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    As we navigate a new normal with COVID-19, we're finding new ways to get back to things and people we love. Read on as we chat with a local entrepreneur who recently launched a socially-distanced dining experience to safely celebrate life's important moments with small groups in a big way.


    The world is a much different place than it was at the beginning of the year, and the ability to gather like we once did is no longer an option. As we remain focused on keeping each other healthy and stopping the spread of coronavirus, we’ve suffered in other ways. 

    For some, dining out with friends and family is a beloved pastime that we’re unsure of when, or if, we’ll be able to do again. To help soften the harshness of not being able to go out and enjoy large dinners, Lindsey Huttenbauer of The Lindsey Baer Company launched L-EAT (pronounced ‘elite’), an elevated and socially-distanced dining experience for your inner circle of family and friends.

    “We promote intimate bespoke dinners for small gatherings with your nearest and dearest, with contactless service right to your doorstep,” she says. 

    The inspiration for L-EAT came from our sudden shift in socializing and the limitations that were put on something we once took for granted. 

    “Entertaining may have changed in recent times, but we all still want to be surrounded by those we love, now more than ever,” says Huttenbauer. “’How do we do that?’ is a question that we are often asked so we wanted to provide a new offering to allow our clients to enjoy one another in small groups while keeping social distancing in mind. Suggested seating options and other helpful hints are emailed following a purchase. We will also include social distancing signage along with a few other safety guidelines and tips in each meal kit. All staff, from the chefs and designers to delivery teams, will be following the recommended CDC safety guidelines while preparing each element of your experience. This includes wearing face masks and gloves, frequent hand washing, and social distancing from one another.”

    Huttenbauer teamed up with other experts from the entertainment industry including Renee Schuler from Eat Well Celebrations and Feasts, Maya LaLonde from Olive Street Creative, Kristen Folzenlogen from Poeme, and Kristen Sekowski from Yellow Canary Floral Design.

    The concept behind an L-EAT dinner is not just dinner but an experience. Dinners are $1,200 for groups of 8. The package includes place settings, custom dinner napkins and individual potted herbs – both favors for your guests, a festive playlist, personalized paper accents including menu and placecards, hang tags, custom cocktail napkins, social distancing signage, and more in addition to a delicious summer menu with hors d’oeuvres, salad, main course, and dessert.

    “We also include the option for additional florals and wine pairings from our Drink Spotlight Hart & Cru,” adds Hattenbauer. “The idea is to provide the host with all the needed elements to produce a lovely evening with little effort.” 

    Orders can be placed at lindsebaer.com/leat and are available for hands-free delivery Friday, September 4, or Saturday, September 5 only. Orders must be placed no later than Wednesday, August 26, so that the team has time to personalize each bespoke package. “Delivery is complimentary and only available within a 30-mile radius of downtown Cincinnati,” adds Hattenbauer. 

    You can learn more about L-EAT here. You can book a dinner by sending an email to L-EAT@lindseybaer.com

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      One of the biggest markets is back for its first in-person event of the year. We chat with the founders to learn what’s new this year and how they’re keeping everyone safe. Read on for a peek inside this event that features unique, vintage, handmade and repurposed furniture, home decor, gifts, and more in a picturesque, open-air farm setting.

      Amy Doyle and Jayme Kuenkel, co-founders of Charm at the Farm (Photo: Alicia + Will Photography)

      Charm at the Farm aims to be more than just a market, they want to offer an experience for customers and vendors alike. Located on a formerly award-winning 56-acre Clydesdale horse farm, Charm at the Farm is a vintage market that will be hosting its first in-person event August 21-23. 

      Jayme Kuenkel, co-owner of Charm at the Farm says the event features unique, vintage, handmade and repurposed furniture, home decor, gifts, and more in a picturesque, open-air farm setting.

      Charm at the Farm is typically held three weekends per year in June, August, and October, however, the June event was held online due to COVID-19. 

      “We are so excited to open the farm gates for August,” says Kuenkel. “We have been working closely with the Warren County Health Department and are implementing several new health and safety guidelines in alignment with the state’s recent mask-wearing mandate for Ohioians.”

      Kuenkel says this event, presented by Blume and Fleurish, features vintage pieces, clothing, furniture, and home decor from more than 115 talented artisans and shops, and 25 of those are attending Charm at the Farm for the first time.

