Kids can hit the bricks

And a local DIY-er offers inspiration

Decor inspo, right this way …
Instagram is a magical (digital) place. Where else can you quickly peruse pop culture memes, marvelous images of faraway lands and drool-worthy vignettes of perfectly decorated rooms without having to scroll past (or get stuck on) your crazy uncle’s latest political rant? Not a day goes by that I’m not logged in. You could say I’m Insta-obsessed. Last year, I took notice of an account that features a gorgeously appointed Fort Wayne home that had undergone extensive renovations by the owners themselves. The do-it-herself gal behind @carpendaughter is Whitney Utesch, and I simply had to meet her. She and her artist/musician husband Nate took their home down to the lath and rebuilt it to their taste while maintaining the charm of the original, with the help of Whitney’s father, a talented hobbyist woodworker. I love checking in with her account because one minute her dining room is a moody navy blue, but a light and airy ballet pink the next. She sources unique pieces at thrift stores (she has a regular rotation) which blend in with plenty of Target finds, which are then styled in unique, original ways. She’s managed to do some amazing things with her own hands and a small budget. Recently, Whitney has worked as a prop stylist for a catalog photo shoot and currently contributes posts to popular shelter blog Remodelaholic, where you can see her stunning, real-life before and after shots. While there’s no store for me to send you to, no available service of hers to suggest, I feel strongly about sharing Whitney and her fresh, modern taste with the rest of Fort Wayne. She’s a major talent and perhaps one day, she’ll have a business for me to write about. But if that day never comes, I’m just hoping to lure her to my house for a little freelance styling. Follow @carpendaughter on Instagram and get inspired!

Bricks 4 Kidz
As the mother of a 7-year-old boy who’s constantly taking apart old computers, constructing contraptions out of recycled materials and building with Legos, I’m forever on the lookout for ways to encourage his creativity and imagination, preferably outside the home. I ran across Bricks 4 Kidz and got so excited about their concept and approach, I immediately signed my boy up for classes. Husband and wife team Mark and Sandy Scovel, owners of the Fort Wayne franchise of Bricks 4 Kidz, provide a comprehensive slate of programming for children, all with a STEM focus (science, technology, engineering and math). From robotics and stop-motion classes to themed camps and arts and crafts activities such as mosaic Lego creations, Bricks 4 Kidz is a great way to enhance your child’s education through creative play and hands-on experience. Bricks 4 Kidz also offers after-school classes, custom birthday parties and workshops. The summer calendar is chock full of programming to keep your imaginative offspring mentally engaged. As the business grows, the Scovels hope to add even more special events and programs to their schedule, perhaps even a robotics class for parents. (Sign me up!) To learn more about Bricks 4 Kidz, visit bricks4kidz.com and type in your zip code to find Fort Wayne on the franchise map.

The Legendary Trainhoppers
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m about to sing the praises of a band that includes my big brother. Cool? OK. The Legendary Trainhoppers are a crew of talented local musicians that first came together 10 years ago from various other bands to form a kind of Fort Wayne super group. They opened for The Avett Brothers, played the inaugural Down the Line and countless other concerts around town and cut an album (“Ramble On,” 2006) in California before moving off in different directions (day jobs, married life, kids, you know how it goes). But as time passed, Matt Kelley, of One Lucky Guitar and The Good Ones fame, decided it was high time to get the band back together for another go ’round. I know I certainly wasn’t the only one who was over the moon at the news. The music of The Legendary Trainhoppers is lively, occasionally raucous and sometimes heartbreakingly sweet with its roots firmly planted in Americana and alt-country. The band is made up of multi-instrumentalists, singers and songwriters Chris Dodds (that’s my cool bro), Matt Kelley, Phil Potts and Dan Smyth, with Connor O’Shaughnessy on drums and Casey Stansifer on bass – all swell guys. They wrote and recorded their second album, “Family Tree,” over the last year, with a few release concerts right off the bat at The B Side and The Phoenix before returning to the Embassy stage at the 10th Down the Line concert this past February. Get your toes tapping by listening to both albums, now streaming on all the major digital services like iTunes and Spotify. Come see them in person with MARAH at The Brass Rail June 9 and you’ll even be able to pick up “Family Tree” on vinyl. The Legendary Trainhoppers will be announcing more live dates soon, so head on over to www.legendarytrainhoppers.com to stay in the know.

First appeared in the May 2016 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.

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