Sophie

It’s easy to support a local shop in Joplin when it’s comparable to – or even better than – stores that you find in bigger cities.

 

For me, that shop is Sophie.

 

Located in downtown Joplin, Sophie is a women’s boutique that offers the latest trends in footwear, clothing, accessories, and gifts at affordable prices.

 

 

I became an instant fan of the store when Ashley Wakefield, freshly graduated from college, opened her original store in a strip mall back in 2007. Ashley’s innate fashion sense, combined with her business skills, launched her formula for success in the retail industry.

 

 

On any given day, I know I can walk up to the wall of shoes at Sophie and find a pair to take home with me, a pair of shoes that is fashionable, comfortable, and reasonably price from brands such as Madeline, Corkys, and Chinese Laundry.

 

 

Footwear has been the focus of Sophie since its inception because it’s so inclusive. We humans come in all shapes and builds, but our shoe sizes remain fairly standard. When Ashley opened her boutique, she wanted to offer merchandise that fit most people, most of the time, so that they could feel well-dressed and confident.

 

Her mission has been a success. I can personally attest to that. Every time I wear a pair of shoes that I bought at Sophie, I feel more put-together because I know that my footwear is a product of Ashley’s rigorous vetting process.

 

 

Over the years, Ashley has expanded her inventory to include clothing as well, such as graphic tees, dresses, tops, and premium denim – all at economical price points.

 

 

At first glance, it may appear that the contemporary clothing at Sophie is comparable to what you can find in the junior section of a department store, as far as sizing goes, but that’s not the case. You don’t have to be a size zero to shop at Sophie; sizes here run up to XL, which is similar to 1X in plus sizing.

 

 

Also, two of the affordable premium denim brands that Sophie carries, Articles of Society and Dear John, offer a more adult fit, which allows for those natural curves that most women (like those of us who are not runway models) have. These jeans run up to sizes 31/32, which roughly converts to standard sizes 12/14.

 

 

And, if you’re overwhelmed by all of the choices, the friendly staff members at Sophie will help put together some chic looks just for you, capped off by some of the accessories sold in the store, like jewelry from Shira Melody and local artisan Keona Elise.

 

 

Signature bracelet stacks and other wearables from Beljoy are very popular with Sophie’s customers.

 

 

Beljoy is a company founded by local jewelry designer Abby Clevenger, and its products are crafted by women in Haiti. By locating production in Haiti, Beljoy creates jobs in that impoverished country, and helps generate income for female artisans.

 

 

It comes as no surprise to me that Ashley supports other local entrepreneurs by selling their products in her store. Creating connections and empowering other local businesses adds to her formula for success.

 

So, too, does her online store. If you don’t get a chance to stop by the store in person, you can do so virtually by clicking here.

 

But if you have the time, head downtown and shop at the boutique that has received over 32,000 followers on its Facebook page. That’s a lot of fans. While you’re at the brick-and-mortar store, visit the clearance corner, pick out a Style Grab Bag to take home, then unwrap it like it’s Christmas morning.

 

No matter what surprise merchandise is inside, it will be fashionable. Guaranteed.

 

 

Because it was selected by Ashley, Joplin’s very own fashion guru.

 

Sophie is located at 531 South Main Street. Click here to view its website, and click here to follow it on Facebook page.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Ocean Adventures Indoor Playground

Who knew that diving into an ocean of 80,000 balls would be so fun?

 

My daughter did.

 

She’d been begging me for months to take her to Ocean Adventures Indoor Playground, aka “The Place with the Ball Pit.” Then, on one recent Sunday afternoon, we went, and discovered that her anticipation had been happily justified.

 

Ocean Adventures is an indoor immersive playground geared toward children ages 12 and under, although older kids can play, as long as they agree to the Safe Play Pledge. Adults are welcome to play, too. Just no roughhousing, okay?

 

Play sessions here last two hours, and you can choose from Low Tide (Tuesday-Thursday, $5 per session), or High Tide (Friday-Sunday, $6 per session). Since we were planning on going during the busier High Tide, I bought tickets online beforehand for my daughter and her friend in order to guarantee their spots, as there are a limited number available per session.