      This Augusts’ Charm at the Farm event is offering a few firsts for guests, including an “early bird” admission ticket option for Saturday morning only. This gives guests the chance to shop early and also encourages staggered entry for social distancing. 

      “There will only be a limited number of both Saturday early bird and Friday night VIP tickets available, so snatch them up quickly if you want them,” adds Kuenkel. 

      VIP and early bird tickets include complimentary re-entry for the entire weekend. 

      Other new things coming to this market include an expanded variety of food trucks serving everything from coffee, tacos, BBQ, pizza, kettle corn, and more.

      All tickets for Charm at the Farm must be purchased online in advance only for this year’s markets as the team works to maintain social distancing and other health and safety guidelines. 

      Friday night VIP tickets for Charm at the FArm are $15, Saturday early bird tickets are $10, and general admission tickets are $5. Parking at the market is free. 

      Charm at the Farm is located at 4953 Bunnell Hill Road in Lebanon. You can view vendors, find answers to frequently asked questions, and purchase tickets at charmatthefarm.com. Health and safety guidelines for COVID-19 can be found here<charmatthefarm.com/stayingsafe>. You can also find market updates on Facebook and Instagram. 

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        A local woman is opening up a new salon that not only beautifies clients, but also showcases and supports other locally-based woman-owned businesses. Read on for all the details.

        Photo: Madison Borland Photography

        Melanie Scheel wanted to create a space that stylists can call home, a space that isn’t what you’d expect a salon to look like. At Gloss, you’ll find a high-end hair salon with a laid back vibe. 

        “You can come here to get swoon worthy locks while hanging out with a group of stylists who love and support each other and love nothing more than to make you feel like part of the family,” says Scheel.

        The aesthetic of Gloss is different from what you’ll find at many salons, and there’s a big emphasis on teamwork. 

        “We root for each other, we teach each other, and if you leave to pursue a different dream, it’s still your home base if you need or want it,” she adds. 

        Scheel, also known on Instagram as @the_balayage_mermaid, says her salon will open its doors on August 11. 

        Once the salon opens its doors, Scheel will offer the latest color and extension techniques, in a casual and fun environment.

        “Want your favorite celeb’s hair? Come see us at Gloss, no trip to California necessary,” she adds. 

        Additionally, Scheel wants to support local small businesses at her salon. She plans to carry locally-owned products for clients to shop while they’re there. She says she’s starting with Green Bee, a local, woman-owned beauty company.

        Gloss is located at 7251 Beechmont Avenue in Anderson Township. You can keep up with the salon on Instagram and Facebook.

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          A local woman launched an organization dedicated to helping children battle life threatening illnesses, and leaving a legacy by making them the superheroes of their own stories. Click here for all the page-turning details.

          Photo: Angie Lipscomb Photography

          Sarah Curry Rathel has been working with children battling life-threatening illnesses since 2004. 

          “I’ve met hundreds of sick children from around the world,” she explains. “None of them asked for these terrible and scary battles, yet they have no choice but to face them. Some are born fighting for their lives and never know anything other than being sick. Others experience a trauma or the onset of an illness and the life they knew changes instantly. Either way, these kids go through so much that other children, and even adults, don’t understand. Yet, they still want to laugh and be ‘kids’ just like everyone else. Their hearts are pure but they are put into a life that isn’t conducive to just being a child. They deal with the effects of steroids or chemo, they have tubs running in and out of them, they need oxygen to breathe, feeding tubes to eat, and wheelchairs to move. Even though this forces them to become ‘old souls’ in a way, inside, they are still innocent children.”

          The desire to help these sick children be children is the inspiration for Curry Rathel’s nonprofit organization the Smile Books Project.

          The Smile Books Project is dedicated to bringing smiles to children suffering from life-threatening medical conditions. 

          Curry Rathel, alongside her illustrator and co-founder Robert Kelly, create personalized books to make each child the main character of their own heroic story, with the sales of each book being donated back to the child. 

          “Smile Books Project doesn’t keep any money raised,” says Curry Rathel. “By doing this, not only can we share the stories of these heroes, lift their spirits and even their legacies, we can also help raise money to support them.”

