The Ruins of Us, Christmas Shopping and Columbia Independent School

by Keija ParssinenYou might wonder how the The Ruins of Us by local author Keija Parssinen, Christmas shopping and Columbia Independent School connect?  The answer is brilliant and simple!  Barnes and Nobles has provided readers in Columbia with a chance to meet Keija Parssinen while attending a reading of her novel, The Ruins of Us. In addition to this fabulous opportunity, Barnes and Nobles is donating a portion of the proceeds from sales made during the event to the school of Keija’s choice, Columbia Independent School.  To help support the school, stop by the table to meet Keija and receive a voucher that tells the cashier to donate a portion of your purchase to the school.

This event is a wonderful opportunity to meet a local author, published by HarperCollins and shop for those avid or budding readers on your list.  The perk? Your purchases help support an institution on our community.  What could be better than meeting a talented, best-selling author and enjoying a reading from The Ruins of Us, all while supporting an educational institution while Christmas shopping?

Join us on Sunday, December 9, 2012 from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. at Barnes and Nobles in the Columbia Mall. The reading will take place at 5 p.m. We hope to see you there.

CoMo Family Kids: Library Book Sale

What will you find?

If you missed the annual children’s book sale at the library today, have no fear, there’s still tomorrow!  The Daniel Boone Regional Library host an annual book sale that focuses on children’s literature and raises money for the library.  Inside the sale are fabulous and frugal finds.  With hardbacks selling for .50 cents a book and paperbacks for .25 cents a book, families can stock up and save!

If you have busy little readers – like I do – this sale is perfect for your family.  Each year my children are set free to explore the piles of books available for purchase, enabling me to teach them money saving techniques, money management – they each have a pre-set limit- and best of all, instills a love and excitement of reading.  If you have children and missed the opening day of the sale, you can still head out tomorrow and browse the many available titles left on the shelves.

The book sale will continue on Sunday, October 14, from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.  If you don’t have children or you simply want to help children in Boone County, consider attending the sale and donating your purchase to one of the many elementary school libraries or organizations such as Granny’s House or Rainbow House.  It’s just one way you can make a difference in the life of a child or give back to our community.  Happy Shopping!

Vintage Clothing Shopping

During spring break I headed downtown with one purpose: To find a dress for the Museum of Art and Archaelogy’s Paintbrush Ball. My friend Karyn came along to zip and unzip.

We started at Absolute Vintage, located at 923 E. Broadway, the smallest of the three shops that we would visit. It’s all vintage, just as the sign states.  It’s a small shop, so we were able to look through everything.  We found some interesting dresses, including weird see-through and even weirder apron ones.  Those must have been short fads. 

At Absolute Vintage, everything is displayed nicely and easy to browse through, with all the full-length frocks hung way up high.  There was one that I liked, but it looked a little big.  There were no sizes to be seen, so we were guessing from the ground below.  We moved on without trying anything on.

Our second stop was Maude Vintage at 818 E. Broadway.  This shop has items for sale and items for rent.  I had intended to buy, but decided that renting would be a good option also.  I wanted something unusual, and there are only so many occasions to wear an odd full-length dress in Columbia.

There is a lot more inventory at Maude, but the shopping was a little easier.  Once again, the fancy stuff was up high, but at this shop they were all marked with sizes and/or waist measurements.  No need to try on the simple black ballgown because the waist was two inches too small for me.  After choosing a couple, the owner took us downstairs and showed us some rentals that she thought would work.  She was spot-on for size; I think that she’s been doing this for a while.

I tried on four dresses, from a giant red ballgown to a little brown velvet dress.  The velvet was my favorite, but a little too short for my super-long arms.  Knowing that it would have to be altered, we left it at the store, keeping it as a last resort.  Maude’s Vintage has a ton of inventory, but the help was excellent and it was easy to find what we were looking for.  Karyn bought a couple of rings and we moved on.

Our final stop was Leo’s Old Clothes, located at 9 N. 9th Street, above Dryer’s Shoes.  It was a little dark up there, and more than a little dusty, but we didn’t care because we had found a bounty.  There were racks and racks of evening gowns of all types.  Nothing was organized by size, but the clerk was working on that while we were shopping.  It’s not an easy job because sizing has changed over the years; give Leo’s some time to get everything organized nicely.

