Northern Indiana may seem an unexpected destination for cold-pressed Spanish olive oils and 18-year-old Italian balsamic vinegars, but the owners of The Olive Branch are working to change that. At each of their boutiques, they line the shelves with extra-virgin olive oils from famous olive-producing regions, such as Italy, Tunisia, and California. They champion these first-press, extra-virgin oils for their reported health benefits, deeper dimensions of flavor, and ability to make any icy walkway that much more comical.
Besides the oils, they stock an international selection of balsamic vinegars, ranging from traditional varieties to blends infused with ingredients such as blackberries, dark chocolate, and pomegranate. The staff invites visitors to sample anything in the store, dispensing samples of both the oils and vinegars from stainless-steel fustis.
The Olive Branch's team members further expand guests' palates and kitchens with premium items such as Wind & Willow dessert and cheese-ball mixes and a selection of cruets and kitchenware. They can even compile these into gift baskets to celebrate special occasions such as holidays, birthdays, or the end of a Rocky film marathon.
Just Add H2O's diving experts have guided students of all levels of experience safely through waters for more than 34 years. Providing diving certifications through PADI and NAUI, instructors chart progression from introductory diving lessons all the way up to instructor certification, which comes with a license to ride giant seahorses. Just Add H2O's staff also hosts local and regional dives and leads trips to Lake Michigan shipwrecks, the cool depths of Gilboa Quarry, and tropical destinations such as Truk Lagoon in the Eastern Caroline Islands. To ensure that dives proceed without a hitch, the facility lets guests rent or purchase gear and can help to maintain used equipment.
A lifelong sewer, Jackie has been perfecting her teaching method for 24 years, hoping to pass on her passion for stitching to new craftsmen. Inside her boutique in Granger, she teaches classes to students aged 6 and up, careful to tailor lessons to each student's pace. Over the course of her eight-class series, she guides pupils' hands as they stitch together several finished projects, such as pillowcases, aprons, and eyeball warmers. Jackie's boutique also houses a plethora of fabrics and sewing necessities for students or learned sewers.
Juicy bites of chocolate-dunked fruit arrive on the doorsteps of family and friends, done up in colorful bouquets and candy boxes by the skilled fruit arrangers at Edible Arrangements' more than 1,100 franchises worldwide. The company's in-house chocolatiers drizzle albion strawberries and daisy pineapples with a trio of chocolate varieties. Once properly covered in chocolate, the preservative-free sweets are organized into lush arrangements that resemble flowers in bloom. Customers can opt to display their bouquets in a variety of vessels, including vases, mugs, and sports- or holiday-themed containers that add a personal touch to the edible gifts. Alternatively, customers can adorn gifts with the cheery red lids of candy boxes, nestling 12 chocolate-dipped morsels inside to build anticipation and determine if loved ones have x-ray vision by making them guess what’s inside.