          Together, Curry Rathel and Kelly work with the families of the children they write about, which she believes is what makes the Smile Books Project so impactful. 

          “These books become such a huge success when the community rallies behind the kids and puts that extra support in place,” says Curry Rathel. “Working with children all over the world has allowed us to see the power behind strong communities and that is something I wish everyone could see. The love and support these kids feel through their own book is priceless.”

          Curry Rathel wants to do her part in making a difference in the lives of children with life-threatening illnesses by bringing a little joy to their lives with these books. 

          “Not only do we bring smiles and give these children an outlet, but we share their messages and leave their legacies,” she says.. “One of the most heartbreaking things I have been told by children is that they are afraid people will forget them. This book helps ease that fear if that is their situation. For the parents we have written books for, we give them the chance to share things with their children who will grow up without them. These parents share with us only things they would know or be able to tell their children, including words of advice and wishes for the future. For both children and parents, I’ve seen the relief that this brings. As truly devastating and heartbreaking as it is, this is one gift we can offer them in a creative way nobody else can.”

          Also, the Smile Books Project writes books about courageous adults with terminal illnesses to share their leagues with their children as well as for organizations to spread the word about their work, when possible. “With any book we do, proceeds are donated back,” adds Curry Rathel. 

          Curry Rathel says that the Smile Books Project is always taking referrals. Currently, she’s in the process of starting a book for a little girl born with a rare disease and a little boy with a rare form of cancer. “Both of these children are under the age of 5 and have already gone through more than most people will their entire lives,” she says. “We can’t wait to share their stories with the world.”

          New books for sale are featured on the Smile Books Project website. There, you can view the project page to meet the inspiring children, adults, and organizations we have written books for and purchase a copy there.

          You can find the Smile Books Project on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. There are also blogs and stories about the books they write on their website, smilebooksproject.org. “After a long day and in the world today, there is something inspiring and hopeful about those we write about and we hope that anyone following the Smile Books Project feels hope just by reading along,” adds Curry Rathel.

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            With spending more time at home than ever before, you may be itching for a change. We chat with Montgomery-based Build Collective about the local housing market, and how not even a pandemic has slowed this one-stop-shop for buying, selling, and building.


            When it comes to real estate in the Greater Cincinnati area, whether you want to build or buy, Build Collective wants to be the team you turn to. 

            “Build Collective is a one-stop-shop real estate team,” explains Build Collective’s Marketing Manager Becky Mannix. “We are a full-service firm that assists buyers, sellers, and custom building clients with every step of the process.”

            At Build Collective, clients find a range of services that include listing sales, home buying, land and lot acquisition, market evaluation, architecture design consulting, builder selection, and everything in between. 

            The goal at Build Collective is to make the process of buying, building, or selling a home a lot easier than what you would find somewhere else. As one of the top sales groups in the Tri-State area, Build Collective and its team led by Mike and Bill Hines prides itself on the quality of services they provide. 

            The history of Build Collective dates back to 2011 when Mike and Bill Hines, former land developers, wanted to create a business that was designed to assist buyers build a custom home and acquire the best lots in town.

            “Our specialized construction and development experience, not to mention our more than 30 years of relationships with virtually every builder in Cincinnati, has uniquely qualified us to best help buyers build their dream home,” says Mannix. 

            In the midst of COVID-19, real estate has been deemed an essential business. Therefore, Build Collective has continued to work with clients on buying, building, and selling needs. 

            “Listings are still out there, so we’re available to help you buy or sell if you need to,” says Mannix. “We’re going to make sure we take care of you.”

            As they work with clients during these unprecedented times, the Build Collective team ensures that they are following all local, state, and federal guidelines. This includes limiting the number of open houses so that there is less traffic and movement in homes that people are still occupying and to reduce the number of people visiting homes that are newly constructed. Additionally, Build Collective has used their camera, Facebook Live videos, and even done walk-throughs on phones with clients so that they can have better visuals on the homes they’re interested in buying since they can go inside. 

            Of course, all situations are handled on a case-by-case basis, since no two situations are the same. “All decisions are made to help protect clients and the company, so if you have a question, please reach out to us so that we can make a decision and take the best plan of action,” says Mannix.

