Indianapolis Community and Life

Local Shops: Gift Giving at Its Finest

Posted by Paula Henry on Oct 19, 2014 10:30:00 AM

Here at Home to Indy, we love supporting the locals - local artists, local restaurants, and local shops. If you happen to be new to the area, you may not have stumbled on some of these gems. Whether you're looking for a birthday present, something for a baby or bridal shower, or simply a "just because" gift for someone you love, you're sure to find something you love at these local spots. From Zionsville to Carmel, Indianapolis all the way down to Greenwood, we've got some of the best shopping around! 


Silver in the City

434 Massachusetts Ave.

Silver in the City is known for their silver jewelry, but they also offer home decor and gifts. Their WHATNOT section makes it easy to buy for the hard-to-buy-for, while their HOUSEWARES helps you "clutter tastefully."  


433 Massachusetts Ave.

You'll "Oooh" and "Awww" your way through Nurture's selection of baby and toddler clothing and accessories. The apparel, much of which is locally made or made from organic materials, runs from newborn to 4T. The store also carries toys, accessories (the baby sunglasses are a top seller) and more.


869 Massachusetts Ave.

Shop contemporary handmade such as locally made t-shirts for men, women and children and wood jewelry by Allison Ford of Studio AMF. Right in the heart of Mass Avenue, Homespun is sells the work of more than 200 artists. 


Girly Chic

922 E. Westfield Blvd.

In addition to a bricks-and-mortar space, Girly Chic boasts a boutique on wheels. Specializing in clothing, accessories and gifts for women and girls, the shop and truck carry feminine looks from the flowy to the fitted. The shop also has a little girls section. 


Pillow Talk

23 E. Main St., Carmel

Pillow Talk boasts an assortment of flirty and fun lingerie, lounge wear and sleepwear from brands like Piccadilly by Lou Paris and Eberjay alongside scented candles, dainty jewelry and even games like Sexy Truth or Dare. Consider it your one-stop-shop for bachelorette party and wedding shower gifts.



With shoppes in Geist, Fishers, Carmel, the Fashion Mall, and their newest in Zionsville, Delaney's is a one-stop shop for that special gift. They boast an eclectic mix of home decor, jewelry, clothes, candles, holiday decorations, and more. It's a great place to browse!

What are some of your favorite local shoppes? Comment below - we'd love to know!



Topics: Local Indy, Local Business

What You Need to Know About Down Payments

Posted by Paula Henry on Oct 16, 2014 10:30:00 AM

Buying a home is such an exciting event! But it can also be filled with lots of questions, especially if you've never purchased a house before. You may hear terms that you're unfamiliar with - like equity, mortgage, down payment (and more). We know that it can be a lot to take in for even a second or third-time homebuyer.

Here at Home to Indy, we love educating our clients so that they know what to expect. That's why we've compiled this post about what you need to know about down payments.


What is a down payment exactly?

A down payment is the money that you, as the buyer, pay out of your own pocket right at the start toward the purchase of your home. It's your way of putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak, that you are investing in the process. Thus, a downpayment is the first step in securing your mortgage, which is usually a percentage of the property's worth. It  acts as a deposit between you and the lender.

How much should I put down?

The simple answer here is, "As much as possible." Despite seeming like a simple transaction, deciding how much to invest depends on several factors and is super important, as it will affect your future morgage. Obviously, you want to make the best decision for you so that you get off to the best start possible with your mortgage. Here are a few factors to consider:
  • Your interest rate. The more money you put toward your downpayment, the lower your interest rate will be. This means that you will have lower monthly payments.
  • The type of loan. How much you invest will affect whether a fixed-rate mortgage or an adjustable rate mortgage is right for you. (If you're hard pressed to make a large downpayment, then an adjustable rate mortgage with lower initial monthly payments may be beneficial. 
  • Whether you pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). This typically applies to those who pay less than 20% of their property value as a down payment. Borrowers who are required to pay this are deemed as a bigger risk because the lender is loaning them more money with a higher potential loss if it goes into default. 

What is LTV?

LTV is Loan to Value Ratio. In mortgages, this is a term used to express the ratio of a loan to the value of the property purchased (i.e. how much you have left to pay after your down payment). This is one of the main factors, along with credit score rating, that lenders take into account when considering you for a loan. The higher your downpayment, the lower your loan and your LTV ratio will be.

