#shopFranklin Photo Spotlight: Kooky Critters

Before I returned to work from maternity leave I had the pleasure of visiting with Holly, the creator of Kooky Critters, for her #shopFranklin Photo Spotlight. Now that I have a little one I know that there are many plush toys in my future so it was fitting that I met with Holly to see her adorable creations in person and to learn about her process.  Holly hand makes each “critter” in her home located here in Franklin, MA and I assure you that some love goes into every piece!   Kooky Critters came to be 7 years ago when Holly’s own children asked her to sew some plush monsters on a rainy day…. she’s been creating these unique plush items ever since.  I also loved learning that she even uses a very special tape measure which is the same one used by her great-grandmother Anastasia who worked for a men’s tailor (see photo below).

Some of her most popular pieces include tooth fairy pillows, nap buddies and also memory items which can be created from a loved one’s shirt, blanket or even baby’s PJs  (I definitely plan to order one of these!) which become such precious keepsakes. These memory items are incredibly special and Holly takes great care in each detail. Tooth fairy pillows are often personalized and stay with the child for many years as they grow.  Something unique about Kooky Critters items is that many are functional with little pockets perfect to place a tooth/money, gift card, or little note.  In fact, some of the critters have important jobs as Worry Critters. Children can write down a worry and stuff it into the critter’s mouth who “eats” them.  If you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for don’t worry, Holly is happy to work with you to create a custom piece.  This summer you can also find her new magical summer critters which include Larry the Narwhal, a unicorn, and Mimi the mermaid critter to name a few.  These will only be available for a limited time so be sure to check them out!

Kooky Critters is just another example of a wonderful small business that we are lucky to have here in Franklin.  For more information including the link to the Kooky Critter Etsy shop, custom quotes and Holly’s contact information please visit http://www.kookycritters.com.

#shopFranklin Photo Spotlight: Silver Tree Jewelry

I was able to squeeze in one more #shopFranklin Photo Spotlight before I take a little time off for maternity leave as our little one is due in a short few weeks- where has the time gone?! I’ve been meaning to check out one of Franklin’s newer shops, Silver Tree Jewelry, for a while now so this was the perfect opportunity.  Owned by Lisa Grieci and located downtown at 58 East Central Street (right next to another shop I love- Maven Hair Company) Silver Tree Jewelry is a bright, well decorated shop filled with beautiful jewelry items ranging from rings, necklaces, bracelets, to key chains and more- the majority are handmade by Lisa herself.  Pieces contain sparkling crystals, semi-precious stones, gemstones, hand crafted glass beads and sterling silver to name a few. One of my favorite items was her variety of gorgeous birthstone bracelets… I lucked out in that department and have the diamond as my birthstone! 🙂  You’ll also find unique gifts for sale in addition to the jewelry, some of which are made by local artisans.

I was impressed with the variety of items available in the shop- there is surely something for everyone and the prices are very reasonable. As Lisa showed me around the shop she explained how she had previously owned a small shop here in Franklin years ago before moving out West. When she eventually returned to Franklin she decided to open up a new shop focusing more on her handmade jewelry and Silver Tree Jewelry was born! One of Lisa’s specialties is creating custom pieces for her customers including various cancer bracelets.  You may have already seen her pink breast cancer support bracelets available in some local salons & spas.  Something to make a note of- if you see something in the shop but would like it modified or prefer something totally unique Lisa is more than happy to help and turn your vision into reality.  Like many other small businesses, customers are truly valued and often build a long lasting relationship with the shop owner over the years.

For more information be sure to follow Silver Tree Jewelry on Facebook where you can find the store’s hours, special promotions plus see photos of Lisa’s latest creations (or order a custom piece) & more! Happy Shopping!

#shopFranklin Photo Spotlight: My Little Sunshine | Children’s Consignment Boutique

With a little baby expected early this spring it seemed like the perfect time to visit one of Franklin’s newest small shops- My Little Sunshine Children’s Consignment Boutique located in the shopping plaza off of Rt. 140/West Central St.  Owned by Mary Ellen Aylward, this shop specializes in upscale children’s consignment clothing, toys & accessories and also offers a great variety of unique gift items- some of which are made by local artisans like My Little Midge, Blue Monkey Hair Clips & Accessories, Carrie Gagnon Designs & Kooky Critters!  Collaboration & support between local businesses is at the core of the #shopFranklin movement. 🙂

Before taking some photos Mary Ellen showed me around the shop and explained how My Little Sunshine came about.  As a mother of three she was never able to find that perfect store to purchase and sell children’s upscale second hand clothing, baby/children’s accessories and toys so, after much research, she decided to use her management and retail experience to combine quality and convenience with reusability and recycling to create My Little Sunshine which opened in late summer of 2016.  As I wandered around the shop I was impressed with the amount of brand new items available many of which would make perfect gifts for birthdays or baby showers. You can also find a sweet selection of dress up items like fairy wings, wands and dresses.  There is a large range of clothing sizes available too- starting at newborn going up to Juniors.  There’s even a cozy reading nook in the back of the store with a great variety of books available to purchase.

Some of the preferred brands accepted and sold at My Little Sunshine include: Under Armour, Crewcuts, Vineyard Vines, Hanna Andersson, Mini Boden/Baby Boden, Lilly Pulitzer, Janie & Jack, The North Face, Lacoste, Polo/Ralph Lauren, Lands End, Gap/Gap Kids/Baby Gap, LL Bean, Gymboree, Tommy Hilfiger, Sperry Top-Sider, Toms, UGGS, Merrill, & Robeez.  Toy brands include American Girl, Calico Critters, Lego, Melissa & Doug, Playmobile, Fisher Price, & Playskool. A list of brands that are not accepted can be found on the shop’s website.