 

Limiting the number of participants helps make the chaos of an indoor children’s playground more manageable, as does having several staff members in the play area who ensure that everyone is abiding by the Safe Play Pledge. But the staff members aren’t there just to police the playground; they engage with the children and model fun – yet safe – behavior themselves.

 

Sometimes you’ll even catch a glimpse of owner Billy Garrigan in the playground. Billy is the former owner of All Aboard Ice Cream, where you can eat ice cream on a vintage train car, and kids can take rides on a mini train. While All Aboard is still operating under a new owner, it was Billy’s vision that made it a family-friendly destination, and he brings that same passion to Ocean Adventures, as well.

 

All ages are welcome in the main play area at Ocean Adventures. In addition to the massive ball pit, kids can crawl through tunnels, navigate obstacle courses,

 

see how many balls they can toss into the hoops on the walls,

 

and play peek-a-boo through the woven floor on the second story.

 

They can whirl down the spiral slide,

 

or “splash” directly into the ocean of balls from the short slides,

 

or the long (26-foot) slides.

 

If your little one has just started toddling and you feel like the main play area would be too overwhelming, then head on over to the Little Squirts play area, which is geared towards children ages 3 and under. There’s even padded seating around the Little Squirts area so that you can keep a close eye on your wee fishy.

 

 

For those of you leery of bringing your kid to a place where lots of kids – some sweaty, some sneezy – all share the same equipment, here’s some information that will ease your mind. Ocean Adventures closes for one hour between each session to clean play surfaces, and every week, all of the balls in the pit are sanitized in a commercial cleaning machine. Feel better?

 

But, wait. I sense you have another concern. With so much activity going on at Ocean Adventures, you’re wondering how you’ll be able to keep track of your little ones. There’s no need to worry, thanks to KidCheck which matches children with their parents. You can complete the information for KidCheck online before you go, or do so when you arrive. Identification information is then printed out and secured to your child’s wrist, and a copy of that information is given to you in a receipt form. When your session is over, a staff member will check to make sure your receipt matches your child’s bracelet before you leave.

 

You do need to remain on site with your child for the duration of your session, too. Save your solo Target run for another day. Instead, grab one of your friends and let your kids play while you and your friend have a (mostly) uninterrupted adult conversation in the viewing area, which is what my friend Julie and I did.

 

Of course, if you are a really cool parent, you can participate in Ocean Adventures play-together environment and jump into the ball pit right along with your child. Just remember to bring a pair of socks.

 

If you’re an even cooler parent, you’ll buy your kid a snack or beverage,

 

 

or even a refreshing shaved ice from the Surf Shack.

 

If you’re the coolest parent ever, you’ll leave Ocean Adventures with not only your child, but one of these adorable mermaids and other plush ocean creatures.

 

Or, you can leave with a free souvenir: a photo of you and your child taken in the Beachside Photo Booth. Here, an oversized Adirondack chair sits on Joplin Beach (who knew?), and makes for a fun tropical scene – in the middle of the Ozarks.

 

The photo booth is located next to the party rooms, and because there were a lot of people standing in that area, we never saw it on the day we visited.

 

 

In fact, I never even knew it existed until I saw some photos posted on Ocean Adventures’ Facebook page a few days later (and then, when I was putting this post together, I noticed the Adirondack chair in the corner of the photo I took of the Little Squirts area).

 

I guess we’ll have to go back.

 

And, next time, I’ll bring some socks so I can take a dip in the “ocean” with my daughter.

 

Do you want to book a birthday party at Ocean Adventures Indoor Playground? Click here.

 

Ocean Adventures Indoor Playground is located at 2630 S. Duquesne Road. Click here to visit its website.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Infuxn Kitchen and Cocktails

Infuxn.

 

Let’s start with the pronunciation of this odd little word, specifically the latter half.

 

It does not rhyme with suction; it rhymes with fusion.

 

Now, put it all together and say in-fusion.

 

Not only is that what the name sounds like, it also describes what goes on at Joplin’s ultra hip vodka bar and eatery called Infuxn Kitchen + Cocktails.

