A Short Trip to Amish Country – Holmes County, Ohio


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.


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.

Holmes County Amish Country

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) ….


…Stopped off at Avoca Park in Terrace Park …



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


I’m beginning to really love this staycation idea.

A Staycation Day in Adams County, Ohio


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.


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.


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


We were able to cross over a perfect covered bridge.


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.


Visits to a Farm Market and a Beautiful Park

The Meade House, Sycamore Township
The Meade House, Sycamore Township

Throughout the summer and now into fall, every Tuesday afternoon my daughter, our dog Addie and I have taken a 10-minute drive to historic downtown Loveland (Ohio) to visit their large farmer’s market.  In addition to fruits, vegetables ….

…and flowers…

…we’re also looking for something good for supper.  In the past we have had slices of Greek pizza, croissants stuffed with vegetables or ham/cheese, Thai noodle salad, chocolate filled croissants, cheese pastries, etc.  This time, my daughter picked up a small pumpkin for later use, croissants to be served with some good Swiss cheese, apple dumplings and a Chocolate Bobka.

Since our shelter dog Addie is afraid of men, shy around women and too enthusiastic around other dogs, I walk with her on the outskirts of the market while my daughter shops.

On the way home, we stopped off at a park in our neighborhood.  While my daughter took Addie for a long walk on the primitive trail, I found a bench in the back of the historic 1906 Meade House which is headquarters for the Cincinnati Horticultural Society.

Even though the flowers are starting to fade a little now, they are still gorgeous all around this graceful old home.


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We came home to a delicious supper served on paper plates so there would be no cleanup required.  We had croissants with cheese and the rich delicious bobka – saved the apple dumplings for another day.  I had remembered Chocolate Bobka (or Babka) from an old Jerry Seinfeld TV episode.  We had no idea how utterly decadent and scrumptious this is.

We have just three more times to go to the farm market before they close for the season.  I wonder what we’ll find next week.


A Staycation Day–Lunch and Antiques in Two Old Buildings

My daughter and I are continuing to have one day a week this month as a staycation day, lunching and then visiting an antique shop in the Cincinnati area.  This week, we went to lunch at a restaurant we’ve been enjoying for over 35 years.   This beautiful place is located in the equally beautiful village of Mariemont.  Mariemont was founded in the 1920s as a planned community village and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2007.  The area has houses built in the English architectural styles from Norman to classic Georgian.  The Mariemont Inn is a Tudor Revival which opened as a hotel in 1929 and the restaurant is named after the term the founder used to describe the village – a National Exemplar in practical town planning.

There are two large dining areas plus party rooms and several areas like this beautiful lounge.

My daughter and I always order a favorite turkey and dill crepe when we have lunch here.  The potatoes are simply wonderful – crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

We left the gorgeous Mariemont Inn ….

And drove a short distance to the Cincinnati suburb of Oakley.  The antique store, Duck Creek Antiques, is housed in a building that used to be the Grace A Rush Bakery, in business from 1937 to the late 1980s.  Mrs. Rush had a thriving fruitcake business in her home in upscale Hyde Park before she moved to the building in middle class Oakley.  I raised my family in Oakley and remember the bakery and the wonderful Grace Rush fruitcakes very well.  It’s nice now to browse through the booths of over 150 dealers on two floors in this 1930s building.

Duck Creek Antique Mall

I found two items at reasonable prices:  A large soup cup with a Dutch motif….


….and a small ironstone syrup pitcher.
Another very beautiful and successful vacation day.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

An Eating and Antiquing Vacation Day

My vacation plan this year is to spend one day a week during September to have lunch and browse an antique mall with my oldest daughter.  This week, we revisited Glendale, an area near Cincinnati that we love.  The village was begun in 1851 by 30 gentlemen who wanted to live in a rural area but still work in downtown Cincinnati.  The first house was built in 1852 and many of them from the pre-Civil War era are still standing and in beautiful condition.  We like to just ride through the streets and look at the old homes and gardens at different times of the year.

A more modern addition in an old building is the Cock and Bull Restaurant.  We had never eaten here before and in the spirit of vacation adventure, decided to give it a try.
We sat by a window with a view of one of the early houses in the village.
I don’t usually order fish but staying with the Cock and Bull theme, I decided to order fish and chips.  It was wonderful – two large portions of thick white fish with a great, light, crispy topping.

My daughter ordered a fish sandwich and a glass of Guiness.

After lunch, we drove a short distance to Fairfield, Ohio, to the Ohio Valley Antique Mall  This is a huge mall and a favorite of ours.  My daughter rented space and sold antiques here a few years ago.