            Build Collective is located in the heart of Montgomery, and prides itself on their location to serve clients in top markets and areas that revolve around the I-71 corridor. 

            To learn more about Build Collective, visit buildcollective.com. You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram. Additionally, Build Collective is also heavily involved with Cincy Home Chic Home.

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              Let the stress melt away with a mini vaca like no other, just a short drive north to Granville, Ohio. See how two retired road warriors turned their knowledge of what makes an excellent excursion into one of the best bed and breakfasts in the world.

              Jeff and Bobbi Noe are the husband and wife team behind the Welsh Hills Inn, a place TripAdvisor and Select Registry says is one of the best bed and breakfast in the world. Yet, it’s just a short drive away to Granville, just outside of Columbus. 

              “There are over 5,600-square-feet of accommodation with wide plank, heart-of-pine floors, large guest rooms and suites, luxurious bedding, and spacious bathrooms,” says Bobbi. “antiques, oriental rugs, and an extensive collection of eclectic, original artwork adorn the Inn and guest rooms. Since opening the doors of The Inn in September 2010, we’ve been privileged to host guests from all 50 states and 27 countries around the globe.”

              The Noes say they were inspired to open the Welsh Hills Inn after they caught the “bug” of staying in small bed and breakfasts and inns while traveling throughout New England, more specifically Martha’s Vineyard and Maine. 

              “In the back of our minds we always thought ‘maybe someday,'” says Bobbi. “Well, when we were looking for a home in Granville back in 2007, an 18-month adventure to find just the right place, we were looking for a property where ‘someday’ we could open up a small inn. That someday came a little over three years later, in September 2010, when The Welsh Hills Inn opened its doors to our first guests.”

              The former road warriors had finally fulfilled their dream of opening an inn and haven’t looked back. They love having the opportunity to provide their guests with a relaxing getaway on a beautiful property. 

              According to Jeff, the best time to visit the Inn is from May through early fall, when guests can relax and enjoy the outdoor heated pool and courtyard garden. 

              “Our tagline is “Relaxation. Redefined.’ and that’s what we aim to offer — whatever your idea of relaxation is, we want to offer that to you in the absolute best way possible,” says Jeff. “Kick back in the Adirondacks and enjoy a roaring fire in the outdoor stone fireplace nestled next to the woods. Watch the sunrise in a rocking chair on our wrap-around porch. Explore the wooded hiking trails, stocked fishing pond, lighted clay bocce ball court, target range, and clay shooting. Have some quiet time reading in one of our shaded hammocks or take a dip in the pool.”

              They also offer on-site professional massage services with aromatherapy, tension relieving hot river stone therapy, Swedish relaxation, deep tissue massage, and reflexology in the Inn’s Trem Pell Studio Spa. There are several packages available through the Inn that include couples massages, a babymoon package, and even an intimate wedding package.

              There are many amenities available for guests at The Inn including spacious guest rooms, en suite bathrooms, a full gourmet breakfast, plenty of outdoor living options, and more.

              When asked what they enjoy the most about running Welsh Hills Inn, they said it’s their guests who make their business so great. “Hands down, the people that we have been privileged to meet over the course of the last 10-years who come from all walks of life,” says Jeff. “So many have become frequent, returning guests over that time and brought us heartfelt friendships. We’re now at the point where, many times when The Inn is full, it’s like having your friends and family come to stay. We get to be a small part of so many special times in our guest’s lives – anniversaries, birthdays, reunions, lifelong friends gathering together, intimate weddings, elopements, proposals, and so much more.”

              The Noes provided information on what they’re doing to ensure the safety of their guests staying at the Inn during COVID-19. You can find a list of COVID-19 updates for your getaway here

              The Welsh Hills Inn is located at 2133 Cambria Mill Road in Granville, Ohio. It’s approximately 30 minutes from downtown Columbus, Ohio State, and the John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

              To learn more about The Welsh Hills Inn or to book your stay, visit http://www.welshhillsinn.com/. You can also follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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                What happens when a local mom befriends a reality TV star with weekly phone calls? Listen in to find out, as these two strangers launch a new podcast while their friendship develops and hilarious life adventures unfold. Read on for more!

                How many times in your life have you wished you could be a fly on the wall? Listening in on secrets and conversations without actually partaking in the conversation? Thanks to the podcast Imperfect Strangers, you can do just that. 