A few scarves at Leo's.

Karyn and I found at least a dozen dresses that were possibilities.  Like we found in the other stores, the clerk was extremely nice and helpful.  Since our shopping trip, I have heard some negative comments on Leo’s which I’ll address: Yes, it’s dusty, but both Karyn and I have actual dust allergies, and we were fine.  No, it doesn’t smell like cat poop at all, although I did see a cat.  No, the clothes do not smell musty. 

The winner, a superstar dress.

The winning dress turned out to be a rental, so for twenty dollars, I’ll look fabulous at the ball.  The fit is perfect, even long enough to cover comfortable dancing shoes.  The runner-up was hard to pass up though.  Someone sewed a bunch of peacock feathers on a blue dress and called it a day.

And the runner-up, Miss Peacock.

We enjoyed shopping at all the stores, but Leo’s was our favorite.  The prices are great and the selection is amazing.  I have plans to check out the more casual clothing when I pick up my fabulous rental for the ball.

Fresh CoMo Meat: Books before Facebook

Fresh CoMo Meat: Books before Facebook

Until the last month of living in Decorah, there were no bookstores within an hour drive that were worthy. The TEAM’s arrival in CoMo has seen a host of bookstores that carry, GASP! used books. Living in a college town, one would expect a rash of crappy academic, dry textbooks with those dreadful orange and yellow “used” stickers on the binding. The local bookshops have a really great selection for all readers. It makes sense when your local economy is built around education i.e. College Town USA. Note to readers, I’m in the minority on THE TEAM in terms of fiction reads. Not sure why, but there are few and far between of the fictional variety that hold my interest. Most that do are based on historical events. Recommend all you want, I’ll gladly accept them but in all likelihood I’ll skip it for revolutionary history and struggle or Marxist theory. Seriously though, send them my way, I need it.

The first place I went to was The Peace Nook. This was place had been heavily promoted by a St. Looie native friend of ours in Iowa. Not only do they carry an incredible selection of titles under the broad tent of “social justice” but also they carry books from important radical book publishing houses like Haymarket Books and many more. It has all the characteristics of things I miss about real, independent bookstores. There are lots of staff picks (with hand written signs), book clubs, discounts, and above all a warm and welcoming staff. Bonuses are that it’s a non-profit, has a bunch of shirts and stickers that will offend rich people, and serves as meeting space for organizing. It’s in a basement and cramped but given the fact that a place like Peace Nook exists in this town, makes it worth supporting. It also serves a great place to make those conservative family members that are visiting feel a wee-bit awkward.

On one of many of the walks that the Dude and I go one, we stumbled into Get Lost Books on 9th. Not a stroller friendly store but pleasant and very woody inside. This place carries the canonicals of American literature as well as cookbooks, literary criticism, art, children’s books, news and art magazines and literary journals. It’s mostly used but they don’t appear to be killing it at estate sales. The staff were quite accommodating for newbies like the Dude and I to the store. They also host a monthly reading by a local and national authors complete with music. I’ve not been able to make it out to one of these yet but judging by the quality of the people that I’ve met who attend them, they sound like fun. That’s a lost art in my opinion. When authors or speakers would go on speaking tours to talk about their latest work. It happens mostly on campus’ now and for those working folks who aren’t totally acclimated with the mazes of massive college campuses, it poses a problem. Having events like these in places like Get Lost is great and should be celebrated.

Village Books on Paris road, while out of the way from downtown, is also quite promising. They offer 25% off on cover prices for new books and used books are half off cover prices. Admission of guilt: I have not been able to fully explore and give a detailed report of this bookstore but the fact that it is independent, doesn’t have a rip-off non-union coffee shop in it, and carries used books it deserves to be promoted.

Books, the one’s printed on paper, are not dying a slow death. Remember, servers can crash, Wifi signals can get cut (because there are cables that supply the signal!), and there is a digital divide. For those that aren’t familiar with the term, the Digital Divide is the gap between those that have access to the internet versus those that do not. It could be a multitude of reasons: geography, lack of income, lack of computer skills, etc. It amazes me that we live in the wealthiest nation in the history of the planet, with the fictionalized tale that it’s also the greatest democracy, yet high speed access to the greatest educational tool is not a right.