An example

Let's say you want to purchase a home with an appraised value of $305,000. The agreed purchase price is $300,000. If you put $50,000 down as a downpayment, that leaves $250,000 left to meet the purchase price. $250,000 is 83% of $300,000. ($250,000 divided by $300,000 is 0.83 which is multiplied by 100 to make it a percentage.)

Making the right choice for your down payment affects a lot more than just how much you initially have in your pocket. Deciding whether it's worth investing in a large payment to get lower monthly payments without the added cost of PMI can be hard if you're in a rush. But sometimes it's the more sensible financial option.

For more information on choosing the mortgages and downpayments, let us know. We're here to help!  

Did we miss anything? Or do you still have questions? If so, put them in the comments below!

Topics: Buying a Home, Downpayments

On the Road Again: An Indiana Road Trip Guide

Posted by Mandy Padgett on Oct 14, 2014 10:30:00 AM


Everybody needs a breather now and then, but full blown vacations can be hard to come by. That doesn’t mean, you need to forego the relaxing qualities of getting away. Indianapolis just happens to be central to a huge number of fantastic little retreats which would appeal to a broad range of interests, all situated about 5 hours or less from home, or in other words, close enough to make a 3- day weekend a bona-fide treat. Here’s a virtual tour of a few itineraries!


The Outskirts of Chicago may be a no-brainer destination from Indy, but did you know there are lots of equally charming and less crowded suburbs of Chi-town which are more than worth visiting? Take, for example, the absorbing little town of Glen Ellyn just 23 miles west of Chicago, whose adorable boutiques and Tudor-style downtown streets make for a great girls get-away. It could also be a good option to stay outside of the city and then take a day-trip in, depending on how much time you have! Try Waterleaf, a French and American white tablecloth affair, and then catch a rest at The Inn at Water’s Edge

Bonus: If you detour about 30 minutes East of 65 in Gary, you’ll come to Michigan City, where the Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets live. This is an extraordinary outlet with an enormous collection of stores, including BCBG, Banana Republic, Anne Taylor, Michael Kors and Kenneth Cole.

The River Road from Ottowa to Havana - Although it sounds exotic and far, it’s actually just a lush, scenic run between two cities in Illinois, perfect for nature lovers. Along this national scenic byway you can take in the waterfalls and canyons of Starved Rock State Park and then visit the Chataqua.page1image15568 page1image15728 page1image15888 page1image16048 

National Wildlife Refuge is home of over 200,000 birds of all varieties. Then, visit the Mark Twain Hotel, and resolve the stretch at August Hill Winery.

Galena, Illinois - Nestled along the Mississippi river, this little gem has over 100 shops and restaurants, as well as lovely scenic attractions. It was recently voted one of America’s top 10 best small towns, you’d be in for a sweet treat with this pick. 


Of course, Ohio has Kings Island and Cedar Point and the world-famous Tony Packo’s hot dog, but our Eastern neighbor has more to love than that!

The Hocking HillsA sprawling state park area in Ohio full of every piece of nature appreciation you could possibly want. Everything from gorges, forrest, cliffs, bird watching, star programs, caves, waterfalls, trails, cabins and more. If a nature getaway is your thing and you’ve done everything here at home, this would be a big win. Hocking Hills also has a quaint collection of little artisanal shops, reminiscent of Nashville, Indiana

ClevelandTake a morning at West Side Market, a sprawling public market with origins all the way back to the 1840’s. Browse the 100+ vendors who pedal everything from cheeses and herbs, to flowers, produce and meats. Then wander the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, the incredible Wade Chapel, catch an Indians game or spend one of your get-away days in the wild, peaceful Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The VineyardsWhile it might not be napa, there is a wine trail as nearby as Ohio, running along the Southern border of Lake Erie. With covered bridges, scenic drives, and Bed and Breakfasts galore, you can’t miss if you’re looking for some ultimate relaxation. Check out for more info.


If you’ve the all of the usual spots; Brown County and French Lick, here are a couple of others worth trying:

Madison - Sitting perched on the edge of the Ohio, Madison is as lovely as she is charming. With a downtown full of shops, restaurants, galleries and B&B’s, it’s sure to be a home run for a weekend getaway. In the Summer, Madison hosts the Madison Regatta, an event with live music, street vendors fireworks and of course, amazing regatta racing.

