Upstate New York Guide | 24 Hours in Schoharie County

Upstate New York Guide | 24 Hours in Schoharie County

For the first installment in my Upstate New York Guide series I thought it was only right to start off with Schoharie County. While I wasn’t born in Schoharie, I did grow up there and it’s the only place that comes to mind when I hear the word “hometown”. I was even a senior survivor at good ol’ SCS, which my fellow alumni will know means I attended Schoharie Central School all the way from kindergarten to 12th grade. So it’s safe to say I know what I’m talking about when it comes to things going on in Schoharie.

If you’re from Schoharie, you’ve probably heard that there’s nothing to do in Schoharie a million times. Meanwhile, there are a lot of city transplants that try and make Schoharie into some sort of picturesque, artisan, small town dream. It’s true that we don’t have a mall or a Target within 30 minutes driving time. We also don’t have quaint coffee shops or bars that serve fancy mixed drinks. To be honest, Schoharie is a redneck town full of fun redneck things to do that I’d love to tell you about. Embracing that vibe is the key to truly enjoying Schoharie like a local. Here’s your guide to making the most of your 24 hours in Schoharie County.

Morning

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You’re going to need some fuel to start off your day and your best options for breakfast in Schoharie County come in the form of a diner. If you’re in the town of Schoharie you can pick from the Your Way Cafe or the Country Cafe. In Middleburgh I’d recommend M&J’s Cafe and in Cobleskill there’s nothing better than the Cobleskill Diner. Of course, if all else fails, you can never go wrong with the classic egg sandwich on a hard roll and Stewarts coffee combo. Breakfast from a gas station has never tasted so good.

A good start to my morning #morningjoe #stewarts #stewartscoffee

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After you’ve fueled up it’s time to work some of that breakfast off. Head over to Schoharie Valley Kayak Rentals (call to schedule your rental ahead of time) and enjoy a peaceful morning padding down the Schoharie Creek. If you’re really lucky you might catch a glimpse of some of the growing population of bald eagles that have been nesting along the creek. The nice part about renting kayaks is that you can arrange to have your rental picked up at the end of your trip so you don’t have to worry about having a truck to transport them.

Afternoon

Since you’re in Schoharie for lunch, try out El Taco Shack on Main Street in Schoharie. This restaurant recently opened and it’s become a literal bright spot on Schoharie’s otherwise bare main street. And when I say bright spot I mean it, you won’t be able to miss their bright teal and red storefront. They serve all sorts of Mexican food Moes-style and while I’ve only been once so far, I was pretty impressed. It’s really nice to see new businesses come into town and offer something different and I hope they’re able to succeed with this location.

After you’re full of delicious Mexican food, take a drive over to Vroman’s Nose just outside of the village of Middleburgh for a quick hike with amazing views of the valley. Vroman’s Nose is a classic attraction of Schoharie and every local has probably hiked it at least ten times and taken hundreds of Instagram-worthy pics perched on the edge of the overlook.

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The trail is basically straight uphill but it’s pretty short and totally worth it. Vroman’s Nose was created when a giant prehistoric glacier moved across New York and carved out the Schoharie Valley, leaving behind this nose shaped formation sticking out amidst the surrounding fields. At the top of the mountain you’ll find a giant flat slab called the dance floor with tons of carvings and initials from hikers over the years. Bonus points if you can find the oldest carving from the 1800’s or Ashley’s carved marriage proposal.

