Shopping Small this Holiday Season

If you’re like any member of the Anchor Drop team, just because Christmas is over doesn’t mean the season of giving has ended. Whether you didn’t get quite what you wanted or needed, have a few lingering gifts to give, or have some extra cash burning a hole in your wallet, we’ve pulled together a list of our favorite small and/or local shops we like to support. From handmade trinkets to gifts that give back, there’s something for everyone remaining on your list – no matter your budget! Check them out:

Brittany’s Picks:

Lauren Honaker – The Honaker Home Maker

Lauren is one of the craftiest people I know with a love for rainbow colors, glitter, and Christmas decorations. She even has her own craft room in her house nicknamed “the craft castle” that definitely lives up to it’s name (just check out her pictures on Instagram!). In the spring of 2014, she was looking for a way to make meaningful gifts within her budget for the ten weddings she and her husband were invited to that year. An idea was born in her craft castle to use string art to create name boards for each couple. Her beautifully intricate work has now expanded from name boards to custom boards with holiday phrases and inspirational messages. She can also create a string art board of virtually any object or creature imaginable, whether it’s a watermelon, owl, pumpkin, elephant, or snowman to name a few.

Lauren’s dream was to make crafting her full time job, and her business has become such a success over the past year that she’s been able to make this dream come true! I’ve ordered several name boards from her myself for wedding gifts and she never disappoints with the beauty of her finished product. Check out her Etsy shop at and follow along on Instagram @thehonakerhome to see all of her fun creations, but be warned, you’ll want to own them all! Side note: Anchor Drop team member Courtney was gifted with one of Lauren’s amazing string art pieces for her wedding. Both she and her husband love it!

Molly Morehouse – Made By Molly

When Molly and I met, she was in school working towards her degree in Elementary Education. So of course we instantly bonded over our love for kids and teaching. When Molly became a mom to her adorable little boy, Liam, she decided to take some time off from teaching and use her talent for sewing to create her own business making one of a kind clothing apparel for infants. She specializes in making the cutest leather mocs and comfy Henley Sweats.

Her latest line of leggings made with the softest organic fabric came in such adorable prints that I wish she made them in my size! In the two years since Molly opened her Etsy shop, what started as a small side business has turned into a full time career that has allowed her to stay home with her family (which has also grown this year with the birth of her second son!).

Check out her Instagram @madebymolly and you’ll often get to see her cute little guys modeling her newest creations! If you’re looking for something stylish and snuggly for the littlest ones in your life then head over to her Etsy shop now! You’ll be sure to find the highest quality of work and love put into each handmade item!

madebymolly made by molly

Krista Dunbar – Woven and Threaded

My dear friend Krista and I share a mutual love for all things Africa. It is our passion and one of the bonds of our friendship. Last year, Krista made her second trip to Africa and traveled to Uganda with her church to serve alongside Compassion International. While she was there, she had the opportunity to meet Wasswa, the little boy she and her husband sponsor through Compassion.

Upon returning to the States, she decided to use her talent of knitting to open her own Etsy shop and give back a portion of each purchase to help with the sponsorship costs for Wasswa. Krista uses quality, locally sourced yarn to create adorable booties and beanies for babies and stylish custom knit hats for adults.

If you’re looking for something to keep you warm and stylish this winter or the perfect gift for a girlfriend, check out her Etsy shop at here and follow her on Instagram @wovenandthreaded. While you’re at it, check out her website www.wovenandthreaded.com to learn about her brand new consulting business. Krista is an amazing writer with a gift for sharing stories of how God is weaving a greater story through each person’s unique purpose.

Courtney’s Picks:

Lively Athletics

When I moved to Chicago, I was desperate to find an athletic/active community similar to the one I lived in Indianapolis. When my now husband (yay!) and I moved to Oak Park, IL, my first stop was the women’s athletic boutique I had been dying to visit since we decided to move – Lively.

I was running the Chicago Marathon in just over a month and needed some gels, but when I walked in the door, I was blown away by not just the awesome selection of gear (not just gear, but amazing quality, cute gear), but by the incredibly supportive staff. I walked out of the store with way more than just my gels – I walked out with four hand-written note cards directing me to the nearest and safest trails, a schedule for the weekly group runs out of the store, and an invitation to join the Women’s Running Club Best Foot Forward.

Lively is so much more than a store – it’s a community institution that helps women lead healthier, happier lives. Visit Lively on Facebook here.

Re:Find Joy

Ok, so Janelle and re:Find Joy aren’t necessarily a shop, but they are a small business that offers exceptional service. Janelle and I have been friends for almost eight years and she was the “lead designer” (re: lifesaver and master of everything) along with my mother-in-law (also master of everything) for my wedding this past October.