Nappannee - Sometimes a person can hunger for the simpler things and that’s what you’ll find in the old Amish countryside of Nappannee. Visit the rustic and beautiful Amish Acres where you can sample the lifestyle and the delicious country fare.


LouisvilleYou might be surprised to find that Louisville has quite the range of amenities to take advantage of, including it’s world famous glass blowing, the Urban Bourbon Trail, or the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. And then, of course there are specific events like the Kentucky Derby or the St James Court Art Show, held in the fall. 

Where are some of your favorite places to road trip? Comment below. We want to know!


Topics: Just for Fun

4 Easy DIY Halloween Crafts for Your Home

Posted by Paula Henry on Oct 12, 2014 10:30:00 AM

Here at Home to Indy, Fall is one of our favorite times of the year. The weather is cooler, the leaves are changing, and Halloween is right around the corner. 

In the spirit of this spooky holiday, we thought we'd share some easy DIY Halloween crafts for you and your family to help decorate your new home! Not only will it be a fun activity for you, it will add some spook-tacular decorations for your Trick or Treaters. 

Note: We know we're posting this early, but we wanted to give you time to make these boo-tiful masterpieces.


Hanging Ghosts

Ghosts are a must when it comes to Halloween decorating, and these happen to be really easy to make. With a few Styrofoam balls, some cheesecloth and a black marker, you can create tons of these spooks to hang all over your porch (or inside  if you prefer). Shredding the cheesecloth at the bottom gives your ghosts a very really eerie look. 


Candy Corn Bottles

No table is complete for Halloween without a centerpiece - or these sweet-looking decor would also look great on your front porch steps. These are super easy to make and look great once completed. Simply spray paint the candy corn colors onto old glass bottles, then add some ribbon. This is a great project that you can keep from year to year. You can make one bottle - or several - to create a beautiful display. Don’t forget to add a little real candy corn as well!


Crafty Pumpkins

So, pumpkins have to be part of your Halloween décor, right? Instead of carving them (which is also fun), you can decorate them in other ways. This lets you have really great décor for the holiday, and it won't "wilt" like carved pumpkins tend to over time. Decorate your Halloween pumpkins with ribbon, buttons, markers or whatever you have on hand. You can be as creative (or scary) as you like.


Tin Can Luminaries

Tin can luminaries are a great way to add a bit of Halloween to  without spending a lot of money. (If you already have the cans on hand, you likely won’t have to spend a penny.) Rip off your tin can labels and poke holes in them with a hammer and a nail spelling out Halloween phrases (like "Trick" or "Boo"). Paint them dark colors for an added effect after you add candles to the bottom of them. These are great for lining your drive, sitting on your porch, or hanging. 


Here's to a happy, safe, and boo-tifully decorated Halloween!

Do you have other easy DIY Halloween crafts you like to make? Share your ideas in the comments below! 

Topics: Children, Halloween, Crafts

Best Locations to Take Photos in the Indianapolis Area

Posted by Paula Henry on Oct 9, 2014 10:30:00 AM

Indianapolis is a obviously a beautiful city, and it happens to be photogenic. So there are TONS of great places to take pictures here. Whether you are looking for a place to take the family to snap some shots yourselves - or you're wanting to work with a professional photographer for your engagement pictures, these locations will work well for both. From urban to rustic locations, Indy has them all!


Downtown Indianapolis

The heart of the city is a great location for those who want a completely urban setting. The Soldiers and Sailor's Monument, the State House, and the Circle all make for great spots. But, there are lots of fun nooks and crannies within the city including rustic alleyways and fun store fronts. Don't forget the Canal and Lucas Oil Stadium (if you're a Colts fan)!

Downtown Carmel

Bring your walking shoes and travel around charming downtown Carmel! It has a variety of fun places to take pictures, including the Monon Trail, older-looking store fronts, and the creative art statues. A great way to end the day is with cupcakes or ice cream at the end of your session. (We love Huddles!) 

Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) and 100 Acres Woods

The IMA is located on the near North West side of the city and is home to the trendy LOVE statue. It also has lots of gardens that are groomed professionally. It is truly a gorgeous location! 100 Acres Woods is right around the corner from the IMA and is such a fun location! There are a variety of backdrops including water and greenery, a modern basketball court with fun tubing, an interesting tunnel, and stairwells. This area isn’t as well groomed as the IMA, but there it's still a great location for some rustic/outdoorsy shots.

Coxhall Gardens

Located in Carmel, Coxhall Gardens includes lots of well groomed flowers and greenery, as well as some fun structures. You can’t leave Coxhall Gardens without doing at least one jumping picture, as there is a fun amphitheater with large steps perfect for them. The only drawback to this location is that there is very little shade. This location is best for shorter sessions as close to sunset as possible.

Garfield Park

Garfield Park is located on the southeast side of the city. Here, you will find three distinctly different backdrops. If you go inside the gardens you will find an indoor greenhouse. Outside the greenhouse you will find professionally-groomed flowers and a garden. Finally, if you keep walking you will find a more rustic/natural setting. This last area includes rustic greenery, a fun bridge, walking paths, and even a rail road track. This location is perfect for those unpredictable colder months (since you can always opt for an indoor location if it is too cold outside for a long session).

Holcomb Gardens

This location is on Butler University’s campus. But don’t worry, you won’t find any giant Butler logos or any bulldogs here. Instead, you will find a giant weeping willow over the canal, a fun bridge, well groomed greenery, an area of ungroomed greenery, a gazebo, and even a little water feature. This location is great yearround!

Fort Harrison State Park

Fort Harrison State Park is on the northeast side of the city and is a great backdrop yearround. (It's perfect in the fall to capture the beauty of the changing leaves!) This park is ideal for a couple or family that wants to capture lots of nature in their images. The backdrop selections here include water, wooden bridges, brush, lots of trees and natural greenery, walking paths, and more.

Keep in mind, these aren’t the only places in Indianapolis to take great pictures. In fact, do you know of a spot that we missed? If so, leave it in the comments below. We'd love to know! 


Topics: Indianapolis, Family

Fall Reading List: Indiana Authors Edition

Posted by Mandy Padgett on Oct 7, 2014 10:30:00 AM


Rolling in on ever cooler wind, as the leaves unfurl and the flowers dry, Fall comes. With it comes plans for Halloween plans, and my favorite; Fall reading lists. This Fall I was intrigued to investigate Indiana authors, since a few have made the best seller lists lately, and I thought, for 2014, I would put together a Reading List: Indiana Authors Edition. Here, in no particular order, are my picks:

Under The Heaven Tree - An Indiana Childhood - by William Bridges

Poet and journalist William Bridges weaves a striking tale of life in Franklin and Vincennes, Indiana, during the time between the 1930’s and the 1950’s. This book follows the story of an eclectic, artistic family as they weave through the secrets and delights of small town living, this beautifully wrought classic. This work was published in 2004 and was one of many works by author Bridges, who was a widely-acclaimed consultant, speaker and writer. Other topics of his include travel anthology “Places & Stories” and the widely renowned “Managing Transitions - Making the most of Change”

The Fault in Our Stars - by John Green

Receiving enormous critical acclaim, including time on just about every best seller list there is, the fourth novel of John Green is on my must-read list. It debuted in film form this summer, but I’m eager to get the book under my belt. From what I understand, this one is one of those “all-emotion” experiences that takes you though wit, wisdom and sorrow in one thrilling ride.

A Girl Named Zippy; Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana - by Haven Kimmel

This New York Times Bestselling memoir takes readers through the endearing story of Zippy, a girl born in 1965, who navigates the harrows and hilarity of a small town. Reviews call this book witty, quirky and entertaining. I anticipate based on my dust-cover sixth sense that it will not disappoint.

Time Quake - by Kurt Vonnegut

An Indiana Author’s book list couldn’t be complete without a selection from perhaps our most famous author, Kurt Vonnegut. Written with his usual wicked, ironic wit, he dips into a science fiction tale about a universal hiccup which results in ten years of deja-vu. His usual no-nonsense social critiques are present as society deals with our condition when we encounter the loss of free will, the disparity between reality and memory and regret.