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After your hike it’s a requirement that you must experience the best ice cream Schoharie County has to offer: Amy’s Place. Amy’s is in Middleburgh and just a short drive from Vroman’s Nose so it’s an easy next stop. I’ve honestly been spoiled by Amy’s my whole life and have yet to find an ice cream place that compares in Central NY. But I do have a word of warning: you’re a fool if you order any size bigger than a small at Amy’s. Their smalls would probably be considered larges at other ice cream shops, but they’re not overpriced at Amy’s. If you order anything bigger, I promise you will end up with a ridiculous amount of ice cream. End of PSA.

when you order a "small" at Amy's😳

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For a refreshing afternoon beverage look no further than Main Street, Middleburgh and the Green Wolf Brewing Co. taproom. You can try out one of their own local microbrews or a variety of other ales, ciders and wines from around the Capital Region. The atmosphere is very cozy and the people working there are knowledgeable about the brews they offer. It’s not a huge well-known beer destination, but it’s a great little gem Schoharie has to offer.

Evening

As if you haven’t done enough eating during your day, it’s time for dinner and that means we’re heading over to the bustling metropolis of Schoharie county: Cobleskill. Coby has a Wal-Mart and a small SUNY college, which basically is the only thing that differentiates it from the other tiny towns that make up Schoharie county. They also have Justine’s, home of the best garlic bread I’ve ever had. Honestly, forget the pizza or pasta, I’d gladly go to Justine’s and have a plate of garlic bread all to myself. If the weather’s nice you can sit outside and enjoy your pasta or one of their truly gigantic salads and unwind for your final meal in Schoharie county.

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After a full day of outdoor activities, there’s no more perfect ending than catching a movie at Park Theater in Cobleskill. Watching a movie at Park is like being transported back in time. This classic venue has only one single screen, meaning you have only one single movie choice on Friday or Saturday nights. I still remember the excitement of lining up outside the theater before your showtime (7:30pm or 9pm are your only choices) and looking around to see who else was coming out to the movies that night. It was inevitable that you’d run into several classmates and at least one relative while you wanted for the doors to open. If you were going to the 9pm showing there was the added element of recognizing someone coming out of the 7:30 showing and calling them over to tell you if the movie was any good.

When I was growing up tickets were only $3, but I just checked the site and they’re $7 now. I guess that’s just the price of inflation, but it’s still a better deal than you’ll get at most movie theaters these days. There’s really nothing that screams Schoharie county to me more than a movie at Park Theater and I can’t imagine a better ending to your day.

So Schoharie might be small and rural, but to say there’s nothing to do there is certainly not true. In just 24 hours you can experience so many of the things that made up my childhood in Schoharie and hopefully you’ll leave with just as fond of memories.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first installment of my Upstate New York Guides series! Keep checking back for the next one.

Things To Do In Syracuse: July Edition

Things To Do In Syracuse: July Edition

Like I mentioned in my Summer Bucket List post, it’s so important to take advantage of the handful of months each year that the ground isn’t covered in snow here in Central New York. From festivals to concerts to community events, there’s no shortage of activities going on in the summer months in Syracuse. I spent some time scouring event calendars for the best events going on in Syracuse this month so you have no excuse not to get out there and enjoy the sunshine.

July 4th

Syracuse Chiefs Baseball game + Fireworks

If you’re looking for a place to watch fireworks for the 4th of July, the Chiefs are boasting the largest firework display in Onondaga county. Plus, what could be more American than watching a baseball game and eating a hot dog on the 4th of July?

July 7th

Salt City Comic Con

Before you write off this nerdy event, check out the guest list which includes actors from Super Troopers & Black Panther as well as several popular comic book artists. There are also the typical cosplay contests, vendors, food trucks and some fun offerings for kids.

July 6th

First Fridays at the Everson Museum

If you’ve been interested in checking out the Everson, try heading to a First Friday event! Listen to music and grab a drink from a local partner while you stroll the museum’s offerings. We recently visited the museum and it was a fun twist for date night.

July 8th

Wildflowers Armory Hand Lettering Workshop Brunch

This one I actually really want to try and go to! For $50 you get a 2 hour hand lettering lesson from a local artist, a tutorial packet, instructions for a take home project, and some brush pens to continue your creations at home. My handwriting is terrible and yet hand lettering has always been a dream of mine.

