Shopping local: Fat Brain Toys

Fat Brain Toys is a fabulous Omaha treasure, and if you haven’t been, you must go when you have some time. I always end up wishing I had more time (and money!) to spend there.

DSCN0295

Fat Brain has a retail store in the Village Pointe area and its main office based out of Elkhorn. It sells toys and books that are supposed to make your kids’ brains… well… fat! They tend to be simple, high-quality, and many are quite unique.

DSCN0293

There are ride-on toys, baby dolls, blocks, marble runs, puzzles, board games, pretend play items, books, science kits — basically great stuff for kids of any age. There are also many areas of the store where children (and adults) can give certain toys a trial run.

DSCN0292

You can shop online at fatbraintoys.com and opt to pick up your order in the store for free. The website is great because you can find toy recommendations based on age and interest and view customer reviews. They also provide a money-back guarantee. If your child doesn’t like the toy, take it back within 90 days and pick out something else or request a refund. I recently went to pick up a few gifts for my daughter and some children of friends, and the workers there were friendly and helpful, as usual. They even gift-wrapped my toys for free!

DSCN0294

So the next time you need to buy a child’s birthday gift or shop for the holidays, head over to Fat Brain Toys for selection and expertise that is superior to the big boxes.

Editor’s note: Fat Brain Toys does not know who I am and did not provide me with any compensation for this blog post. I just enjoy their store!

Advertisements

Shopping Local: Dragon’s Lair Comics (Guest Blog)

In case you didn’t hear, many local, independent comic book stores hosted Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 4. My husband, Tony, decided to go check it out and offered to write a guest blog about the store he visited, Dragon’s Lair Comics, located on 83rd and Blondo streets. Here’s his take:
 
————–
While working at my day job, I received an instant message from my wife that piqued my interest: “It’s Free Comic Book Day!”
 
I have never been one for comics, but I DO have daughters who love cartoons, one niece that loves Manga and two other nieces that love to use their imaginations in general. I also remembered that I needed a set of dice for a game I have been playing with friends.
 
Dragon’s Lair Comics has been a staple for comic book and gaming lovers in Omaha since 1975. They sport a fantastic and mind-boggling selection of comics at two locations. They also have anything you might need for gaming with friends and family.
Image
 
Image
 
The first thing I noticed when I walked in on Saturday was how busy it was. The store was clean, in order and hopping like crazy. A gentleman wearing a Superman T-shirt was at the front of the store, directing people and answering questions with professionalism. He pointed me to boxes of comics where one could grab up to 10 comics for free – 10! – as well as walls of comics where customers could pick up to 5. Finding comics my 4- and 2-year-olds would love was easy. I grabbed three more for my nieces.
 
ImageImage
Checking out was just as pleasant of an experience as speaking to the gentleman at the front door. I let them know I needed a set of dice, and they were prompt in producing a box full of options, clearly marked with pricing. Total spent: $4.12.
 
Whether you have kids interested in art and imagination, or you are looking for a fun game to play with friends and family, Dragon’s Lair Comics delivers. Help support another local independent business by checking them out. I’m glad I did!
————–
 
Editor’s Note: The author did not receive any compensation from Dragon’s Lair in exchange for this post. He just enjoys shopping there!

Shopping Local: Sakura Bana

When I was growing up and into my young adulthood, I honestly thought sushi sounded disgusting. Raw fish? Gross.

It wasn’t until we were out of town visiting some friends a couple of years ago that I decided to give sushi rolls a try, and I was hooked!

The search to find a great sushi restaurant in Omaha was on. And while we have tried a few places, there is one we come back to again and again: Sakura Bana, a Japanese restaurant tucked away in a strip mall south of West Dodge Road and 74th Street.

Image

Sakura Bana, courtesy of Yelp.com

Walk in and you will see the sushi bar, tables, and booths. The tea rooms in the back are great for some extra privacy or corralling children. There are also a number of flat-screen televisions hung throughout the restaurant for those who don’t want to miss the game while they eat. Right now, the restaurant is decorated with colorful paper cranes.

Image

Sakura Bana has consistently great sushi, and the entrees are excellent as well. FYI for Japanese food newbies: not all sushi is raw. There are lots of sushi rolls that include cooked fish or other seafood. Also, if you don’t want to try sushi, there are other great things to order, like their tempura or teriyaki dishes. My favorite starters are the miso soup and the salad with carrot ginger dressing. Some of our favorite sushi rolls are the Crunchy California Roll and the Paradise Roll. You can see their full menu here. We try something new every time we go and have not been disappointed. They also have excellent sushi happy hour specials, and they offer take-out.

Image

Delicious sushi rolls

Sakura Bana has now become our go-to place when we want to celebrate or are just craving some great sushi. In our opinion, their sushi is better than what you will find at some of the more expensive places around town. And as an added plus, it’s a local, independent business that we can support. Give it a try, and let me know what other sushi places you enjoy.

Editor’s note: Sakura Bana does not know who I am, and I did not receive any compensation from them for this post. I just love their food!

