A Short Trip to Amish Country – Holmes County, Ohio

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Last week, my daughter and I had a chance to re-visit one of our favorite vacation destinations – Holmes County Amish Country (Ohio).  We’ve been visiting this area for 17 years and always stay in a cottage situated on a Mennonite farm.

MelMary_Oriole03Although the cottage looks rustic, it’s very comfortable with two bedrooms and an equipped kitchen.  My favorite spot is on the porch with a good book in my hand and surrounded by the most gorgeous scenery.  I count it among the three most beautiful places I’ve ever visited along with Vermont and Switzerland.

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There are lots of cornfields ….

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and lots of horses …

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and lots of cattle.

MelMar_cattle03A short drive away are small towns with shopping (good quilt shops) and restaurants.  We especially like Troyer’s Market in Millersburg.  Their homemade ice cream is amazing.

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Of course, the most interesting and charming sights are the Amish people going about their daily chores on their perfect farms and traveling in their black horse-drawn buggies.  I respect their wish that they not be photographed.

For a peaceful, quiet place to stay, we highly recommend Mel and Mary’s in Baltic, Ohio, and the nearby shopping in Charm, Walnut Creek, Millersburg and Sugar Creek.  I hope we get to go back again next year.

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Mel and Mary’s Cottages

Troyer’s Country Market

Heart of Ohio Antique Mall – Springfield, Ohio

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Because of back problems the past two years, I haven’t been able to travel too far and my daughter and I have taken one day a week during the month of September for a “staycation” day in an area that doesn’t require too much driving.  We enjoyed our last day of this year’s staycation traveling about 1-1/2 hours to Springfield, Ohio.  We pass through the charming town of Yellow Springs and love to have lunch at Young’s plus a stop on the way back home for one of their renowned Bull Shakes made with cream from their own Jersey cows.

It’s about 30 minutes from Yellow Springs to a huge antique mall called “Heart of Ohio” with 650 dealers.  I found a treasure -a  handmade book rack that I would date to the 1940s with my favorite Scottie theme.  I imagine it was made from a kit and includes flaws like the very visible screws and holes drilled in the wrong place, but that made it more lovable to me.

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When we got in the car, my daughter handed me something she had bought as a remembrance of our trip.

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It’s Roseville and the chips (which I don’t mind) made it very affordable.  I love the little dog lapping up the spilled milk.

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On the way home, I was telling my daughter I had seen a small “Made in Japan” Dutch planter which I talked myself out of buying.  Later that evening, she came out with another package that she was going to save as a Christmas gift – the planter I wished I had picked up.

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This was a very successful day.

One week of our staycation we went to a favorite restaurant (Grand Finale in Glendale, Ohio) and our favorite local antique mall (Ohio Valley Antiques in Fairfield, Ohio).  We’re at these two places so often, I didn’t think about taking pictures.

Last week we visited an Adams County, Ohio, store.

The first week we stayed local with lunch at our favorite barbecue restaurant (Eli’s in the East End of Cincinnati) ….

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…Stopped off at Avoca Park in Terrace Park …

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…and did some antique store browsing in Milford, Ohio.

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I’m beginning to really love this staycation idea.

A Staycation Day in Adams County, Ohio

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For many years, my daughter and I traveled to Holmes County, Ohio, to spend several days in Amish Country.  I can’t travel too much any more and we have been taking one day a week during September to visit an area that is not too far away.  This week, we decided to drive about an hour and a half to a small Amish community in Adams County.  It was well worth the driving time and, in fact, the drive was a really enjoyable part of the day.

We started off the day with brunch at a Cracker Barrel in nearby Milford, Ohio.  I recommend the pecan pancakes but unless you have a hearty appetite, order just two pancakes – not three as I did.  They are huge!

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We wanted to visit Miller’s Amish store in West Union and I was especially anxious to shop in the Bulk Foods building.  I bought some hard-to-find items along with pumpkin fudge to eat on the way home.

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They have a large selection of furniture and I especially liked this glider with the morning glories.  My daughter said it was very comfortable.

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My daughter loves to travel the back roads and we passed many houses with the familiar Amish clothing drying on clothes lines and an occasional buggy.  We also passed one buggy on the road, trying to contend with automobile traffic on a bridge.  These horses were beautiful but kept their heads hidden behind a fence.

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This was one of the back roads we traveled with no traffic at all.

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We were able to cross over a perfect covered bridge.

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To me, it was a condensed trip to Amish country with everything we wanted to see, only there was less of it.  A very successful staycation day.

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Antique Store Finds in Amish Country

This past week, my daughter and I made our annual trip to Holmes County Amish Country (north-central Ohio).  We traveled on Monday and Wednesday and had the full day Tuesday free for shopping in quilt shops, gift shops and a wonderful antique mall.  At the Antique Trading Post in Millersburg, I found this hanger with tiny china plates and cups which I would date to the late 1940s.  The china is crazed and worn-looking which I love and has my favorite Dutch motifs.

I’m always drawn to the little made-in-Japan pieces that I remember from my grandmas’ and aunts’ houses in the 1940s.  I couldn’t resist this salt and pepper set.

For my daughter and me, the main focus of the trip is the beautiful scenery, the great food and our stay on a Mennonite farm, Mel and Mary’s Cottages, but the shopping is also so wonderful in little towns like Berlin, Sugar Creek, Walnut Creek and my favorite name, Charm.  We like to go in the fall when the colors are at their prettiest and see the rolling farmland and all of the charming (and very friendly) Amish people.