From floral to signage, props to general design direction, she made everything come together perfectly – and that’s just for a wedding! As her real job, Janelle (who is re:Find Joy) is a brand and space stylist, as well as a graphic designer and prop rental studio in Portage Park, IL, but she does work all across the U.S. Find out more about her work on her website and be sure to follow her on Instagram and Pinterest!

Erica’s Picks:

Fresco Spice Blends

My sister began telling me about Fresco Spice Blends a little over a year ago. I admit I was cautious at first, but I was hooked as soon as I tried them. They are actually out of my hometown Fort Wayne, Indiana, which gives me hometown pride (and I know my dollars are going to a community of people I know and love). Whenever I use them to make something people are always asking me how I seasoned or flavored something. Sometimes, if I’m honest, I don’t want to give my delicious secret away, because it really has nothing to do with me!

My top three favorites are Vanilla Apple Pie Spice for anything baked good, City Grille for burgers (oh my gosh I can’t even begin to tell you how good burgers taste with this), and Sweet Red Bell Pepper and Garlic is especially delicious on roasted vegetables. I also appreciate that they are very conscientious about the products they use. If you are looking for great gifts for the cook of your family, these come HIGHLY recommended!

I use Fresco Spice Blends all of the time when cooking. Check out these recipes that I’ve made so far:

Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding
Corn-Free Nachos

A Taste of Michigan Cherries

I found this little gem of a business last summer at the Arlington Heights farmers market and fell in love with their products. As someone who reacts negatively to many foods, I appreciate how careful and thoughtful they are with their ingredients. I also know they consult with a R.D. on what ingredients and changes they should be making. Not to mention their stuff is nothing short of delicious and amazing!

Of Dust and Wonder

I have incredibly talented friends, and Erin is one of the most talented people I have ever met. She isn’t just talented, but full of wisdom and vision. When she does something, it is with her whole heart and it is well researched. Recently she has started on a new adventure of making bags. I’ve seen these in person and they are absolutely adorable and of high quality. She recently spent time under a professional shoe maker learning techniques with leather and is using her skills on the handles for these bags. In case you have a thing for vintage clothing, she also finds vintage clothing, rehabs it, and sells it as well. Visit her Etsy store here.

Love Your Melon

If you’re looking for adorable hats with a noteworthy cause, this is it! All the hats are made in America and the organization is run by a group of college students. But the coolest part is that their goal is to provide every child battling cancer with a hat! So not only do you get a super cute, super comfy and super unique hat, but a child in need gets one, too! I encourage you to the check them out and pick some up for your favorite people.

Megan’s Pick:

Sweetie Baby Boutique

As a stay at home I have many friends who run their own small businesses. One of my favorites is Sweetie Baby Boutique. Julie, the owner and fabulous friend, designs adorable and affordable headbands, clips, chunky necklaces and leg warmers. She started the business in June 2013 after some encouragement from her husband (who also inspired the name) and has used Etsy and Facebook to steadily grow. Julie is a Navy wife and mom of three beautiful girls who lives with her family in Poway, California. She stays busy with her girls and still manages to produce amazing products.

Each item is handmade and done with impeccable quality. Julie is constantly sending out orders and strives to satisfy each customer, doing her best to always deliver on time if not early. She is frequently selling to bridal parties and families for photo shoots. Holidays provide a busy time for her as she has adorable seasonal headbands. To top this off, Julie is an all around fabulous person and I am blessed to call her a friend.

sweetiebabyboutique

Catie’s Picks:

Ambre Blends

Ambre Blends is a women owned and run business out of Indianapolis, Indiana. They have an online shop as well as several distributor locations. I like them because they are local, use pure ingredients and they work. Their products are unique and oh so wonderful. I personally am using their natural deodorant. I have put the natural deodorant to the test, too! I did some days of a 21 day challenge and didn’t stink or feel like I was lacking confidence.

I would recommend finding a distributor and testing each kind of sent out as they will adjust to your natural chemistry and create your scent. Each will smell differently with your skin. I have received so many compliments.

Live Crude

Live Crude was created by Master Esthetician Denise Cartwright who struggled with finding the right regimen to help her keep her skin normal and balanced. She developed this product based off the oil-cleansing method. To start, you might consider a Starter Kit.

I also have personally used this product and can vouch for the results. It worked well in keeping my skin moisturized and soft. They have a lot of tutorials and how-to’s on their site. All ingredients are naturally derived and the French clay and green tea detox masks are wonderful. Upon using it, I don’t feel the need to wear make up daily anymore. I just have this natural glow now.