Sister Carrie - By Theodore Dreiser

In this work about choices and outcomes, Theodore Dreiser shows us Carrie Meeber who leaves her home to seek fame and fortune in the city. Cited as the greatest American urban novel, this tale of conflict and ambition is considered one of Dreiser’s greatest works.

Bean Blossom Dreams - by Sallyann J. Murphey

A memoir of former BBC producer Sallyann Murphey as she trades the big city life for something simpler in the rural area of Bean Blossom. Following her family’s first year on a farm, this endearing story will make you want to ditch it all and head for where there are open spaces and fresh air. 

So here’s a selection to get your started. Love them or hate them? Leave a comment! Do you have a recommendation of your own for your favorite Indiana-author read? Tell us! We’d love to hear! If you suggest it, I’ll read it! 

Topics: Books

Indianapolis Gluten Free Restaurants Sure to Please Your Taste Buds

Posted by Paula Henry on Oct 5, 2014 10:30:00 AM

Restaurants abound here in Indianapolis, and we love to partake of them - from local joints to national chains. If you're new to the area and happen to be gluten free, then you know how difficult it can be to eat out. 

One of the most stressful parts about eating out on a gluten free diet is trying to figure out what’s safe to eat. Some restaurants don’t provide gluten free menus, while others require you to search through those annoyingly long “allergy/nutrition” charts online that literally takes you hours to navigate. And then there are times when restaurants don’t do either of those.


Why gluten free?

A gluten free diet is one that excludes gluten, which is a protein composite found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye. Gluten causes health problems in sufferers of celiac disease and those with a wheat allergy. But even for people without those issues, there are many perks to going gluten free. For one, gluten is associated with autoimmune diseases. It can cause leaky gut syndrome, and it's a pro-inflammatory agent. The less you have in your body, the easier you can regulate your insulin levels. 

Where to eat

Whether you've recently decided to go gluten free or if you've been on the diet for several years, you're likely looking for restaurants that lend themselves to your eating preferences. Here are a few of our favorite Indianapolis options.

Casual Restaurants:

Chipotle naturally lends itself to gluten free customers. Their rice bowls are delicious, as are their salads which you can top with their plethora of fresh ingredients and great meats. They also have corn (soft and hard) tortillas, so your options are plentiful. (We equally love Chipotle for its anti-biotic free, hormone free meats!) If you have a serious gluten allergy, you might ask that the server change gloves before they prepare your meal.

Monon Food Company is a local restaurant in Broad Ripple that is also gluten free friendly. Although they don't have a special gluten free section on their menu, they feature scrumptious options like their Portabella Mushroom, Quinoa, Mofoco Pork, salads, chicken, and more! If you've not been, we highly recommend it!

Other gluten free casual restaurants include: Chick-Fil-AChili's, and Jason's Deli

Nicer Restaurants:

Harry and Izzy's is a staple here in Indianapolis and can be found at the airport, Downtown, and in Keystone. They have a gluten free menu that includes delicacies (from appetizers to desserts) like their World Famous Shrimp Cocktail, Smoked Pork Chops, and creme brulee. If that doesn't make your mouth water, I don't know what will! 

Cooper's Hawk Winery is a great place to take the entire family. Their gluten free menu includes delicious wines, seafood, beef, chicken, salads, and more! We recommend their Sea Scallops, Annie's Chicken Saltimbocca, and their Filet Mignon. Yum! 

Miyagi's is a Japanese sushi bar and restaurant located on 96th Street in Fishers. Although they don't have a specific gluten free menu, many of their offerings are available for those with special dietary needs. From sashimi to rolls to Nigiri, Miyagi's is sure to please your taste buds. 

Additional nicer restaurants with gluten free options include: Maggiano's Little ItalyThe Melting Pot, and Abuelo's

If you still need help, there's an app for that! Check out the Find Me Gluten Free App. Indianapolis also has a Gluten Free Diet Support website that could prove to be helpful. 

Bon appetit! 

What restaurants did we miss? Let us know your favorite Indianapolis gluten free restaurants in the comments below! 


Topics: Indianapolis, Food

Fall Landscaping Ideas for Your Home

Posted by Cecily Hood on Oct 2, 2014 10:30:00 AM

The following is a guest post by Cecily Hood of Contain Yourself Design, an Indianapolis-based company that specializes in seasonal container design, as well as landscaping for both commercial and residential clients. Ms. Hood graduated from Ball State University with a degree in Landscape Architecture, and she has been working in the industry ever since.

