them to shutterfly.  Once they were uploaded she notified us, we looked through the amazing collections of photos she took, selected our favorite, perused the variety of Christmas card options Shutterfly offers, made our selection, and ordered our cards, and it was that easy.  We also saved a bundle.  The competitors’ usually only allow customers to enter one promotional code but shutterfly accepted all the codes.  We save 40% on the cards, got free shipping, and since Shutterfly sponsored the event each family received a $10 off coupon. This was a breeze compared to the past five years of whining, screaming crying (and that’s just me), and bribing.

This is the start of a beautiful family tradition.  Thanks you Allie and Shutterfly for making Christmas photos stress free.

I am off to get started on my photography books through shutterfly, they make great Christmas presents for family and friends.