With spring spurting up from the ground like a hoard of ill-intentioned gophers and summer a menacing shadow on the horizon, numerous occasions will soon need judicious tackling. Warm weather brings with it birthdays, housewarmings, band camp, and heat exhaustion—all events best met with flowers and balloons. Choose from contemporary abstract stacks of sunflowers that terminate in a delicate lily or traditional rose- and carnation-laden arrangements. European hand-tied bouquets, ideal for over-the-shoulder tossing and subsequent ultraviolent manhandling at your next garden tea party, start at $25. Small arrangements also start at $25, while medium floral mélanges start at $40, and large blossom bursts go for $65 and up. Latex balloons are $1.99 each, whereas the shiny, decorated Mylar variety are $3.99.
Since 1983, families have spent their holidays around the television, watching A Christmas Story and joining in the triumphs and failures of 9-year-old Ralphie as he struggles to secure a Red Ryder BB gun from Santa's bag. But although the cult-classic film showed Ralphie living in Indiana, the house in which the movie took place rests in Cleveland—and is now a museum. When MSNBC interviewed lifelong fan and A Christmas Story House & Museum owner Brian Jones, they profiled the story of how he found the house on eBay and jumped at the chance to own it. Today, he’s turned it into a year-round place of pilgrimage for fans and the site of an occasionally-held convention for Ralphies.
Jones’s restoration has returned rooms to exactly how they were in the film, letting guests gaze at the tinsel-strewn tree with its star falling off and explore the bathroom where Ralphie’s mouth was washed out with soap—a time-tested method for cavity prevention. Visitors can even attempt to hide like little Randy in the cabinet under the sink. After stopping by the BB-gun range in the backyard to practice their aim, fans head across the street to the A Christmas Story House & Museum. Here, original props such as the toys from the Higbee’s department-store window, Randy’s snowsuit, and Miss Shields’s classroom chalkboard join other memorabilia and hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos. Before leaving, guests drop into the gift shop to pick up a leg lamp just like the one Ralphie's old man cherished so dearly.
As head coach of Two Ravens Fencing School, fencing veteran Brian Stone honors the sport’s centuries-old traditions by training new generations to wield blades using both their bodies and their minds. Inside his spacious classroom—in fact a refurbished warehouse, exposed bricks and all—students learn to attack and parry under Stone's expert guidance. A former First-Team All-American at Notre Dame, Stone has coached several fencers who have competed in both national events and tournaments in Europe, where every baby is born with an épée in its hand.
Haul-My-Mess.com owner Ron McCully dispatches crews of strong, careful movers to help clients transport their belongings without stress or physical pain. Workers pull up to homes and businesses in large, 16-foot box trucks, eager to follow special orders, such as to haul away the sofa without waking the no-good roommate who’s sleeping on it. In addition to facilitating easy moves, Haul-My-Mess offers junk-removal services focused on reducing landfill waste by delivering reusable goods to local donation and recycling centers.
For more than 60 years, Bloom Bros. Supply has helped patrons tackle a slew of refurbishment projects with its expansive inventory of home-improvement supplies. For a better salsa-dance partner, fixer-uppers can utilize the inventory of power tools ($21+) and nails ($2+/lb.) to attach wooden limbs to a new broom or mop ($5–$15). Customers can treat thirsty friends to a half-full glass of water from a brand-new faucet ($12+) and thirsty enemies to a painting of a faucet brushed onto a wall with the store’s large collection of paints ($11+/gal.). The knowledgeable staff at Bloom Bros. Supply can also repair windows and screens, custom fit pipes, and re-key locks.