One final note: History is being made by the Occupy Wall Street Protests. They need your support and you can do it by visiting and offering solidarity with the handful of folks at Occupy Como. Yes, it’s here too. 

CoMo Events: Farmers and Artisans Market

There is a new market in town that serves more than one purpose. It’s the new Farmers and Artisans Market in the North Village Arts District. Such a great concept for Columbia! The community loves its artists and farmers and really care about buying locally. It is on Sundays until November 13th and goes from 9am to 2pm.

I’ve gone the past two weeks and it almost doubled in size over that time! I think there is a great mix of farm stands with awesome looking produce, and art booths with wonderful handmade items. And I appreciate that it is on Sunday and not Saturday. Saturdays are usually busier and makes it harder to get to the farmers market. It’s nice to have a choice now!

While I was there I had to pick up some new potatoes from the community garden, a bar of handmade soap, and an adorable little handmade pot. Next time I will plan my grocery shopping better so I can pick up some more fresh produce. The art is an added little bonus to the trip! It will be great to pick out handmade gifts for upcoming birthdays and holidays.

You should definitely stop by and check out the new Farmers and Artisans Market. It is located at the Wabash Bus Station at 126 North 10th Street. Just grab a smoothie or coffee up the street at Kaldi’s or Main Squeeze and do some shopping! Visit for more information.

CoMo Event: with heart handmade market

This Saturday is the first ever with heart handmade market in downtown Columbia. This is an event you won’t want to miss! There is quite a line-up of talented vendors and I want to introduce you them.

Pale Horse Studios




c. jane create    


Along for the Ride    


the shirt off his back     


Adore by Leslie    






Little Bird’s Stolen Press 


Curley Fish Crafts  


brittney’s buttons  


Mama Roots   


whimsy vintage 


Just a short introduction – I want you to visit and meet everyone in person. Everyone will be out there rain or shine – so make sure you stop by and get yourself some goodies! Think about upcoming birthdays or other things you might need gifts for! 🙂

Yes, that’s me {c. jane create} up there… I’m participating, too!

The market is at 9th Street and Elm near Shakespeare’s from 9am to noon. Hope to see you there – if you visit, make sure to tell me that you read my CoMo Collective post, I might have a special deal for you!


CoMo Etsian: Mama Roots

Chris, the woman and mother behind Mama Roots, makes toys based on a Waldorf inspired tradition of toymaking. I got to meet her at her lovely home where she showed me the entire process behind her toys, and it fascinated me!

First, Chris draws out what she wants the toy to look like. Then she’ll trace it onto her wood.

She gets a lot of her character ideas from childen’s books. Chris is the book buyer for the University Bookstore, but she originally started making toys when her oldest son was young. She didn’t want her house filled with a bunch of plastic toys, so she opted to make some toys for him.

She uses long wooden boards and cuts out as many shapes as she can. Chris uses the scraps as firewood, so none is wasted. Her primary tool is a scroll saw that she houses in the unfinished part of her basement.

Then, Chris uses an electric dremel sander to smooth all the edges of the toy.

She moves over to another part of her basement to add the details to the toys. Chris follows behind the dremel with a ton of hand-sanding to make sure everything is completely smooth since it will be used by children.

Chris uses an industrial wood burning pen to hand-draw on all the details of the character. They usually don’t get mouths, smiles or frowns, due to the Waldorf traditions. The idea is that children will more easily project their own feelings onto the toy while playing with it if it doesn’t have a predetermined emotion.

Then she’ll hand paints each toy with a non-toxic water color paint. Each toy, and piece of wood, takes the paint differently and can sometimes create a nice pattern.

Each toy is finished and sealed with a beeswax. It is also non-toxic and safe for children to chew on.

Here are some of her finished toys!

As soon as we moved over to the art area, her boys each pulled up a chair and dove right into the paints. I loved it!

I fell in love with Chris’ toys while I was at her house! I actually emailed her a few days later and ordered a couple! One is a gift for a little boy – it will be larger so he can chew on it, and one I’m keeping for myself. It’s the Rebuilding Bluebird and the profits go to the Joplin relief efforts. Not to mention… it’s really cute!