Bite Beauty

Bite Beauty originated in 2009 out of Toronto Canada by founder Susanne Langmuir. Her guiding philosophy? “You eat what you put on your lips, so your lipstick should be good for you.” I love the fact that all of their make up is food grade ingredients and antioxidants.

I originally was looking for a good lip exfoliate. I came across Bite’s Whipped Cherry Fruit Scrub. It smelled and tasted like candy. It worked extremely well on my chapped lips. It was better than anything else I have tried on the market. Their lipstick/gloss collections are brilliant and wonderful colors.

Dr. Dan’s Lip Balm

Dr. Dan Viders, a Dermatologist in central Massachusetts, is the creator of an amazing lip balm which will help soothe and clear up any lip irritation. He has a very cool story actually. My cousin recommended me try this as her irritated lips were cleared up in 2 days. Perfect for the winter time. Dr. Dan is now working on formulating a chemical-free lip sunscreen which is pretty exciting! Pst: for more of my favorite make-up suggestions and more about Dr. Dan’s Lip Balm, check out this post.

The Gluten-free Diet: Myth or a Real Concern?

The gluten-free diet has taken hold of our nation at an alarming rate in recent years. For conventional physicians, if you do not have Celiac disease, you can eat gluten and stop listening to your friends. Recent media news and late night show hosts like Jimmy Kimmel have even bantered people for following a gluten-free diet by associating it with another fad diet. But are their symptoms really a placebo effect?

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First, what is gluten?

Sorry the Jimmy Kimmel clip above didn’t answer this for you. Gluten is a protein made from glutenin and gliadin found in barley, rye, and wheat plants. Our bodies need protein, and the building blocks for making proteins called amino acids, both non-essential (made by our bodies) and essential (ones our body cannot make and need to be consumed from our diet). However, in the last 30 years the way crops are grown have changed drastically, and maybe not for the better. The herbicides and pesticides have been extremely effective for increasing crop yield making farmers very happy. Continue reading “The Gluten-free Diet: Myth or a Real Concern?”

Healthy Holiday Recipes to Feed a Crowd

We’re coming upon the end of the holiday season, and if you’re anything like me, you’re already sick of cooking. That, or you’ve run out of things to cook/are sick of everything in your cookbook. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, birthdays and dinner parties – in the past three weeks I’ve spent more time in the kitchen than probably the past three months.

If you’ve read my most recent posts, you’re aware that I currently serve as lead blogger/community manager for Lifeway Foods. Over that past few weeks, I’ve been hard at work (with an awesome team) pulling together new and old recipe round ups for the holidays (Christmas and Hanukkah, respectively). The goal was to put together not only dishes that incorporated Lifeway products, but dishes that are delicious, nutritious and versatile. Continue reading “Healthy Holiday Recipes to Feed a Crowd”

5 Ways to STAY Committed to Your Fitness Goals

Raise your hand if you’ve said to yourself, “I’m going to exercise, eat better, lose weight and be healthy.” I would wager that the vast majority of you reading this right now would raise your hand.

“You have to be healthy, slim, beautiful, fast, swift, chiseled, ripped or toned to be beautiful and happy” is the uncontested message global (that’s right, not just American) media propagates to the world. “If you’re not just like this model, you have a lot of work to do.” Who’s been there? I have.

Marathons are all smiles when you're no longer running them.
Marathons are all smiles when you’re no longer running them.

I would bet even MORE money that those of you who initially raised your hand would also raise our hand if I asked, “Who among you has QUIT a fitness/health program?” It’s sad, but true. Statistics show that more than half the people who begin a fitness program will quit within the first three months. There are many reasons why they quit. They:

  • Don’t see results
  • Go too hard, too fast and burn out
  • Set unrealistic goals or expectations
  • Restrict too heavily and become ill
  • Aren’t interested in/excited by what they’re doing
  • Don’t celebrate small wins

Continue reading “5 Ways to STAY Committed to Your Fitness Goals”

Healthy Halloween Candy Corn Smoothie

I love the fall (so does everyone else on the Anchor Drop team, if you couldn’t tell!). Perfect weather, amazing produce and seasonally themed treats and holidays, it’s the perfect transition from hot summer nights to cold winter days (too soon – they’ll be here too soon!).

