Life Love Larson

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Monday, December 9, 2019

2019 Made In Iowa Gift Guide

Many of you know I have strong ties to the great state of Iowa! I lived in both Sioux City, IA and Storm Lake, IA as a little girl. I grew up just on the other side of the Mississippi River from Iowa throughout elementary, middle, and high school. I've been an Iowa Hawkeye fan for as long as I can remember and ended up attending the University of Iowa and meeting my husband there! We are a die hard Hawkeye family! My parents, as well as my sister and her family all currently live in Des Moines, IA (just 3 hours from us), as well as many other friends and family. A large piece of my heart will always be connected to the great state! And of course, everyone in Iowa affiliated with the state is "IOWA NICE"!
Iowa has a spirit of loyalty and kindness and is down to earth. The many towns across Iowa have some fabulous "makers" and products and foods to be shared! I can't wait to show you some of the fun items available through the 2019 Made In Iowa Gift Guide. A great way to give back is to shop local and support Iowa shops, artists, and craftspeople! This year's guide has been curated to showcase gift ideas from across the state. One of my favorite parts about the gift guide is the story background of how all the shops came to be! Truly inspiring! ALSO...I'm hosting a giveaway to give a lucky winner an item from one of the shops! Details at the end of the post!

First up is 1st Avenue Collective out of Winterset, IA. They have an online shop where you can purchase art, crafts, and jewelry. I love how they include the name of the maker when you click to purchase!  This minimalist jewelry is so pretty!
Next up is The Maker's Loft. It's located in the downtown area in one of my favorite cities ever - Iowa City, IA. Iowa City has such a cool, eclectic vibe about it. I strongly encourage you to visit if you have never been! This shop is where my "Iowa Nice" tee shirt is from! Only $20! What a great gift idea! They also sell candles, and sweatshirts, and throw blankets from local makers! They also sell unique items like beard oil and tonic mixers!

The next small business you can support is Carver's Ridge out of Guthrie Center, IA. They sell personalized and engraved goods. Perfect gift ideas for teachers and friends and family members! How awesome is the recipe engraved on the cutting board?!

Let's talk local foods! That Iowa Girl out is out of Clarion, IA, She supports other local businesses by selling and delivering Iowa-made food products! How cool is that?! Be sure to visit her online shop to buy all the goodies for gifts or your next get together!
Next up is Barn Happy, a shop located in Cedar Falls, IA. They sell a wide variety of products and work with over 100 vendors! You can find everything from soaps, to jams, to custom Iowa gift baskets! They also have a little cafe open for lunch and brunch, so if you are in the area, be sure to stop by!

Next up is The Market Place located in Manning, IA. It's owned and run by Jaime England, who moved back to her hometown to open this shop along Main Street. She sells home decor and gift products from local vendors. There is also a coffee shop inside the store! I'm obsessed with these beaded tassels! The perfect gift idea! She also sells cozy throw blankets!

And last, but certainly not least, is The Little House on Main, a boutique and clothing shop in Bondurant, IA. The store looks absolutely adorable! She sells wooden signs and gifts, knit hats, and the cutest tea towels. 
I'm hosting a giveaway on my Instagram feed! One lucky winner will receive a Swedish dish cloth and beer bread kit from one of the shops that The Little House on Main supports called Doe A Deer. Click here to head to my feed to enter!
When you shop the 2019 Made In Iowa Gift Guide, you support small business and makers. You support a state you love. You will bring a smile to the face of the recipient when you gift them something locally handmade and sourced! You can find something for every single person on your list! It's an all around win/win! 

*This is a sponsored post. All opinions and writing content are my own!*







Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Christmas Tree Basket

Two years ago I decided to do away with a tree skirt for our main tree and go on the hunt for a basket. I like the clean look of a basket. I like that it doesn't need to be straightened like a tree skirt does. I like the texture of a basket. And most importantly, I like that I can sweep right around the tree to pick up all the needles! We get a real tree every year, so needle clean up is a thing! Putting our Christmas tree in a basket allows for easy clean up! Woo hoo! I've included a video tutorial at the end of the post! I've also included a way to shop the post at the bottom of the post!

I purchased this large basket at Homegoods. It was a random find and I know large baskets are hard to come by! I got lucky! The diameter is 22", so it's pretty substantial. We had to make sure our tree stand would fit inside the basket! Don't forget to check this part!
We also had to make sure the branches at the bottom were cut far enough up the tree so it didn't look smashed into the basket. We get our trees at Lowes and have them cut the bottom branches off. This is easy to do later on at home with a handsaw if needed. For reference, we usually get a 7-8 foot tree for our space. We place it in between the dining room and the living room, so it's visible from the whole first floor, and from the outside looking in!
To start, clear the space where you want the basket and the tree. I lined the bottom of the basket with a few garbage bags first. I then lined it with a water absorption pad that we picked up at Lowes when we got our tree. We assembled the tree into the tree stand in the garage and brought it in and dropped it into the basket.
Now, it's time to water and decorate your tree! I loved having the tree in a basket and we will be doing it again this coming year. During the off season (the other 11 months of the year), you can put blankets in your basket or a large plant! It never technically has to be put away or stored!
Tree collars give the same effect as a basket, they are usually just lower to the ground. I like the look of the basket best, but a collar is a great alternative! I even brought our tree outside the past few years to enjoy it during the month of January! I know some think I'm nuts, but I don't care! I love the natural look of a real tree!