For more information including store hours, consignment guidelines, and ways to contact the shop please visit http://www.mylittlesunshinechildrensconsignment.com. You can also follow My Little Sunshine on Facebook & Instagram to stay updated on new items & sales at the store.

 

2016 Fall Harvest Stroll | Franklin MA

I managed to stop by for a bit during this year’s downtown Fall Harvest Stroll and wow, what a crowd- downtown is officially back in business after months of road construction and revitalization efforts.  It was awesome to see so many local businesses participating and the weather couldn’t have been better!  After snapping some photos I did some shopping at a few of my favorite local shops including Fiori & the Cake Bar- both have seasonal specials (fall inspired floral arrangements & maple cupcakes!).  Love our town!!

 

#shopFranklin Photo Spotlight: Franklin Honey Company

I LOVE honey.  Maybe a little too much but is there even such a thing? I didn’t think so. I have jars of honey in my pantry at all times and have been known to put honey on some odd things (like mashed potatoes- yum!).  Whenever we travel I make it a point to find some local honey.  And I’m not talking about the super processed kind from the grocery store but real honey that’s minimally processed by local beekeepers, collected by those hard working honeybees that are oh so important to us humans (hence the recent efforts to save them).  I love trying different varieties of honey as they’re all unique, dependent on the local flowers in the area frequented by the bees. During the winter at a local farmer’s market I even found some wildflower honey collected from the desert in my beloved state of Arizona.  So, when I had a chance to visit with Roger of Franklin Honey Company, located at 1 Green Street in Franklin, I was definitely excited to learn more about the process and of course taste some delicious honey.

Started back in 2006 Franklin Honey Company is a family run business operated by Roger and his daughter Lauren.  In addition to delicious unprocessed raw varieties of honey they also create soaps, candles & lip balms using beeswax.  If you’re having a bridal or baby shower they even offer miniature jars of honey that make wonderful (and tasty) favors.  You can visit their booth at the weekly Franklin Farmer’s Market located at the town common to stock up.  Franklin Honey Company also offers a variety of beekeeping services including removal of honeybees & swarms plus pollination services.  Roger explained that some of their hives can be found down on the Cape alongside cranberry bogs. Speaking of cranberries, Franklin Honey Company also collaborates with other local businesses including La Cantina Winery (see their previous photo spotlight) – the result? Delicious local wine made with local honey!  Such a wonderful concept.

During my visit I photographed the extraction process during which time Roger was kind enough to let me scrape some of the wax seals off of the honeycombs before placing the frames into the extractor.  It was a sticky job but I really enjoyed it and it served as a great reminder of the hard work that goes into making every jar of honey.  All of the time and effort required is something that many of us don’t consider not to mention the heavy lifting of each box.  An average shallow honey super can weigh between 20-25 lbs each! Once the honey is extracted it passes through a screen mesh before flowing into a large bucket, this screen ensures that the honey doesn’t contain any debris such as bits of wax etc.  Honey that is sold as raw contains all the pollen, enzymes and other micronutrients that are usually filtered out or destroyed by heat when the honey is processed. If properly stored, honey will not spoil.  However, honey will ferment if it is diluted by moisture from the atmosphere or by other liquids. Prevent fermentation by keeping honey containers tightly sealed before and between uses.

hive

 

A diagram of the basic components of the average beehive:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here are just a few interesting facts about bees:

  • The honeybee is the only insect that produces food eaten by man.
  • Consuming a teaspoon of local honey a day will help with pollen allergies as it contains trace amounts of pollen to help build immunity.
  • A hive of bees consists of 1 queen bee, 40 to 60 thousand female workers and 1,000 male drone bees.
  • Honeybees are responsible for pollinating over 75% of all fruits and vegetables.
  • The honeybee flies around 90,000 miles -three times around the globe -to make one pound of honey.

For more information including Franklin Honey Company products, bee services, event announcements, and contact info please visit http://www.franklinhoney.com/.

For more information on what you can do to help save the honeybee please visit www.honeybeehaven.org

 

#shopFranklin Photo Spotlight: Agway

In today’s fast paced stressful world it seems that more and more people are looking to get back to the basics and simplify their lives.  Whether this means growing your own fruit & vegetables, making your own beer or cheese from scratch, raising chickens for truly fresh eggs, or even keeping bees to produce one of my favorite things (honey) the Franklin Agway is your one stop shop to get the items you need to get the job done.   Located at 157 Cottage Street the Franklin Agway has been a fixture in Franklin since 1954 when it was owned by Eastern States Farmers Exchange. 

New owners Melanie & Neal recently purchased this location in an effort to not only continue doing the activities they love but to also encourage and guide the community to follow suit. As Mel pointed out during my visit you don’t have to be an expert to begin brewing beer or growing vegetables- the Agway staff is there to provide the materials you need and will also happily explain the necessary steps you need to be successful.  Mel explained that the Agway is a “hardware store for my lifestyle” and that is a unique concept which sets the store apart especially from the big box chains.  Having a store like the Agway in town is extremely convenient for those that in the past typically would’ve needed to find a specialty store which tend to have limited weekend/evening hours.  Case in point Mel told me about a local bee keeper who misplaced an important tool and ran into the Agway, bee suit and all, to grab the tool then return to the hive to finish up. :)

In addition to stocking specialty items like canning materials, beer/cider making kits and bee keeping tools the Franklin Agway also stocks a large selection of gardening tools, hay & feed for livestock, a variety of perennials, soil/mulch, pet supplies including quality food for dogs/rabbits/hamsters, birdhouses & bird food, organic pest control and even propane at an awesome price. You will also often find items from other local businesses such as local honey or locally grown flower bunches.

For more information including store hours, new recipes/events, available products & much more visit Agway at http://www.franklinagway.com/.