While Halloween has come and gone, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share one of my new favorite recipes with everyone. Disclaimer: I am the community manager for Lifeway Foods (Lifeway Kefir) and one of my jobs is recipe development. This recipe was originally developed by our team and published on Lifeway’s website here. You can also find it here. I take no credit for it!

healthy smoothie, healthy dessert
Image courtesy of Lifeway Foods

When someone tells you to try their Candy Corn smoothie, what would your first inclination as to its flavors be? Likely you would think it to be sickeningly sweet and kind of terrible (I did). But it isn’t. Not this smoothie, oh no. Continue reading “Healthy Halloween Candy Corn Smoothie”

I have a problem with the medical world..and I’m part of it

In the last week I have dropped more money on doctors appointments and prescriptions than the last 3 years combined. I always go to a yearly physical and dermatology appointment (and you should too), but this year there was much more going on. I have had migraines, asthma, and IBS for years, and recently they have gotten out of hand. No longer was my albuterol inhaler only needed once every couple of weeks, but it was being used daily. No longer was ibuprofen taking care of my migraines. No longer were my intestines being controlled by diet and exercise.

I don’t like taking medications unless absolutely necessary.  I would much rather change my lifestyle than take medications, however I also recognize when medications are needed.

I researched for weeks, read multiple doctors reviews,  and tentatively picked a new primary care in the suburbs. I had everything including my allergies, history, current medications, family history, and present complaints typed out for this new doctor so we could dig deep into my problems. She walks in the room, glances at my thoroughly typed out sheet, and promptly gives me 2 medications, tells me there is nothing really to do about my IBS, listens to my lungs, looks in ONE of my eyes, and walks out of the room.

I’m a nurse, nutritionist, and personal trainer. I know there are things to do. I know many are lifestyle issues. But my main issue? After I told her I had had all these horrible GI symptoms she didn’t even look at my stomach let alone press on it.  And I had absolutely no ease that nothing else is going on in my abdomen outside of IBS.

I am a part of the medical world and I left my doctors appointment beyond frustrated even though I talk the language. I left my appointment feeling like I should have never come. I left and I had a greater understanding of why so many of my patients waited years to see the doctor OR saw the doctor and their cancers took years to diagnose.

So this is my plea and my cry to the medical world from one who is in the medical world. Can we PLEASE slow down and listen as much as we can. I know demands are high. I know stress is high. But maybe, just maybe a few of us slowing down and showing that higher patient volume in small time frames is doing more harm than good.

So my medical friends out there… who is with me? Who will slow down and truly listen with me?

 

Welcome!

Welcome to Anchor Drop, a safe harbor to talk about life. This website is just getting up and running, but in the coming days/weeks, we’ll be sharing with you some pretty cool stuff focused on health, wellness, lifestyle, family, faith and fun!

Come back soon!

 

– the Anchor Drop Team

It keeps falling…

If you have not gotten any snow yet, do not fear: its COMING (well, if I could send it your way, I would). We have had snow fall almost constantly for the last week or so, ranging from light snow to winter storm. It is very pretty, but after a while it gets really old. I’m thankful that the roads are fairly clear (that’s a plus to living in a city that expects a lot of snow!); however when its cold and wintry out, and you have young children, there are times when some extra indoor ideas come in handy so that you all don’t get cabin fever. 

Maybe you are in the same boat as me with a little one who is still too young to do much activity-wise; we end up playing hide and seek around the corners in the house, or making faces in the mirror, or even “lets climb all over mommy” time. But then again, maybe you have kids who are at the “too cool for you” age. Either way, hopefully these simple winter crafts/activities will help you get through the long days stuck in the house.

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Growing up, my family and I always made these around the holidays. It became my little sister’s specialty; even if no one else wanted to make the snowmen, she would make sure a batch was created. They are fairly simple to make and are fun to create different personalities on the snowmen. They are also fun to eat 🙂 As they are not too sweet, it is very easy to eat about 10….hey they’re small! 🙂



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Okay, so your tree is already decorated and you are all ready for Christmas, but maybe you want to add some personal things to the tree to make it more your own. Or maybe your presents are already wrapped but you can’t find those gift tags you bought on sale last year. This year I am using salt dough gift tags for my presents. I actually wrapped them all up last night- so excited to see every one’s faces when they open their gifts this year! Salt dough is inexpensive and opens the door to let creativity rule! Mine bubbled up funny in the oven when I baked them but it wasn’t too bad. I have yet to figure out why that happened as all the tutorials I found showed beautifully flat pieces. One thing I would recommend would be to make sure you work fast as the dough does not like to sit (that might have been my problem). I used holiday cookie cutters and a small round lid to cut my ornaments/gift tags but you can you anything you want. I also used my holiday stamps to make indentations in the dough created some flair. Oh and make sure you remember to use a straw to make the hole for your string or ribbon. Once dried or baked, you can leave them as is or paint them. (Just a note about the linked tutorial- its maybe a little dated looking, but I was very impressed by her ornaments! Much more detailed than mine!)