The store occupies 65,000 square feet (plus an in-store café) and every inch of it is filled with pretty booths and displays.  I liked this booth which included a lot of replacement lids along with its other treasures.



I was drawn to this old refrigerator and thought a bit about buying the paper storage unit on the wall with a Dutch motif.  I liked it a lot but I just don’t have the wall space for it.

I did buy a small creamer pitcher that I love.  I like these little pitchers for serving sauce for dessert or for a small arrangement of flowers.  The piece was marked Germany.

When I got home, I realized I had a sugar bowl on the mantel from the same line, only with a water lily instead of roses.

I’m really enjoying this vacation.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

Another Vacation Day at Home

I’m unable to go on my regular vacation this year, so have planned to take one day a week through the month of September to go with my daughter to a nice restaurant for lunch and then on to some antique store browsing.

Both the restaurant and antique mall I chose this week are old favorites and both are housed in early 1900s buildings nestled in historic neighborhoods.

We’ve been going to the Grand Finale Restaurant since it opened in l975.  It’s located in a beautiful, old community called Glendale (Cincinnati) and the building started out in the early 1900s as a saloon, and then from 1928 to 1970 was a corner market.  The building is sedate even on a busy corner…..
…with lovely Victorian décor throughout a large dining room and patio area.  Our table looked out on a small, lush garden, one of my daughter’s favorite spots.

The staff is excellent as is the food – starting with salad and hot rolls.

My daughter ordered our #1 favorite on the menu, Chicken Ginger with Spinach Crepe.

This time, I decided to try their Chicken Potpie with Puff Pastry Topping.

It was perfect.

After lunch, we drove about 30 minutes to Ross, Ohio, to check out the antique store.  It’s housed in an early 1900s building which was the entertainment center for the surrounding neighborhood which is still rural.  Until the late 1940s, there was a restaurant (with chicken dinners) on the first floor, bowling alleys in the basement, and a huge dancing pavilion on the second floor.

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Now, every floor and every nook and cranny is filled with antiques.  The outside of the building looks very similar to the way it looked in the 1920s.


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It was a lovely visit to a great old store and I even found a little piece of 1930s-40s era ovenware to add to my Dutch collection.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

An Old Time Picker – The Ragman

The popularity of American Pickers on TV reminded me of the “rag pickers” of the 1930-40s era in Cincinnati.  There was the occasional horse-drawn cart that rumbled through the streets of our small working-class East End neighborhood with a picker shouting in a sing-song style, “Any rags or old iron”.  They were the pickers looking to buy; in our neighborhood we also had a picker who wanted to sell.  On hot summer afternoons, a big grey 1930s Packard would turn from Eastern Avenue and make its way down the slope on Gotham Place toward the river bank.

My sister in front of our house with the beautiful pink tea roses.  Gotham Place is shown in the background
My sister in front of our house with the beautiful pink tea roses. Gotham Place is shown in the background

A tall older man with a day’s growth of beard would maneuver the car to a clear spot in the large area outside our little red brick house and set up shop.  The car doors would be opened and from every house on the narrow street women and children would hurry out the door.  Mothers would call out, “The Ragman is here” and everybody would gather around the car to see what treasures might be available that day.

The Ragman drove a very raggedy version of this car
The Ragman drove a very raggedy version of this car

I never learned what the man’s real name was, but he made his rounds of the better homes in Hyde Park, Indian Hill, Mt. Lookout, Mt. Washington, etc., to pick up  castoffs which he sold at very low prices on his various stops throughout the East End.  Customers would pick up an item and ask, “How much?”  The Ragman would think a second or two and give a reasonable price which we could take or leave.  There was a constant stream of questions and answers going back and forth between customer and seller.

Daddy, Mother, Lillian and Shirley  - pictured in the big area in front of our house where the Ragman used to park
Daddy, Mother, Lillian and Shirley – pictured in the big area in front of our house where the Ragman used to park

There was something for everybody – pots and pans, dishes, glassware, clothes, toys, and my favorite – movie magazines.  For a nickel I could buy 3 or 4 slightly outdated publications and read all about Jeanne Crain, Dana Andrews, Lon McAllister and all the other “stars of the silver screen”.  There might also be an occasional Seventeen magazine which was interesting for a pre-teenager to read to get news of the latest styles of clothes and tips on dating.