City Market Sundays at the Everson

If you miss the First Friday event, no worries because the second Sunday of every month is City Market Sunday. Check out unique vendors selling antiques, crafts, ceramics, furniture and more and enjoy free admission to the museum!

July 12th

St. Elias Middle Eastern Festival

If you’re an adventurous foodie, consider checking out this festival for a dose of authentic Middle Eastern culture and cuisine. Along with an expansive menu, there will be a market and traditional dance performances. The festival runs from the 12th to the 15th.

July 14th

Onondaga Cup & Lakefest

For the third year this regatta is returning to Onondaga Lake park. Check it out for a full day of races, fitness classes, music and delicious food vendors. I participated in the corporate challenge portion of this event last year and although our boat didn’t do too hot, it was still a great time in the park and on the water.

Empire Brewfest & Winefest

Beer and wine lovers alike will have a chance to sample beverages from all over the state at this event at the New York State Fairgrounds. In addition to sampling drinks there will be plenty of yard games, live music and food to enjoy during the event. I’ve done a wine event like this before and it was so fun to find new wineries and knowing they are local makes it even better!

July 15th

Weezer & the Pixies at Lakeview Amphitheater

Although I’m more of a country concert person, alternative rock fans will be excited about this duo coming to the amphitheater. Parking has been an issue for past concerts so I’d recommend getting there as early as possible to get a spot in the Orange lot closest to the entrance. Other than that the amphitheater is a gorgeous place to watch a show with an amazing view of the sunset over the lake.

 

July 17th

Chef Challenge Syracuse

If you’re a fan of the show Chopped this event is definitely for you. The Executive Chef and team at Sky Armory are challenged to make a four-course meal using ingredients from a mystery box provided by a local farm and a $55 ticket gets you a front row seat to the action. I think this fun event would make for such a unique and different date night activity.

July 19th

Syracuse Chiefs vs Louisville

Yes, this is the second baseball game on this list, but after checking out their promotions for July I think this is the best deal on the schedule. First of all it’s one of their Dollar Thursdays, which means $1 entry, $1 hot dogs & sodas and certain beers for $2, which is a great deal in and of itself. On top of that, the 19th is their Christmas in July promo, which means you get to enjoy a ton of Christmas cheer and a visit from Santa during the game. Finally, the first 2,000 fans in attendance will get a free ticket to the New York State Fair. I’d say all of that, plus a baseball game, is definitely worth the $1 admission price!

July 27th

Syracuse Arts & Crafts Festival

Running from the 27th to the 29th, 160 artists will take over Columbus Circle in Downtown Syracuse to show off their goods. In addition to the arts & crafts booths there will be live music, street performers, dancers and family activities available. This is the 48th year of the festival but I’m looking forward to checking it out for my first time!

Did I miss any cool events going on in Syracuse in July? Let me know so I can add it to the post!

4 Unique Off The Strip Vegas Experiences

4 Unique Off The Strip Vegas Experiences

Now, I don’t consider myself a travel blogger by any means, but I couldn’t help but write this post after my recent Las Vegas trip. My husband and I visited my little brother in Vegas for an extended Memorial Day Weekend and had such an amazing time. As a local, my brother isn’t a huge fan of the strip so while we did get a room there for our last night to do some exploring, most of my favorite activities we did were located off the strip. If gambling and major crowds aren’t your thing, check out these suggestions to make the most of your time in Sin City.

Red Rock Canyon

This is far and away my favorite thing we did in Vegas. Coming from Upstate New York, the landscape in Nevada is so radically different from anything I’ve ever seen before and Red Rock provided us with some amazing desert views.

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First we did a short 2-mile hike that started near the visitors center and looped around to a limestone ridge with a nice view. The weather was not too hot so the hike was pretty easy and it was amazing to walk around right in the middle of the desert with the mountains looming all around.