Amish Children Garden Banner – Canvas Duck Fabric

A while back, I made my first garden banner featuring a harness horse.  So far, it has held up well through a very hot, sunny summer and a few torrential rains.  I wanted to make another banner for “back to school” and chose a favorite design by Helan Barrick from my decorative painting days.  I call this a banner rather than a flag because it is quite stiff and becomes even more so when exposed to the weather.

I used canvas duck fabric (not outdoor canvas which is treated) which was sewn to make a double thickness 12×18 inch banner with sleeve and primed it with two coats of Gesso front and back.  Then I drew the design on the front and painted it with acrylics.

For the back, which I can see clearly from my front window, I painted a design of an Amish-style quilt block.

Both sides were finished with two coats of Minwax Clear Satin Polycrylic to make it weather-proof.

I like seeing the banner in my front yard – my dog Rusty is looking out the door, probably admiring the quilt block on the back!

The Amish and the Honey Bees are Visiting my August Kitchen

My favorite vacation destination is Amish Country in Holmes County, Ohio.  It is so picturesque with photo-op scenery around every corner and each bend in the road.  In August, I display a few items that have been purchased and some that have been handmade.  The two cast-iron figures on the window sill were a recent gift and I love the one of the woman quilting.  On my shelf I have a set of 4 figures that I’ve had for many years.  They look so similar to the families we see walking along the road when we visit Amish Country.



My first cast-iron Amish figures were an engagement gift from a friend in 1952 -a set of salt and pepper shakers.  This little guy’s mate was lost many years ago and he’s a little the worse for wear because all four of my children carried him around when they were toddlers.

I have two beautiful framed  pieces made by my oldest daughter …



…and two wall hangings that I made ….

My daughter loves bees and contributed several items when she moved back home.  I made two of her embroidered pieces into wall hangings  …


For me, displaying these beautiful things is a nice segue from summer into fall.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

Repurposing a Pillow into a Wall Hanging

This wall hanging began life as a pillow in 2007 when it won a blue ribbon at our county fair.  Then, it went into the cedar chest to be given as a gift to the proper person.  Each time, I hung onto it and gave something else from the chest and decided this year, I would like to have it made into a wall hanging that I could use more than I could a pillow.

It was pretty easy to disassemble the pillow, make the back into top and bottom borders, and add a backing.  I omitted binding and simply sewed the wall hanging and backing right sides together, then turned and top-stitched.   I used drapery hooks rather than adding a sleeve.

This pattern was adapted from a decorative painting design by my favorite artist, Helan Barrick.  I simplified it quite a bit to make it into a fused applique panel and added the pieced blocks in typical Amish colors.  The little quilt the girls are working on is also pieced.

I’m enjoying seeing this repurposed item in my kitchen after all these years.

Fabric Goodies from Amish Country (Ohio)

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I’ve posted before about the beautiful Amish country of Holmes County, Ohio.  My oldest daughter and I made another trip just in time for the peak colors and gorgeous landscapes.

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This area is also a shopper’s paradise, particularly for quilters.  My three favorite quilt shops are Helping Hands (Berlin), Gramma Fannie’s Quilt Barn (Berlin), and Miller’s Dry Goods (Charm).

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Although I buy a lot of fabric for specific quilt projects, I especially love to find a bin filled with bags of remnants.  I found three this trip – a 75-cent bag…

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…a $2 bag….

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…and a $5 bag.

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The little Amish lady behind the counter told me the remnants in the $5 bag were from a quilt she had just completed.  I would love to see her quilt with all those pretty fall colors.

We always stay at a cottage set in the middle of Amish farms – very quiet, picturesque and charming.  There are plenty of restaurants serving Amish-style, hearty meals and lots of fun things to see and do.

I would highly recommend a visit if you’re ever in this section of Ohio.

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Amish Graham Nuts Cereal

This recipe is based on one from a wonderful book, Cooking from Quilt Country by Marcia Adams. Wholesome ingredients like whole wheat flour and buttermilk go into an easy mixture that bakes into crunchy cereal.

HOMEMADE GRAHAM NUTS

  • 3-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.  Add the buttermilk and vanilla, mixing well.

Pour out into an oiled 10-1/2×15-1/2″ flat baking pan and spread evenly.  Dampening your palms with water is an easy way to get the dough spread out evenly.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the batter is firm, medium-brown in color and shrinks slightly from the sides of the pan.  Loosen from the pan and allow to cool on a rack for several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.  Break up the pieces of cereal and pulse in a food processor until coarse crumbs are formed.  Divide the crumbs between two 10-1/2×15-1/2″ jellyroll pans that are lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on degree of crispness you like.  An hour made the cereal just right for my taste and so it didn’t get soggy in milk.

Let cool, then store in an airtight container.  Since there are no preservatives in the cereal, I would suggest refrigerating or freezing the cereal if you don’t plan to use it within two weeks or so.

Serve as a cold cereal with milk and a bit of brown sugar if desired (I didn’t think it needed additional sugar).  A few raisins and/or walnuts are a nice addition.

Note:  The original recipe called for baking in a 12×16″ flat pan.  I didn’t have that size and added some time to the baking to compensate and also to get the degree of crispness I wanted.

Yield:  Approximately 11 cups of cereal.

This beautiful book, Cooking from Quilt Country, published in 1989, not only has great homemade Amish/Mennonite-inspired recipes but loads of color pictures and information on the Amish and Mennonite people and their culture.  I found my copy in an antique shop, but I notice the book is also available, new and used, at Amazon and on eBay.