                “Imperfect Strangers is a podcast where the listener is invited each week into a private phone conversation between two women, my co-host Melissa and me,” says Imperfect Strangers co-host Amanda Strong. “We are total and complete strangers. Each time we chat, we get to know one another a little better while the audience gets to know us both. It’s perfect for people who love to eavesdrop.”

                The story behind Imperfect Strangers goes back to November 2019 when Strong had her own podcast called Your Mom Has a Podcast. Most of her guests on the show were friends or friends of friends, but then along came Melissa, the first guest of Strong’s who she didn’t know or have a mutual connection to. 

                “I actually first ‘met’ Melissa with the rest of the world in 2000 when she appeared on the cast of The Real World New Orleans,” says Strong. “As the show was airing on MTV, I found Melissa’s blog online called Princess Melissa and began reading along with watching the show. Over the years I enjoyed Melissa’s sense of humor through reading her blog. Turns out, we were in the same seasons of life at the same time, serious boyfriends became husbands, wedding plans turned into trying to conceive, etc. Because I enjoyed Melissa’s transparency and humor about life, about her role as a wife and mother, I thought she’d be a great voice for Your Mom Has a Podcast.”

                The two connected and talked about similar issues and obstacles they were encountering, from making mom friends to dealing with social anxiety. After taking a step away from public life, Strong says she was surprised that Melissa agreed to be on her podcast.

                A redo turned into a weekly conversation and by the end of Your Mom Has a Podcast, the two knew that there was more to be had in their new friendship. Since then, they’ve gotten to know each other week by week through phone calls. Those conversations became a lot more in-depth as COVID-19 spread and stay-at-home orders were issued. 

                “Since December we have gotten to know one another week by week through these phone calls when in April, both navigating new roles as home schoolers, activity directors, camp counselors, and short-order cooks due to COVID, we found our voice,” says Strong. “The podcast wasn’t about motherhood, it was about total strangers creating a long-distance friendship and finding connection in the face of a pandemic. Each week we find ourselves marveling in our similarities but then also howling in laughter when we discover hilariously tragic differences of opinion.” 

                Aside from the roles they have in their podcast, Strong is a graphic designer, wife, and mother of three who lives in Cincinnati. Melissa is a stay-at-home mom of three and wife who lives on Long Island, and just so happens to have been on MTV’s Real World New Orleans.

                Strong is a self-proclaimed podcast junkie, but says that she’s never heard anything else in the podcast space like Imperfect Strangers. 

                “Melissa and I both appreciate candid and honest conversation,” she says. “We like a well-placed profanity. And with Melissa, she basically presented herself to the world with her personality in her 20s and used that experience to go on to host other TV shows including one with Chelsea Handler and tons of public speaking. Talking, storytelling has sort of been her thing, through her writing and locked social media, even after she shied away from the spotlight. We are unafraid to talk about most anything and do so in a way that is a safe space for us each to share our different perspectives without judgement.”

                Additionally, when each episode of the podcast goes up, Melissa stays up and posts to their Instagram Stories with a “live” interactive show that supplements what they talk about in the episode.

                “This includes blast from the past photos, pop cultural references, parenting tips – anything referenced in the episode,” says Strong. “So when you listen to an episode, you can plug into our Instagram account and catch the story live or watch it in our archive at a later date while you listen.” 

                Listeners, dubbed Strangers, are also invited to join in on the conversation during their Live Instagram Show.

                “Sometimes we just become background noise for them while they carry on together in the chat,” says Strong. “We’ve built this awesome community of new ‘friends’ and we’re all getting to know one another through the show. Melissa and I create and produce the show top to bottom together. So it’s been interesting to not only be getting to know someone on a personal level but also to be working with them too.” 

                Currently, Imperfect Strangers is halfway through its first season, which Strong says is a huge milestone in the podcasting world. Strong says she and Melissa have been talking about where they go next and are looking forward to seeing how they grow. 

                “As we look ahead there will definitely be exclusive content, both audio and visual, through Patreon,” says Strong. “A website is in the works as is a Strangers newsletter where subscribers get access to behind-the-scenes aspects of the show.”