 

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This upscale lounge with its sleek decor, frozen drink rail at the bar, and vodka bank in the rear makes me feel like I’ve have been transported from southwest Missouri directly to a club in Vegas.

 

infuxn bank 2The vodka bank. Care to make a withdrawal?

 

In 2019, Infuxn expanded its lounge to include a full dinner menu, and swapped its low-profile tables for wooden dining tables so that its patrons could comfortably enjoy a night of cocktails and dinner all at one convenient location.

 

Naturally, I had to try it out, so my husband Travis and I went there recently on our date night.

 

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Infuxn sets itself apart from other local venues by focusing on the art of the cocktail. Many of the drinks here are actual infusions, which are defined in the dictionary as “drinks, remedies, or extracts prepared by soaking the leaves of a plant or herb in liquid.”

 

Yes, Infuxn has a remedy for whatever ails you.

 

The medicine man here is Daniel Valentine, the creative force behind Infuxn’s cocktail elixirs. He has crafted a menu of drinks that is anything but ordinary. Daniel even takes his art beyond the menu by concocting a daily drink special, plus he makes customized drinks based on his patrons’ requests.

 

The elixir that beckoned to me on our date night was the Lower Elevation, a refreshing citrus drink with a kick.

 

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It was made with some ingredients that I recognized: Espolon tequila, fresh lime and grapefuit juices, house sour, and muddled jalapeno; and some ingredients that I had to look up: El Bujo mezcal (a smokier relative of tequila), and habanero-infused St. Germain (an elderflower liquer).

 

Travis ordered the Last Summer.

 

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Made with Hendrick’s gin, lavender-ginger syrup, and fresh lemon juice, this cocktail is served over ice and topped with a Luxardo cherry, and it goes down easily, so pace yourself. Do yourself a favor and eat that decadent (and expensive) Luxardo cherry on top; fruity with a hint of amaretto, Luxardo cherries are the elegant cousins of the familiar Maraschino cherries.

 

We ordered the hummus of the week to nosh on while we sipped our cocktails (Risotto Rice Balls and Antipasto Rose Flatbread, I’ll see you on future visits).

 

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Our curry hummus was served with fresh celery, carrots, and either baked or fried naan (we chose the pillowy fried naan, which is lightly seasoned and highly addictive).

 

On a previous visit, when Infuxn only served appetizers and small plates, we’d ordered the Crab Stuffed Mushrooms. They are still on the menu, so I thought I’d include a photo of these generously stuffed, creamy and savory goodies for you.

 

infuxn crab

 

The dinner menu at Infuxn offers something for nearly everyone’s palate and dietary needs. For those seeking an upscale burger made from superior-quality beef, there’s The Infuxn Wagyu Burger; if eating plant-based is your thing, there’s the meatless Beyond Burger.

 

If you’re cutting carbs, try the Tuscan Chicken Mornay or the meaty and succulent Seared Strawberry Salmon, topped with balsamic vinegar and strawberry salsa, and served with asparagus, and your choice of two sides.

 

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Travis ordered the steamed vegetables and new potatoes as sides for his salmon (the Parmesan mash is a good low-carb substitute for the potatoes).

 

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Since we were at a vodka bar, I chose to go the traditional Russian cuisine route. I ordered the carb-loaded Homestyle Beef Stroganoff, a hearty (and insanely huge) dish filled with mushrooms, carrots, and tender beef in a rich sour cream sauce, and served over farfalle pasta.

 

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I also ordered a cup of Infuxn Borscht with my meal, because where else in Joplin can you find borscht on the menu?

 

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This traditional root vegetable soup, often found in Russian and Polish cuisine (although its origins are actually Ukranian), contains shredded beef and pork that is simmered in a tomato base.

 

Both the stroganoff and the borscht dishes at Infuxn are family recipes, and they reminded me of similar dishes that I ate growing up in a Polish household.

 

I’m excited that Infuxn is part of Joplin; it offers a one-of-a-kind experience in our city, making it a must-visit place for both tourists and locals.

 

Just make sure you practice saying the name before you go.

 

 

 

Infuxn Kitchen + Cocktails is located at 503 S. Main St. Click here to visit Infuxn’s Facebook page.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.