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. Not only is it a beautiful season with leaves changing, it's also a great time to spruce up landscaping because it is prime time for planting! (The cooler weather makes it nice, too.) 

If you have recently purchased a new house, you may be looking for some ideas for your landscaping. After all,  it sets the tone for your home and can majorly boost your curb appeal. But if you're not an expert in plants, you may be hesitant to make any major adjustments. Well, you've come to the right spot because I'm going to share with you several Fall landscaping ideas for your home.


Fall = Ideal for Landscaping

Fall is one of the best times to plant - from Evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs, to perennials all the way down to grass seed - the weather isn't as hot and we tend to get more rain. These conditions limit the amount of initial stress the plants receive which causes them to adapt to their new environment quickly. Most people think of Fall as the dead time of the year, but I think it's probably the coolest part of a plant's life. All of the blooms that once were have now formed seed pods which add a unique texture to the garden, which we'll talk about a bit later.

Fall is a great time to plant mums, but they are annuals so don't expect them to come back next year. For a fun display, I love to add in straw bales, corn stalks, indian corn, pumpkins, and gourds. There are so many fun accents you can add to really make your landscape pop in the Fall - like ornamental peppers (but don't eat them!).

Starting from Scratch

If you are hoping to completely re-do your landscaping, I recommend hiring an expert - or at least consulting someone who works at a nursery to help give you some guidance. But here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to landscaping.

If you don't like the landscaping that is around the home that you just purchased, ripping it out to start over is fine. But you need to make sure that you account for draining. If you're ripping plants out, you'll be creating a void in the soil where the roots used to be (which soaked up water). So where is the water going to go now? The last thing you want to do is have it go down to the foundation of your house. So make sure you create a slope that goes away from the house.

From there, I like to consider your "foundation planting," which is what you plant around the base of your house so that it doesn't look naked during the winter months. These would be things like evergreens shrubs that keep their needles year round. They can be used up against the house to hold the cover and keep continual interest.

Anchors and Layers

There are no real rules to landscaping in that it really boils down to personal preference. But I like to have anchors - larger trees or shrubs at the side corners of the house to hold your view. So if you look at the house, your eye catches these areas.

I also like to do layers of plants. In a landscaping bed, I would put tall ones in the back then gradually work down to the shorter pieces in the front. If price is an issue, start with some of the foundation pieces in the back (like tall grasses or shrubs) then work your way forward each season as you have more money to spend.

Bloom Time

You'll also want to consider bloom time when you plant. Ideally, you design for all 4 seasons of interest - meaning, you want the landscaping to look good (and have something in bloom) during all 4 seasons. In regards to perennials, Spring bloomers would be flowers like Tulips and Daffodils. Summer bloomers are Daisies, Daylilies, and Phlox. Fall bloomers are asters.


Another key to planting is to mix textures, which makes just as big of an impact as colors do. Dainty flowers like Nepeta (Catmint) and Echinacea (Coneflower) can be mixed with the harsher foliage of a Perennial grass to create a cool effect of color and texture. Remember when I mentioned the seed pods earlier? They can help add varied texture to your landscaping beds. Plants take on a whole different look in the summer than they do in the Fall. Hydrangeas turn from white to green in the Summer then brown; Ornamental grasses have a plume flower that appears in late Summer and Fall.


Fall is prime time for planting bulbs (tulips, daffodils, alliums, etc). In order for them to bloom, they have to go through a period of extreme cold before they are able to rejuvenate in the spring. If they don't go through that, they won't come up. So if you want Spring flowers, make sure you plant the bulbed ones in the Fall.

Additional Tips

Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind as you're doing landscaping:

  • Don't plant trees close to your house. They need space to grow; you don't want the branches to interfere with your house or the roots to mess with your foundation.
  • Fertilize your annuals once a week and water them three times a week (Weather depending).
  • As a general rule, don't plant anything during a month that ends in "y" (January, February, July, etc). It's too hot or to cold.
Whatever you do with your landscaping, make sure you use plants that you love!

If you have any questions about landscaping or are looking for help with your landscaping, you can contact Cecily via her website.