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After that we drove the scenic route around the park and stopped at a few areas for photos. I also wanted to check out another super short hiking trail to see some petroglyphs carved on the mountain and after a short detour (we got lost) we found the carvings. The trail to the petroglyphs is literally right next to the Willow Springs parking lot so don’t continue down the road like we did. The trail marker might be blocked by parked cars so be on the lookout for that.

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Even just driving around the park was amazing and I had my phone out snapping photos the whole time. If you’re from someplace that isn’t a desert, this is the perfect way to experience Nevada’s landscape. The entry fee for the park is $15 (or free if you’re with a military member, like I was) which is worth every penny.

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Hoover Dam

If you’re a history buff you’ll probably get the most out of the Hoover Dam, which was the largest dam in the world when it was completed in 1935. It’s pretty neat to walk around the dam and get some pictures of the surrounding mountains and the Colorado River, but I enjoyed the drive to the dam almost as much as the actual attraction.

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Instead of taking Route 515 through Boulder City to get to the dam, try taking the scenic route through Lake Mead National Recreation Area. You’ll have to pay a fee to drive this route, but it will be worth it to weave through the mountains and see some great views of the lakes nestled in between. Lake Las Vegas literally looks like a gorgeous desert oasis and if I had known about it earlier I would’ve loved to spend some time there. Next time!

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When you get to the dam you can pay $10 to go through some exhibits, watch a movie on the history of the dam, get a cheesy green screen pic taken (extra $ if you want to buy the pic) and go up to the overlook. I’d say this is not necessary unless you’re really into dam history or you’re trying to find some air conditioning.

7 Magic Mountains

The 7 Magic Mountains are an art installation I had heard about months before my trip and was super curious to visit. They’re located about 20 miles south of the strip and, again, the drive is half the fun of visiting this attraction. Are you sensing a theme here? I was obsessed with driving through the desert and checking out the landscape.

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The exhibition by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone was installed in 2016 and although it was originally a 2 year project, its popularity has led to a possible extension plan. Currently the extension plan hasn’t been completed, so if you definitely want to visit this attraction make sure you get there before the end of 2018.

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Although my travel companions didn’t really appreciate me dragging them out to the desert to see some colorful rocks, I thought it was worth it! Plus, this place is an Instagrammer’s dream, so make sure to wear a cute outfit and come with your phone battery charged.

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Fremont Street

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If you’re looking for the Vegas nightlife experience without the $20 cover fee, Fremont Street is for you. Most people know Fremont Street as the covered street with an overhead zipline and plenty of…unique street performers and while it’s fun to stroll around that area (known as the Fremont Street Experience), there are tons of unique bars farther down the street. Some of my favorites ones we checked out were:

  • The Container Park: This funky shopping center created out of huge shipping containers had a few cool bars and eateries along with live acoustic music on an outdoor stage. Definitely more of a chill vibe here.

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  • Downtown Cocktail Room: If you’re into unique, gourmet cocktails and a cozy lounge vibe, make sure to put this place on your list. The staff was super friendly and service was excellent here so don’t be afraid to ask them for more seating or drink suggestions. Plus I’m 99.9% sure I saw Lil Dicky here but was too embarrassed to talk to him.
  • Corduroy: This was my favorite bar we visited! From their perfectly lit selfie room in the back, to the delicious Moscow Mules on tap, to the early-2000’s pop punk music everyone was scream-singing along to, everything about this place was right up my alley.

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  • Gold Spike: Part club, part hotel, part adult playground, this place has almost everything. Admittedly, this was our last stop of the night so I didn’t get to fully experience everything Gold Spike has to offer. They have just about every lawn game you could ask for in the “backyard” area and a restaurant on site called Fiddlestix which is open 24 hrs so you can get your nachos fix at 3 am.

Hope this gave you some ideas for a Vegas experience a little different from the ordinary! Vegas ended up being one of my favorite trips I’ve ever taken, and I don’t consider myself much of a gambler or partier. If you’re looking for a trip packed with a lot of action, fun and gorgeous landscapes, consider giving Vegas a try.