I wish I could have had a bunch of these growing up! How fun would it be to act out your favorite story book with some adorable wooden toys!

In addition to her etsy shop, Chris also has a blog and facebook page, so make sure you stop by and visit her there, too!

CoMo Shopping : Tallulah’s

When Columbia, Missouri’s PS Gallery moved to the North Village, it was hard to imagine something else going into the space. Not only were the windows a mainstay of Broadway but the architectural elements seemed almost impossible to work around. But Talullah’s has taken the space and made it their own. It still has an artistic feel to it but instead of paintings, high end kitchen products are displayed like art.

I’ve heard some complaints for local foodie friends that the store is more frou-frou housewife than an outlet for cooks. And though they are right that they don’t have as many tools as I would like, I see a real effort to carry items that appeal to serious cooks. Sure they don’t have several different kinds of coffee presses, but they do carry one. And more gadgets than I ever dreamed of.

Beyond that debate, that have curated a selection of unique products that appeals to a wide audience. I challenge you to go in and gift shop without not finding something the recipient is going to like. For me the aprons and tableclothes as well as the Modern Twist line stood out. And I was happy to see a few gourmet snacks at the register. Since I visited they have start carrying St. Louis favorite Mom’s Originals pretzels so be sure to stop in for one.


As the ever shifting Broadway retail scene proves, it can be tough to make it as a local business in Columbia, Missouri. But Tallulah’s is making a strong start. Be sure to stop in to check them out for yourself. They are open Monday through Thursday and Saturday from 10:00am to 6:00pm. They stay open later until 8:00pm on Friday night for date night shoppers. And they are usually open on Sunday from 12:00pm to 4:00pm. They don’t have a website yet but you can visit them on their Facebook page.  They offer free gift wrap, bridal registries, and will host special events like bridal showers.


Talullah’s 812 E. Broadway Columbia, Missouri 65201 573.442.9550

CoMo Shopping : Cool Missouri Product – Bon Ami Cleaning Cake

In case you weren’t aware, Bon Ami the makers of super effective green cleaners are a Missouri company, based in Kansas City. They were making natural cleansers before it was hip. In fact they’ve been in business since the 1880s. To celebrate their history and recent revival in the marketplace, they recently rereleased an classic product: the cleansing cake.

Green Cleaning Cake Bon Ami

Based on the original 1886 products, the Cleaning Cake is a household workhorse. You can clean old glass windows, tile, stainless steel, mirrors, and pots and pans (to a high shine!) But it only has two ingredients: tallow soap and feldspar. Which are completely biodegradable. I love that I dont’ have to worry about it around my kids. I just didn’t mention the cake moniker. Because if I had, they would so try to eat it. To use it you just rub a damp cloth over the surface of the cake, then use the paste created to clean. After cleaning, rinse thoroughly or wipe dry with a second cloth.


Unfortunately the cake isn’t sold in any local stores (you can only get it on the new shopping site Alice.) But you can get other Bon Ami products including their classic powdered cleanser (cheaper and more effective than Comet) at local grocery stores. or you can win a set, including the cake, on my personal blog The Guavalicious Life.


Disclosure: Bon Ami sent me the cleaning cake. They didn’t ask me to write about it and thoughts in this post are my own.


CoMo Event: Art in the Park

{photo courtesy: a hasty life}

Art in the Park has already happened, it was last weekend. I had never been before and wasn’t sure to tell you all, so I’m going to give you a heads-up for next year. It is hosted by the Columbia Art League and takes place at Stephen’s Lake Park.

There were so many fabulous artists there. Painters, wood-workers, jewelry makers, sculptors… everything was outstanding. It’s a juried show, meaning that the artists have to apply to be in the show.

I think my favorite part is that you are able to talk to the artists about how they created their things – I think it adds to the handmade experience.

I even ran into our friend Joe from Twinwood Carving! His bowls are just stunning.

I actually volunteered on Saturday in the children’s tent – it was SO much fun! There were four free crafts for the kids to do, a t-shirt tie-dye station that cost $10, and a young collector’s tent where each piece of art was $5. And of course, since it was 95 degrees, a lot of people took advantage of the splash park and lake. There were also yummy concessions to fill your belly with.

So I know that you can’t take part this year, but make sure you plan on attending next year!