                You can find Imperfect Strangers anywhere you listen to podcasts each Friday night at midnight Eastern Time. The show is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocketcast, Radio Public and Anchor.fm. They’re on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. To contact them, you can send an email to askimperfectstrangers@gmail.com.

                 

                The link in the bio on the Instagram account will send you to a place to sign up for their email blast, so that you can stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest with Imperfect Strangers.

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                  Live life, do good, and drink beer. That’s the idea behind Sharonville’s first craft brewery a group of friends teamed up to open after deciding life was too short to wait on their dreams. Keep reading to drink up the details.

                  Bonnie Collins runs “The Brewery Wife” behind-the-scenes page for Third Eye Brewing, Sharonville’s first craft brewery.

                  Tom Schaefer, Mark Buchy, Tim Tollins, Terry Krieg, and Tom Collins love making beer. They love it so much that they opened Sharonville’s first craft brewery, Third Eye Brewing

                  “We have been making beer and other hand-crafted beverages for friends and family for over 20 years,” says Krieg. “It is a labor of love that we want to share with you in a casual yet inspiring local setting where folks just want to chill and have a good time.”

                  The goal at Third Eye Brewing is to create a range of beers and other handcrafted beverages to meet a wide variety of tastes, even for non-beer drinkers. “This has been a dream for quite a while and life is too short to wait for ‘someday,’” says Krieg.

                  For founder Tom Collins and his wife Bonnie (who keeps a behind-the-scenes Facebook Page called The Brewery Wife), the “life is too short” sentiment is all too real. After recently losing their 14-year-old daughter Maya to a rare form of leukemia, they created the Live Like Maya Foundation in her honor. Third Eye Brewing Company is sponsoring the Live Like Maya Foundation with merchandise sold at the brewery and on the brewery website, as part of their “Live life, do good, and drink beer” mission.

                  At Third Eye Brewing, they are on a mission to help everyone open their “mind’s eye” to a world of new possibilities, one pint at a time. Third Eye Brewing is located in Sharonville’s Northern Lights District and features a large, open taproom with plenty of outdoor space including a covered patio that can be used all year long.

                  Krieg says the founders at Third Eye Brewing are adamant about trying new things, and the experimentations that go along with them. So, Krieg explains, the brews are just that: a variety of new things and experimentations. The newly opened brewery wants to land on recipes that will not only become popular brews, but they also want input from customers to determine what those permanent brews will be.

                  “We actually love the idea of creating our beers together with the community,” says Krieg. “We offer a wide range of styles from the latest trendy IPAs to more traditional, European-inspired lagers, ales, and even a few ciders. Our goal is to make sure everyone finds a favorite or two that they can call their own.”

                  Although the taproom is now open, Third Eye Brewing wants customers to take note of COVID-19 guidelines. “We ask that upon entry, you see our hostess to be seated,” says Krieg. “Once you are assigned a table, please stand in line in our floor stickers to place your order at the bar. Runners will bring your food to your table. You must be seated to eat and drink. All tables are 6 feet apart, all staff are wearing masks, and dogs are not permitted at this time. Your safety is our highest priority.” 

                  Third Eye Brewing is open Wednesday and Thursday from 4-10pm, Friday and Saturday from 12pm-11pm, and Sunday from 12-8pm. The kitchen closes one hour before the taproom. They are located at 11276 Chester Road in Sharonville. 

                  To learn more about Third Eye Brewing, visit https://thirdeyebrewingco.com. You can also check them out on Facebook and Instagram

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                    The Blue Manatee Literacy Project is sparking a joy for learning one book at a time. For our annual kid's issue, we chat with the new owner of this longtime local bookstore that recently rebranded. Learn about its "buy a book, give a book" mission encouraging literacy among our community’s most at-risk population.

                     

                    “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

                    The Blue Manatee Literacy Project is on a mission to light a spark inside children. “The Blue Manatee has always been more than just a bookstore,” says owner Amanda Kranias. “It creates a love of books and reading from an early age.”

                    Amanda Kranias

                    Blue Manatee wants to take the spark they light inside of children and give them the opportunity to experience the joy of reading. Not only is this the place to buy books, but it’s also a space that children will feel welcome for story time, to meet authors, and to buy gifts. 