Is Blue Apron REALLY Worth it?

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My husband and I actually like to cook and try new recipes regularly, so Blue Apron had always been interesting to us, but I was hesitant to pull the trigger. When a friend gave us a gift card for Christmas I was excited to try it out and pleasantly surprised by the service.

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My main point of skepticism was from reading reviews that claimed Blue Apron and other similar services would help save money. To be clear, if you’re cooking all of your meals at home already, a service like this won’t save you money. However, Blue Apron is a great lower-cost alternative if you’re eating out at restaurants several times a week. Thinking of it as an alternative to a restaurant rather than a normal home cooked meal really changed my perspective and gave me a much more positive outlook on these services.

Another thing I was worried about was shipping the food. I had visions of opening my box to rotten steaks and limp vegetables, but thankfully I was wrong. The boxes seem well insulated and the ice pack at the bottom was still frozen completely solid when the package was delivered. I’m still not sure how they managed that one. All the produce we got was fresh so in terms of food quality they get 5 stars from me. Plus the tiny pre-portioned “knick-knacks” were straight up adorable.

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Now, onto the recipes! For our first two weeks of meals we got three meals a week. On the website they have eight meal options which is great in case you don’t like some of the proteins offered (for example, I’m not a big fish fan). I would note that this is not the service for picky eaters, because almost all of the meals were a little adventurous. For me that was part of the fun of Blue Apron, but if you’re not willing to try new foods you might end up wasting your money.

Here are the recipes we got:

Saffron Risotto with Orange-Glazed Fennel

Spaghettini & Yellow Tomato Sauce with Roasted Red Peppers

Strip Steak & Potatoes with Spicy Maple Collard Greens

Spicy Fettuccine & Beef Bolognese with Zucchini

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Beef Medallions & Scallion Salsa Verde with Potatoes & Broccoli

Creamy Fusilli Bucati Pasta with Fried Rosemary & Walnuts

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All of the recipes we made came out great! I really thought that we would mess up one or one would be a complete flop (can you tell I’m a cynic?) but the recipe cards were easy to follow with lots of pictures and everything tasted good. I liked that the recipe cards were good quality too so we could keep them and recreate the recipes if we wanted.

Overall I really did like the service and I have a few main pros and cons I noticed after trying it out:

Pros:

Easy Meal Planning – No grocery list to write and no wondering what you’re going to make when you get home. I loved that this took the thinking out of meal planning and this is definitely my biggest pro of the service.

Try New Recipes/Ingredients – Like I mentioned, the recipes can get pretty adventurous, which was a big plus for me. Not only did we try different ingredients, we also learned some new cooking techniques. I had never made a risotto before but I was successful on my first try with Blue Apron!

Cheaper than eating out – I already covered this one, but I think it’s important. If you think of Blue Apron more like a special treat than a normal dinner it’s much more reasonable.

Cons:

More expensive than cooking at home – If you typically grocery shop and cook dinner at home, Blue Apron will probably be more than your usual budget. In that case you just have to weigh if the other pros are worth it.

No extra ingredients – When I’m normally grocery shopping I’ll plan to use an ingredient like rice or eggs several times throughout the week to help my budget stretch farther. With Blue Apron everything is perfectly portioned so you don’t have any extra ingredients left at the end of the meal. For me that’s a little annoying, especially when considering how much more expensive Blue Apron is than shopping at the grocery store.

No Leftovers – When Blue Apron says two servings, they mean two servings! I was a little surprised when I opened our box and found just one steak for the steak recipe. Was this really going to feed both of us? Each meal ended up being exactly two servings, no second helpings and no leftovers. We didn’t go hungry, but usually I like to cook bigger portions so we have leftovers for lunch. A pot of chili or batch of curry can feed us for a good 3-4 meals! Again, for the price it was disappointing to not have any leftovers.