My mother tended to pick up old pots and pans which could be made new again with her addition of little round metal pieces that she always had on hand to patch worn-out utensils.  My little sister might buy a small doll or toy.  One year she bought a doll’s china tea set with a teapot and creamer that had pouring spouts shaped like elephants’ trunks.  I had been irritable with her when I came home from school that day and Mother said, “Oh, be patient with her.  She worked all afternoon cleaning up a special gift for your birthday.”  It truly was a special gift – I wish I still had it.

y sister and I in our Victory Garden.  In the background is the Cincinnati Water Works
My sister and I in our Victory Garden. In the background is the Cincinnati Water Works

These were the early to mid-1940s World War II days before television and shopping malls.  It was a wonderful treat to be able to do some shopping almost in our front yard on the banks of the Ohio River on a clear blue summer day.

Is it any wonder that my favorite stores now are antique malls and thrift shops?

Click on photos to enlarge.

April 16, 1964 – A Journal Memory

Throughout the years while I was raising my four kids (beginning in 1954), I kept a journal where I periodically made notes about holidays, school, vacations, etc.  As an occasion arises where I think one of my journal entries would be pertinent, I’m going to post it just as I wrote or typed it back in the day (except for an explanatory note or correction of a typo).  

The children will be known here by the nicknames their grandfather used when they were toddlers:  The oldest daughter will be Newsie (because she was as good as a newspaper for finding out the latest happenings), the oldest son is Bar (because he called Grandpa’s truck Bar and Grandpa called him Bar), the youngest son is Jackson, and the youngest daughter is Shanty (as in Shanty-Boat).

Bar and Newsie
Bar and Newsie

 “Jackson saw a plump robin on the front lawn today and with the confidence of childhood announced:  ‘There’s a robin.  It’s spring!’  And I’ll have to agree with him that the miracle of spring has come to Maple Drive.  The sky is a pale clear blue, serving well as the background for tender green buds and leaflets appearing on so many of the trees.  Each lawn is the fresh green of spring and the gorgeous color compensates for the bare patches of earth.  Daffodils, dandelions and violets are blooming, and the tulips are budding.  The leaves of the iris are straight and sure and reassuring.  The temperature is 80 degrees this afternoon and the kids are wearing shorts and crop-tops, and Bar and his friend Danny are tossing a baseball.  Our dog Penny ran with great glee over newly-seeded lawns and through flower beds, and dug a foot-deep hole in the dusty patch beside the back porch.  Newsie and her friend Rosanne came in with nosegays of violets, dandelions and large leaves, picked in the hollow and carefully placed in a yellow plastic cup on the refrigerator.”

Precious memories of a spring almost 50 years ago.

Our First House – 1961 – A Journal Memory

4108 Maple-1961

Throughout the years while I was raising my four kids (beginning in 1954), I kept a journal where I periodically made notes about holidays, school, vacations, etc.  As an occasion arises where I think one of my journal entries would be pertinent, I’m going to post it just as I wrote or typed it back in the day (except for an explanatory note or correction of a typo).  

In 1952, when my husband and I returned home from his brief stint in the Navy, my parents offered to let us rent the upstairs portion of their two-family house at the rate of $12/month (cheap, even in 1952).  By 1961, I had 3 children who were 6, 4 and 10 months – we had outgrown the apartment and were looking for an affordable house that was big enough to accommodate our growing family.  While the oldest girl was in school, I had been on numerous outings with the real estate agent, grasping the four-year-old by one hand and carrying a very heavy baby in a snowsuit on one hip.  Nothing we had seen was right for us.  Then, one February Saturday morning, an ad in the paper caught my eye – and we were on our way to our home on Maple Drive in the Oakley suburb of Cincinnati.

The picture and the following description are from the 1961 real estate flyer.  (Click on picture to enlarge.)

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“If all goes well with the building and loan, I think we have finally started to buy our own home.  On a rainy Saturday morning, I looked through the ‘House for Sale’ ads quickly and suddenly ‘Oakley – $11,250’ leaped at me from the page.  I could hardly wait to call the real estate office, and was even more excited when I heard it described.  It was in a driving rainstorm that Frank, the three kids and I turned onto Maple Drive.  At once, I felt it was too good to be true – such a pretty, quiet, dead-end street, with well-kept homes.  Then we saw the number 4108.  ‘Oh, it’s a shingle!’ Frank said disgustedly, but then we noticed the shingle was only a small amount of trim on the gable and the rest was gleaming white frame.  There was a nice lawn in front and some short pine-like bushes close to the house.  Cement steps led up to a large front porch and on the small second-floor windows were green and white aluminum awnings.  A driveway at the side led to a two-car garage and in back was a small fenced yard, with more property going over the hill.

L. – February 26, 1961″

My parents had been so good to us and I hated to leave, but we needed more room and to have a house with a nice yard for the kids was just a dream come true.  We added another baby girl in 1970 and lived there for 21 years.

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