I hope you enjoy all the season has to offer this year! XO
Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Family Notebooks Instead of Cards

A few years ago, I decided I was done spending money on purchasing cards for every occasion for everyone in our immediate family. Instead, I decided to purchase notebooks for the four of us and use those notebooks instead of cards for every birthday, Mother's Day, anniversary, etc. This system has been WONDERFUL and we are never turning back! We all look forward to reading our messages!
There is no rhyme or reason to the notebooks, these are just blank ones I picked up and everyone agreed to. The idea is that every time a birthday, anniversary, Father's Day, graduation, etc, rolls around, the other people in the family write a little note inside the notebook with the date. If you have little kids, pictures work well! Or, have them dictate what to write. We started this when our kids were a little older, and I wish I had thought of it sooner! Think poems, love letters, simple notes! Whatever you are feeling! That is the beauty of the notebook and the blank pages!
We keep the notebooks in the office in one spot so everyone knows where they are. A few days before the occasion, we remember to get the book out and pass it around. By eliminating multiple cards, you create one space for all the messages and you cut down on the clutter! This will be easy for our kids to take with them when they eventually leave the nest.
If you have received cards that you would like to keep prior to using this system, you can just stick them in the back of the notebook for safekeeping and everything is still in one place! I just love looking back on the sweet messages.
I think it would be nice to write notes "just because" too! This is a simple and inexpensive way to share the love with your family! XO
Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Explore Kansas City: AR Workshop

Some of my girlfriends and I met at a new studio/workspace/shop that just opened in North Kansas City to get our craft on! AR Workshop is a space where you can take classes to make all the crafty things including wooden signs, chunky knit blankets, holiday decor, jewelry stamping and pretty much anything crafty you can think of! They offer different classes throughout the week, or you can book private parties for birthdays, GNO, etc!
This location also has some retail! You can purchase tea towels, candles, jewelry, already made signs and decor, rugs, etc. It's such a darling space! Need a layered rug for your front door? They have some!
We had a private experience at the shop and the owner provided treats and mimosas and a sweet little note! Your work station will already be set up for you and ready to go! How fun!

We made wood projects and each of us chose something a little different. You can customize what you make sure names, paint colors, stains, etc. There is truly a style for everyone! It was fun to get work on something new! I'm all about new experiences!
Here is the shop owner explaining the different types of stain.
And all the fun materials you get to work with are right in the middle of the table. Everything is provided and the instructions are easy! You just have to do the work!
Each class takes between 2-3 hours depending on what you choose to make. Check out their website for all the specific dates and details. There are several locations through the KC Metro area!
Such a fun outing with friends or family or for parties or large groups! Thanks for having us AR Workshop!
Thursday, October 24, 2019

Explore Kansas City: Yaya's Alpaca Farm

Some of our good friends had it on their fall bucket list to visit an Alpaca farm and they asked us if we wanted to join them! I'm so glad they did, because we had such a great time! Not only was going to Yaya's Alpaca Farm hands-on, it was also educational! Everyone learned something new!
Yaya's Alpaca Farm is located in Garden City, MO, about a 45 minute drive from where we live in South Overland Park. My friend purchased tickets ahead of time for a day our kids had off from school. There is also an option to show up to the farm an pay once you are there. We wanted to make sure we secured a spot in case it was busy! You also avoid lines at the end having to pay if you just pay ahead of time!
Yaya is the owner of the farm and a kind man. He has an incredible story about how he came to have alpacas. I won't ruin it for you, just go to farm and hear his heartwarming story!! We arrived a little early and Yaya brought in two alpacas into the barn where the presentation takes place. He also handed everyone a large bag of food. Christmas and Einstein were the two alpacas we spent time with before everyone else got there. These animals are gentle! Sweet! Docile! The best!
The alpaca fleece is so soft! They shave the fleece in the spring so they don't overheat in the summer. The fleece was growing back when we were there in mid-October to gear up for the winter months. They stay outside all year and can withstand 0 degree temps! That's how warm the fleece is!
After Yaya gives the history of the farm and education on alpacas, you head outside where there are 41 alpacas roaming around. Everyone gets more bags of food and you can feed and pet the animals.
A few babies had been born recently too! So sweet! This one was still nursing and needed a little jacket for the chilly morning.
Alpacas are not skittish or scary in any way. They eat out of your hand gently and don't mind being pet. The perfect animal really! I can't tell you how many times Kate asked to bring one home! Ha! After the feeding time was done, we came back inside and Yaya talked about how they shear the alpacas and how they sell the fleece and also make goods from the fleece. There is a store where you can buy gloves and socks made from alpaca fleece. My friend and I wanted to buy some dryer balls but Yaya said he can't keep them in stock!
We had a great morning doing something new! I love when you can continue to explore your city and do new things! Yaya's Alpaca Farm has a laid back and enjoyable atmosphere. This is definitely worth the drive and something for all ages! You can click here to find out about pricing and times available for visiting!