Homemade Garlands

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I know, I know, your tree is all done- why do I keep telling you about decorations? Well, because I love decorations! Plus- even if your tree is done, that doesn’t mean that the rest of your house can’t use a little festive decorations 🙂 Also, these would be great to make with your kids. Super easy and super fun as you can make them however you want! You could even venture outside to get some pine cones for one of the garlands, turning it into a scavenger hunt as well as a fun craft. Sadly I have run out of time for making any more decorations this year, but I hope to try these out next holiday season. 


If these don’t suit your fancy, I hope you find other fun/family friendly activities that can occupy rambunctious little people. Have a wonderful and safe holiday season! We will be traveling a lot over the next week and a half so I probably won’t be posting again until the New Year- so on that note- Happy New Year as well!! 
Until next time- 
Ruth B.


Happy, Healthy Tailgating!

Senior year at IU when we beat Purdue!

I’m a Hoosier. I was born in Indiana and went to Indiana University for college. This means I was raised to be a football fan and to love tailgating. Anyone who knows anything about Indiana knows that we, as a state, love football and basketball. There are two large Big Ten schools in Indiana: Purdue and Indiana. Naturally, because they are in the same state, they are fierce rivals.
Growing up you are either a Purdue fan or Indiana fan. Of course you have the occasional split household. We also have Notre Dame, which it seems that everyone in Indiana supports – even around the country, unless you are a Michigan fan (I however, am not included in that “everyone”) Finally, you CAN’T forget about the Colts (I’ll be fair and include northwest Indiana residents with the Bears).
Football. Saturdays and Sundays in the fall plans are centered on the great American pastime of football. Whether it is on the TV or actually at the game, flowing drinks and excessive food are staples of a football weekend. And this isn’t just in Indiana.
So how do we, as health conscious people, still enjoy the wonderful world of football and tailgating? This is a blog devoted to being health conscious and still having fun during this wonderful thing we call football season! Follow, or at least keep in mind, the following tips and tricks as football season gets underway:
1. Eat healthy throughout the week. Making healthy food choices throughout the week is going to change your taste buds and influence what you crave. By eating healthy throughout the week, the “junk food” often served at football festivities will be less appealing.
2. Be conscious of what you are eating and plan ahead. A great alternative to cheap burgers and hot dogs is fish. You can also use a healthy veggie burger – black bean burgers are great alternatives. Take a night to make your own homemade veggie burgers or black bean burgers and freeze them. If you’re choosing to go with the meat, make sure that you are getting grass fed beef with no hormones or antibiotics that is less than 10% fat content. Another thing that you can make ahead of time is the beef. If the beef is on sale, buy enough to make burger patties to freeze. Add onion and garlic to your burgers for flavor and health benefits. As far as hot dogs go, let’s not get into the details of what goes into those cheap hot dogs. Applegatehas a great option out there for all beef hot dogs that have hormone and antibiotic free meat. It isn’t the best option, but is definitely a better option. The key when looking at any hot dog of any meat is to look for key words like uncured, antibiotic and hormone free, and grass fed. Be conscious of what you’re buying.
3. Sweet potatoes are a power food and a great substitute for the other fried potatoes we often eat. You can make your own sweet potato fries by peeling, dicing them into strips, and using olive oil and things like garlic to add flavor. Toss them on the grill for a delicious side! 
4. Be aware of the beverages you are drinking. Look at the calories in the alcohol and realize that drinking too much doesn’t just leave you feeling bad the next day. It also slows down the metabolism. Furthermore alcohol has a more calories than one may realize. Make sure you’re staying hydrated and not drinking too much alcohol. At the very least, stay away from sugary drinks such as sports drinks and pop; they’re packed with sugar and calories. This is not the way to spend your calories and you definitely don’t want that insulin spike.
5. Pinterest. It is a great resource for converting unhealthy recipes into healthy ones (there are also plenty of unhealthy ones on there too.
6. Don’t be afraid to pack the veggies and fruit. It is apple season and they are a very portable fruit! Also, carrot and celery sticks travel well. You could also make veggie kabobs to grill. If you want to spice it up a bit, make fruit kabobs and grill them with some cinnamon!
7. Most importantly be aware of what you are putting in your mouth. Be conscious and deliberate. Remember that everything you consume either honors or dishonors our body.
Happy football season everyone! We’d love to see your favorite football fan pictures!

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