Have you tried out any other meal services? Did you think it was worth it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or on Instagram @meganrosablogs

Syracuse Summer Bucket List

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Spring has FINALLY shown its face here in Central New York and with temps hitting 85 degrees today it kinda feels like we’re skipping spring completely and heading right into summer. This amazing weather has got me thinking about all of the fun things I want to take advantage of this summer. Today I thought I’d share my Syracuse Summer Bucket list of the perfect activities for those precious few months where there isn’t snow on the ground.

  1. Taste of Syracuse festival in Clinton Square – This festival always feels like the perfect kickoff to summer. What could be better than strolling through the sunshine with a wine slushie in hand and samples from the best restaurants Syracuse has to offer.
  2. Concerts at Lakeview Amphitheater – As of right now I only have tickets for Kenny Chesney this year, but I’m keeping an eye out for any other fun acts coming to this scenic venue.
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Zac Brown Band at Lakeview Amphitheater two years ago
  1. Dining al fresco – There are so many restaurants with great outdoor seating in Syracuse and I’m hoping to check out a few this summer. At the top of my list are Apizza Regionale, Kitty Hoynes and Rudy’s in Oswego.
  2. Spend the day in Skaneateles – I haven’t had a chance to explore this cute lake town yet so I’d love to spend a Sunday afternoon here. Let me know if you have suggestions of what I should check out!
  3. Do some hiking & camping – I’m hoping to take the pup to some new hiking spots like Clark’s Reservation this summer. I got a bunch of camping gear last year for my birthday and I’m determined to put it to good use at least once this summer.
  4. Find a good ice cream spot – Since moving to CNY I’ve yet to find an ice cream place that rivals my hometown favorite Amy’s Place in Middleburgh. The ultimate goal this summer would be to find a new go-to ice cream spot.
  5. Meet my parents at Empire Farm Brewery – Roughly halfway between Syracuse and my parent’s house in Schoharie, this would be the perfect spot to meet up and enjoy an afternoon beer tasting.

What do you think, did I hit all of the important summertime CNY activities? Let me know if there’s any I missed in the comments.

Etsy Shop Roundup

Etsy Shop Roundup

I’m one of those people who loves the idea of handmade things, but rarely has the time or skill to pull off the crafty visions in my head. But that’s where Etsy comes in! I love that I’m able to find one of a kind pieces that support talented artists at the same time. Here are just a few of the shops on my radar that I’ve been loving lately.

Oh How Neat Shop: This shop is full of adorable decor, but if you’re a fellow muderino you’ll especially love the keychains and prints.  I recently ordered the “Lock Your Fucking Doors” keychain and it’s equal parts hilarious and functional. Definitely worth the weird looks you’ll get when people actually realize what’s written on your cute pink keychain. Plus it’s a great reminder every time you leave your house to stay sexy and don’t get murdered!

Dixie Creative: This shop really speaks to the throwback country music lover in me. Aaron got me the 90’s Country Music Men tee for Christmas (after my subtle suggestion of sending him the direct link) and it was perfect for the recent Alan Jackson concert I went to at the Times Union Center in Albany.

Sweaty Girl Glam: I found this shop while looking for some new yoga tops and I have to say I think I hit the jackpot. I haven’t ordered yet but I have my eye on a few and even if you’re not a yoga lover, this shop has tanks and shirts for just about every workout trend out there, from Crossfit to kickboxing.

Chic Monogram: This shop is definitely your one-stop shop for anything you could ever want monogramed. It has everything from desk supplies to wine glass koozies, but I’m especially drawn to their car accessories. They can get a little pricey, but I’d love to one day deck my car out top to bottom with some of their floral, monogrammed goodness.

Country Girl Glam Co: If you learn one thing from this post, you’ll learn that I love a good graphic tee with a cute phrase and these country themed tanks are right up my alley. BRB while I forward this shop to Aaron for birthday present ideas

Got any unique Etsy shops I need to check out? Throw them in the comments below so I can find some new favorites.