Topics: Curb Appeal, Gardening, Outdoor Living

All the Buzz: Beekeeping Basics

Posted by Mandy Padgett on Sep 30, 2014 10:30:00 AM


Sustainable, eco-friendly and useful gardens are trending these days. Fruit shrubs and trees, herb and vegetable gardens, compost piles, bees, chickens and goats all produce something and earn their keep in exchange for their little piece of your yard. But of these increasingly common backyard inhabitants, bees might be the most interesting.

Not only do bees offer big benefits, they actually need some things from us humans, right now. However, due to the whole “stinger issue” they’ve gotten sort of a bad rap. However, the truth about bees, their contribution and how you could benefit and help might surprise you. So, here are some facts, fictions and tips for anyone considering trying their hand at the role of Apiarist.

About Bees

First a little information about bees; Bees are both brilliant and absolutely necessary to life as we know it. With a complex social structure and method for communication within each hive, bees live in their own perfect order. As for communication, bees have their own special dance language for communicating the coordinates of pollen! Amazing.

Additionally, bees are responsible for pollinating one third of our entire food supply, including things like apples, carrots and onions. However, since 2006 scientists have expressed growing concern about the mass disappearance and death of entire colonies of bees. This could have huge implications for our existing food system, and many point to the growing number of pesticides we are using on the majority of agriculture these days. This is why providing bees with chemical free places to continue the work they do is actually quite essential.


Not only do bees provide incredible value through the work of pollination, they produce honey, which aside from being incredibly delicious is also incredibly good for you. Here’s some sweet facts about honey:

  • In ancient times, honey was used as a poultice on wounds. Today, we understand that this worked because of it’s high antibacterial properties.
  • Honey doesn’t go bad because bacteria can’t grow in it! Recently, archeologists found honey in a 2000 year old tomb, and the honey was still perfect, like the day it was made. This is, of course, provisional on honey being stored correctly.
  • Honey can be used as a sweetener in most anything that regular white sugar is in, by simply replacing every 1 cup of sugar in your recipe with 3/4 cups of honey and then reducing the liquid in the recipe (water or milk etc) by 1/4 a cup for every 3/4 cup of honey.
  • Not all honey is created equal. Most of the stuff you find in the regular grocery store has been “heated and treated”, which means that, like any other vegetable, many of the characteristics of honey which make it so healthful have been destroyed. Another reason for having your own hive; you’ll have your own crop of raw honey.
Bee Keeping

So what would keeping bees for yourself look like? Well, they don’t require feeding in the traditional sense, or even much space. If you’re an aspiring apiarist, there are a few simple things to understand in order to get started.

Before you actually get your bees, you need to have a few things. First, a bee suit, for you. While working with bees isn’t incredibly dangerous, it’s still just good practice to wear the bee suit, so you’re not agitated or distracted. You’ll also need a smoker, to calm your bees before working with them.

Depending on what you have in mind, you’ll need to decide what type of hive you want. There are plenty of options out there, from the familiar white boxes, to a V-Frame. You could buy or build yourself. The same options apply for your frames, inside of which the bees will build their comb and lay their eggs. (Or sometimes you can buy pre-combed frames if you want to make things go a little faster.) There are lots of options, which can be explored online or even in person. Here’s a few local places with all the resources you could want. The Indiana Beekeepers Association and Central Beekeepers Association.

Bagging Your Bees

The simplest way to get your bees is to order them, from either a local company or you can also have a queen shipped to you. If you’ve got a little more experience, a lot of fearlessness and a willingness to do a little reading/youtube-ing before you go, you can (theoretically) capture your own hive, out in the wild. But make sure you have a smoker and bee-suit!

The Care and Containment of Your Bees

Put your hives near their food supply! This includes clover patches, honeysuckle, orange blossom, any fruit trees, and more. Do a little research about what plants and flowers bees like and make sure you’ve got that on hand for your bees or if not on your own property, that they have access to it somewhere near where you live. The nice thing about this is once you’ve got all of this planted and situated, it should largely care for itself, year after year.