                    The inspiration for Blue Manatee came from the desire to revive Independehtly-owned bookstores and create something for families to experience a world of ideas. “It is our goal to evolve and endure, and to grow stronger as we go,” she adds.

                     

                    The community team of educators, reading, early childhood experts, start-up veterans, physicians, and non-profit leaders behind Blue Manatee want to enhance childhood literacy among Cincinnati’s at-risk student population. “Through a reinvention of Oakley’s treasured Blue Manatee Bookstore as the front door to the mission we call ‘Curated Literacy,’ books and experiential learning will be purposely connected,” Kranias explains. “For decades, the Blue Manatee’s incredible sense of place has fostered young readers’ enthusiasm for literature, imagination, and expressive arts and formed familial bonds and routines that forever impact its patrons. Far too few children have the gift of this experience, and that’s why we aim to change that.” 

                    There are thousands of books at Blue Manatee, including books for expectant mothers, babies, teenagers, and everyone in between. There are also books for adults, as the bookstore prides itself on the board non-fiction section, foreign language titles, graphic novels, ecologically-themed books, folktales, and so much more. 

                    Also important to Blue Manatee is the experience that its customers have when they visit. “We strive to provide engaging events tailored to our local audience,” says Kranias. “We develop affordable, innovative programs hosted by passionate people, and continually improve them.” 

                    The goal at Blue Manatee is to be a fun destination for families, an active participant in the community, and a fun place to work. “We want to be a unique, inspiring place where kids will take their own children someday,” she adds.

                    Blue Manatee does good for the community as well. For every book that is purchased with them, a book is donated to a child in need. “Through every purchase, you are directly investing into literacy programs for communities all around the Cincinnati area,” adds Kranias. 

                    Currently, Blue Manatee is only open for curbside pickup. You can find more information on their opening and other service options at https://www.bluemanatee.org. You can stay socially connected — and check out their virtual story times and online events — on Facebook and Instagram

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                      One local wellness expert believes so deeply that self care is healthcare that she launched a spa and non-profit organization centered around the idea that when the mind, body, and soul are all at rest, the body can truly heal.

                      Crystal Grace believes that self care is healthcare. That’s why she opened Grace + Grit Spa, a spa with a purpose.

                      “At Grace + Grit Spa, we specialize in facials, massages, and waxing along with loving on those navigating the cancer journey,” she says.

                      Crystal Grace

                      At Grace + Grit Spa, there is an emphasized importance on incorporating self care into your lifestyle. “We love our sisters from all walks of life, and we also know the importance of keeping our men healthy, well-groomed, and relaxed,” says Grace. “That’s why we have several services that cater to our men’s skin and beards along with massages and healthy hands and feet.”

                      Grace knows that many are hesitant to practice self care because sometimes the prices can be unaffordable. That’s why she set out to offer affordable services, not something that is a luxury but a must-have. “Self care helps you to find peace and allows you to be in a place of gratitude,” she adds. “It is a must in the health of your skin, body, and soul. So don’t skip self care.”

                      Stress isn’t an uncommon feeling among most people anymore. In fact, Grace is well aware of the effects that stress can have on your health. “Seven years ago, I suffered from PTSD, depression, and anxiety brought on after finding a coworker dead in his home,” she says. “The diagnosis and subsequent medication led me to a career change and a desire to explore natural healing through self care.”

                      In addition to the spa, Grace launched a non-profit organization that offers spa services for those dealing with cancer. “Initially, I planned to offer spa services for one patient and their caregiver each month, but nine people submitted requests for the first session, so we took all nine,” she says. “We’re not going to cap God’s love.”

                      Currently these services are offered by a total of 10 spas in the Greater Cincinnati region, with the hope to have 15 by the end of the year. 

                      “We believe once a cancer diagnosis is given to a family, everyone in the family needs to stay as healthy as possible,” says Grace.

                      “When the mind, body, and soul is at rest, that’s when the body truly heals,” says Grace, “and we like to believe we provide that.”

                      Grace + Grit Spa will soon expand their offerings to include manicures and pedicures. Monthly memberships are already available to help ensure that you take your self care seriously and stay healthy, so that you can continue showing up as your best self.

                      Learn more about Grace + Grit Spa at https://www.graceandgritskin.com. You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram

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