Shopping local: Indian Creek Nursery

The weather is finally starting to warm up, and I have been looking forward to planting flowers and sprucing up my yard. Luckily, I live near a local, independent nursery that provided a great selection of flowers, herbs, and veggies for my garden this year.

Image

Some of what’s going in my garden

Indian Creek Nursery on Saddle Creek Road, just north of Dodge street, is where my mom always shopped when I was young, and it’s now where I take my kids to pick out plants. I am a gardening novice and haven’t earned my green thumb yet, so I need help picking out the right supplies sometimes. The shop workers were friendly and happy to answer any questions I had about choosing the right plants, containers, and fertilizer.

Outside they have a sprawling garden center with greenhouses full of beautiful plants and hanging baskets. They also have trees, shrubs, and mulch.

Image

One of Indian Creek’s greenhouses

Inside, they have lots of seeds, bulbs, containers, accessories, fertilizer, and wonderful gifts. Stop by there this weekend and I’m sure they can help you pick out a beautiful Mother’s Day present for your mom’s garden. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to say hello to their long-haired cat, Captain, who acts like he owns the place (and probably does).

Image

Inside Indian Creek’s store

Image

A peek at Indian Creek’s pots and gifts

Be sure to shop local and independent as you work in your garden this spring. The quality and customer service are well worth it!

Editor’s note: Indian Creek Nursery does not know who I am, and I did not receive any compensation from them for this blog post. I just like to buy their rose bushes, tomato plants, etc. For more information on Omaha’s local, independent businesses, visit shoplocalomaha.com.

Shopping local: Blondo Nails

I’m really not a “do my nails” kind of person (not that there is anything wrong with getting your nails done), but I do enjoy a good pedicure every so often. My first pedicure was actually just a couple of years ago. (How sad is that?) But since then, I have gotten 3-4 pedis per year at a number of different places around Omaha. My favorite: Blondo Nails, on 120th and Blondo. Unfortunately, they don’t have their own website yet, but they have fabulous reviews across the web. This is the only nail place I have been to more than once.

Image

I had a family member invite to take me out for a pedicure since it’s supposed to be warming up outside, and warm weather usually means wearing sandals. (Of course, spring in Nebraska does not always mean it’s warm out.) I was happy to take her up on it. My toenails were in need of some attention:

Image

Toenails before

We went without an appointment on a weekday morning and were helped immediately. Customers can choose from a wide array of polish colors and relax in fancy massage chairs. In addition to the traditional pedicure, they also give a hot-stone leg massage. There are a number of men who work here, which is nice for variety. I’ve also seen a number of men in this salon getting their own pedicures or manicures.

Image

Awesome massage chairs

So there you have my favorite local nail salon. Check them out so you’re ready when the weather warms up! (It has to happen sometime, right?)

Image

Finished toenails

*Editor’s note: Blondo Nails does not know who I am, and I did not receive any compensation for this blog post. I just enjoy getting my nails done there. I did leave them a business card encouraging them to join ShopLocalOmaha!

Also, please excuse the quality of my photos. My phone is not “smart.”

Shopping local: Mama’s Pizza

Image

Mama’s Pizza has been a restaurant staple for my family for as long as I can remember. I grew up loving their bubbly crust, slightly browned cheese, and zesty pizza sauce. My parents would swing by their Saddle Creek location, which was close to our house, and pick up a couple pizzas for Friday Night Pizza Night. I would tag along with my dad, who would sometimes give me a few quarters for the arcade or buy me a pop at the bar while we waited for our pizza to be ready.

Now, I get to share my love for Mama’s with my own kids. Luckily, Mama’s on Saddle Creek is just a few minutes away from my current house. The red-orange shag carpet they had on the walls during my childhood is long gone (they have since remodeled), but they still have an arcade, bar, and plenty of TVs for sports fans.

Mama’s Midtown, courtesy of Intuit Business

The pizza is still just as delicious. Our little family of four can devour a medium pizza (even though both our kids are under the age of 5) so we recently upgraded to a large. We like the leftovers. Pepperoni and vegetarian (which has TONS of veggies on it) are our favorites. They also have great appetizers and other main courses if you’re craving something else.

Image

Mama’s Veggie pizza, courtesy of OmahaPizzaReview.com

Mama’s also has plenty of space for parties and large gatherings. If you live farther out west, they have a location at 156th and Pacific Street. (I have never been to that one, but I’m guessing it’s good, too.) If you haven’t tried it, you should. There are lots of great local pizza places that will make it worth your while to skip over the chains, and this is definitely one of them.

*Editor’s note: Mama’s Pizza is a member of ShopLocalOmaha, but otherwise they do not know who I am and I received no compensation from them to write this blog post. I just like their pizza, people. 🙂

(Also, please excuse my lack of original photos for this post. I forgot to take a picture of the pizza until it was half-eaten, and a half-eaten pizza does not look nearly as appetizing as a whole one!)