Monday, August 15, 2011

The Simple Life

After reading about the Amish and even making my own Amish quilt over the years, I finally got to spend a day in Amish Country. I could have spent a week there without running out of things to see and do but the day I had was great. My new daughter-in-law, Kelly, grew up about an hour from the Amish area in Ohio so she knew all the places I needed to see in a day. I was so excited to be going and made sure we were on the road, ready to arrive when the doors to the shops opened.

To me seeing a horse and buggy was the ultimate Amish viewing. I was not disappointed. They were on all the main highways and my family teased me that I took the same picture of them over and over (from the back) but upon closer look of my pictures, every buggy was different.
Our first stop of the day was at Lehman's in Kidron. I was familiar with the store as I used to receive their catalog when Y2K was on my mind. I wasn't prepared for the huge assortment of products from the past. The store was huge and lacking in nothing. Oil lamps, lava soap, toys, hats, cooking supplies, crocks and dishes, books, wood burning stoves and outdoor supplies filled the shelves. I do believe a person could spend an entire day in Lehman's alone.

Ashery Country Store was our next stop in Fredericksburg
. It offers bulk foods many of which can not be left behind. I brought home dark chocolate covered peanuts, Buckwheat pancake mix, yogurt covered pretzels, Buckeyes, sunflower seeds, and Matt and Kelly picked up beef and turkey jerkey. The huge bags of flour, pie fillings, potato chips, seasonings, jams, jellys and relishes could stock a pantry for a lifetime. Our sales clerks were dressed in their traditional dresses and bonnets which added to the authenticity of shopping in Amish Country.
They now take credit cards.
Rows of goodies.

Heini's Cheese Factory

Heini's Cheese Chalet in Berlin had us looking forward to sampling.The cheese is made in the factory right there on the premises and samples of all the cheeses are available. We used a toothpick to pick out a chunk of cheese from a covered plastic bowl (with signs not to put the toothpick in our mouth!). The cheese was wonderful and if I hadn't been traveling I would have brought home many different kinds. I did pick out 3 cheese spreads (Cajun crab, apple raisin and roasted pepper). Rex picked out a chunk of Swiss cheese. Lines of people moved along the coolers with their toothpicks in hand sampling every offering. Pretzels were used for the cheese spreads. It was so much fun and so very tasty. Once I was full of cheese samples, I went to the other end of the store to the gift shop. It was lovely and I found some personalized notecards.
Rex shows a sample!
After all that cheese you'd think we wouldn't be hungry but we were ready for our next stop, Der Dutchman in Walnut Creek. This Restaurant is famous for its authentic Amish Kitchen Cooking, and it is in the original location serving food traditions for more than 40 years. The waiting line trailed down the porch but the restaurant is so large the line moved quickly. Our meal was served family style and included soup and salad bar, large rolls with available peanut butter and apple butter for spreading, 3 meats, homemade mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, green beans and our choice of pie for dessert. The helpings were huge and between the four of us we still left plenty untouched. What a sad thing that was!
A nap after lunch!
Sampling from salad bar

Waddling back to the car with very full tummies, we stopped to admire the panoramic view of Goose Bottom Valley. Red barns and farms dotted the countryside. What a gorgeous view that a camera doesn't do justice to. .
Neat farms on the hillside.

Back on the road, we returned to Berlin to Tis the Season. This is Ohio's largest year round Christmas shop with three floors of Christmas wonderland. Of course we went to every corner of the large store. It was beautiful.

While still in the Berlin area we made a stop at Wendell August Forge. I knew about this store because Kelly and Matt had brought us wonderful gifts from this store on another of their visits.
I knew I would love this store, and I did. It had so many hand-hammered metal gifts to call out to me. I found a pewter tray with quilt patterns that called my name. But for $75 I left it there. I did buy an Amish Christmas tree ornament so that is a trip keepsake for my day with the Amish. There were necklaces, bracelets, cups, bowls, coasters and trays made from hand-hammered aluminum, bronze, copper and pewter. Beautiful craftmanship was in everything. As we left the store, the wooden porch had the cutest rock planters along the edge. They were available to buy but fitting one in my suitcase would not have been practical, as much as I loved them.
Wendell August Forge

Rock flower planters

This is a display showing the
steps to making a Wendall-August

Stores were starting to close so we had to call it a day. On our way back we did drive by Cat's Meow Village. I was sad to see it had already closed as I have known about those little wooden houses for years. I think I even still have a few. It was such a full day though and we were all tired so it was just as well that we could slow it down for the day.
There are still many places we didn't visit but I'm delighted with all we got to see in a day. Kelly definitely knew the premier places to show us and after all these years, I am so happy I got to see the Amish people in their hometowns.

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