One other method would be to leave a portion of your yard to be reclaimed by the wild. This ‘non-planting’ for bees is effective. You’ll get wildflowers in your very own pocket meadow. Bees love meadows! However, if you live in a subdivision, make sure you’re not violating any codes by having a “wild patch.” Speaking of subdivisions, it’s usually a good idea to check with codes and even with neighbors when bringing in any addition like this.

When you go to harvest your honey, there are lots of methods available. In fact, the harvesting process is probably a whole separate article. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to leave enough honey in the hive to feed the bees during the winter months, so you don’t get to claim every last drop of bounty. But bees which are happy and well fed will easily produce far more than they need, leaving you with gold to spare....which means gold to share (or sell, or save)!

The Question of When

Get your bees in the Spring. They multiply in the warmth of summer, because summer is when they work, gathering nectar, and making honey.

So, in summary, putting all of this together may take a little planning, and my best recommendation would be to start the Summer and Fall prior to when you’d like to actually have your bees, with setting up the feeding plants, hives and collecting your necessary supplies.

If keeping bees isn’t for you, at least consider buying only raw honey from local honey producers, instead of the little bear on the big chain shelf. This helps support the folks that are working to save our pollinating little friends!

Topics: Things to do in Indianapolis, Outdoor Living

Beefy Goodness: The Best Burgers in Indianapolis

Posted by Paula Henry on Sep 28, 2014 10:30:00 AM

On crisp Fall days, we love to grill out - especially burgers. (Hopefully those of you with new homes are also enjoying this part of home ownership as well!) But there are also days that we just don't feel like cooking, so we opt to go out. With so many amazing burger joints in Indy, how is one to choose?

From Greenwood to Downtown to the North side, Indianapolis is covered with endless options to get some beefy goodness. Below we've highlighted some of our favorite places to get burgers, but the list is certainly not exhaustive. 


Bru Burger Bar

Bru Burger has earned the title of Best Burger in Indianapolis (according to the Indy A List) in 2013 and 2014, and it certainly does not disappoint. Located on Mass Ave, they have 17 burgers to choose from. From the Mexicali to the Cheese Garlic Burger, they have something everyone's taste buds will love. Not into beef? No problem! They feature gourmet chef burgers, as well as veggie, turkey, and ahi tuna varieties. 

Bubs Burgers and Ice Cream

Bubs is conveniently located right off the Monon Trail in downtown Carmel. It's home of the Big Ugly, a one pound burger (post-cooking weight) that when consumed gets your picture on the wall. But if you don't have a massive appetite, they have smaller options as well. Their buns are custom made to fit their burgers at a local bakery. If you're watching your calories, try their Elk Burger, which is a healthier option. Oh, and we love that Bubs is a family-owned-and-operated business; "Bub" can usually be found in the back pattying burgers or visiting tables most days of the week.

Between the Bun

Between the Bun is in Greenwood and is another locally-owned-and-operated business. What's their secret? Their burgers are hand pattied daily and are made with hand made seasonings, spices, and the freshest ingredients. They boast 17 unique creations - including the PB&J Burger (peanut butter, pepper jack cheese, bacon, jalapenos, and maple syrup) and Lil Mama's Brunch Burger (cheese, egg, bacon, and maple syrup). If you're not in the mood with something a little out of the ordinary, they have plenty of "regular" options too - like their Classic Cheeseburger.

Boogie Burger

Boogie Burger is in the heart of Broad Ripple. Looking for healthier options? Their menu also has chicken, ahi tuna, and veggie burgers as well. A few of their specialties are the New York New York (1/3 pound burger stacked with pistrami and swiss cheese) or the Disco Inferno (grilled serrano chilies with pepper jack cheese) for those of you who like it hot.  If you visit, make sure you also have one of their award-winning shakes spun with hand-dipped ice cream. Yum! 

Punch Burger

Punch Burger is another local favorite Downtown. All of their beef is raised locally in Jasper, Indiana, with no hormones or anti-biotics. Choose from Angus beef, natural turkey, or vegan veggie patty, then load it up with your choice of toppings. Or you can try one of their delicious creations. We love the Texan (onion, cheddar cheese, and BBQ sauce) and the Aloha (ham, pineapple, swiss cheese, teriyaki glaze). They're sure to add a "punch" of flavor to their burgers! 

Where is your favorite place to get a burger in Indy? Comment below - we want to know!

Topics: Indianapolis