Monday, March 30, 2009

Introducing Home

Today, we are taking a bloggy trip back home, to MY hometown in Middlebury, IN. I will tell you about some of the stuff in my home town, and in the surrounding areas too.

If you have any interest in Amish Country, this is it. Good food, one of the largest flea markets in the Midwest, and lots of hometown goodness. That's home.

When outsiders think "Amish" they usually think of Lancaster County, PA. However Northern Indiana is now among the largest of all Amish communities. There are actually two main towns you want to visit. You want to come to my hometown, Middlebury, and the neighboring town, Shipshewana. The locals refer to Shipshewana as "Shipshe" (pronounced Ship-Shee). The area is also referred to as "Crystal Valley" because there are lots of rolling hills and during the winter, the snow sparkles like crystal.

And here's a tip before I forget. When shopping for "Amish Goods" such as jellies, jams, breads, throw rugs, quilts, furniture, etc. Look for roadside shops or shops in Amish homes. You will most likely get a better deal here than shopping at the touristy boutiques in town.

Das Dutchman Essenhaus (click here) Translated, this means "The Amish Eating House", or restaurant. You better not pass thru Middlebury without eating lunch or dinner here. They have Menu dining or Family Style. They also have a bakery. However, because the nearby flea market is open on Tues & Weds, I would avoid going these two days or be prepared for a long wait. However, if you do have to there are several shops on their "campus", including a candy shop which is oh so yummy. Or you can do a round of mini-golf across the street while you wait too!

Private Amish Dinner - The above Amish house is my Aunt's & Uncle's. Many Amish Families offer private Amish Dinners in their homes on their farms, as a side business. Not to worry - they comply with the state food service licensing laws. Anyway, my Aunt does this -She provides Authentic Amish Dinners for groups. It is yummy, and you never leave hungry. They serve it Family Style, and each dish is passed around at least twice. So, you can take as much as you want, and of course, homemade Amish pie is the best dessert. You will definitely get your money's worth. The downside is it may not be worth it if you have a bunch of little children. (My kids are good eaters, so it was never a problem.)

Rise 'N Roll Bakery - (click here for more info and address) I ran across this new Amish Bakery two years ago when we were visiting back home. We were on our way to Shipshe for the Flea Market, and I always look for Amish roadside bake sales to get my fix of Whoopie Pies or Shoo Fly Pie, and of course homemade breads. I happened to see this bakery and pulled in. I walked in and guess who I saw??? It was one of my Amish Friends from elementary school. This cute little bakery is owned by my childhood friend, Viola and her husband! How cool is that? Incidentally he sells his handmade furniture at the store as well.

UPDATE: My friend Viola no longer owns the Rise & Roll.  It was purchased by someone else, and moved down the road from it's original location.  Still very good maple rolls.  However, it does have more of a commercial/touristy feel to it.

Country Lane Bakery - (click here for more info & address)  This is one of the best finds ever. Open Tue-Sat, early in the morning, only until late afternoon.  Get their early for best selection of Amish pies, breads and cookies.  I actually love this place better than the Rise 'N Roll.  It's not as crowded or commercialized.  Just a sweet Amish couple running their bakery.  Seriously, the Whoopie Pies, the cinnamon rolls, breads, and other pies are the best here!

Deutsch Kase Haus -(click here for more info) Every time we visit my kids insist on going to the Amish Cheese Factory. I admit, it's one of my favorites too. You can watch cheese making if you get there during the right hours. Also, you can sample every kind of cheese they make. Tip - if you are planning to be out all day, fill a cooler with ice, because you will not want to leave without buying cheese. My favorites are the Colby Cheese (which I can't find around here. Everyone here in UT sells Colby-Jack, not just plain Colby), Butter Cheese and Farmer Cheese. Mmm-Hmm!

FunnyMan, PrettyPrettyPrincess and LittleDuckling 2 years ago at the Cheese Factory.

Flea Market in Shipshe

Shipshewana Flea Market - The flea market is only open on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, from 8a-5p, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Make sure to take plenty of water to keep you hydrated. The food there isn't all that great and it's over-priced. The good news is that there are fresh fruit stands. The nearby fast food places are good, but the lines are long on these days. We usually go to the flea market right after we eat breakfast. We pack fruit snacks, PB&J sandwiches and lots of water. We are usually done by 2pm and head out to clean up, relax and find a nice place to sit and eat.

Yoder's Dept Store - Across from the Flea Market is Yoder's Dept Store.  Whether you're looking for fabric, souvenirs (this is where we go for our Shipshe tee souvenir tees), Amish straw hats, pioneer bonnets, or a quick snack, Yoder's Dept Store has it.

Wanawaves Splash Universe (click here)/ had just opened 2 years ago, and we didn't have time to stop and play. However, my sister took her kids there for the weekend and said they had a blast. She highly recommends it.

UPDATE:  This fun waterpark closed its doors in 2013.  Not enough year-round business to stay open.  So sad, it was a great place.

If you're gonna be in Shipshewana anyway - you have to stop here - The Davis Mercantile.  There are several adorable shops (like Millie's Candy) and there is also is carousel for the kids to ride.  Here are a few other of my favorite shops there:

JoJo's Pretzles - (click here for more info) My second cousin, Jo Jo owns this pretzel place with her husband. My favorite is the Honey Whole Wheat pretzel. The smell is enough to drive you crazy. You won't be able to turn them down!

Lolly's Fabric Store - click here for more info ... Jo Jo's Mom, Elsie owns Lolly's Fabrics. Elsie is married to my father's cousin. Anyway - Elsie has lots of specialty fabrics, quilt squares, and quilts for sale. It's right next to the pretzel shop.

YUPs  - (click here for more information)  If you find yourself in need of some of the best ice cream you'll ever taste, be sure to hit up Yup's Dairyland Ice Cream Stand.  Better than any DQ in my opinion.  It's a darling little stand located at the corner of State Roads 13 & 120.  

Where to stay? In "Crystal Valley" there are tons of B&B's, RV parks, Inns, cabins and campgrounds. There are also hotels and motels in abundance in nearby towns.

One of my favorites is to stay is here: Amish Country Log Cabin Hideway   While this location is not in the town of Middlebury, it's in between Middlebury and Goshen and the scenic (but short) drive is gorgeous. This is a lovely cabin that feels like home away from home.  Seriously the best prices around for larger groups too.  (We've stayed here for family reunions before.)  The price cannot be beat, but you usually have to book far in advance.  Email them to see if it's available for you.  They also own two other cabins in Middlebury.

No matter when you plan your trip, plan to relax on Sundays. Most everything is closed on Sundays in both towns. It's safe to say that majority of the locals are church-goin' folks. In my small town alone, there are at least eight different churches- all different religions- and even more if you search the county. (see town link and search for "churches" on the left-hand side.)

Here is a link to my home town. middlebury, indiana We may be small, but we're on the Web!

FunnyMan, PrettyPrettyPrincess and LittleDuckling, getting a "pony-cart" ride from their second cousins.

Thanks for coming "home" with me on our Bloggy Spring Break Trip today! Come Back tomorrow to see where we're headed!


Anonymous said...

My hubby grew up in Amish country too. It's always funny to me to go back and visit because most people get around by horse and buggy!

Dianne said...

You know, this is just cruel and unusual punishment. Here I am stuck in AR and I really want to go to those bakeries! VIrtual just isn't doing it today girl!

Amy said...

WOW I didn't know your cousin owns JoJo's YUMMY we love that place! Also, did you hear The Essenhous had a fire a week ago, nothing to bad, but they were closed for a couple of days! SCARY!!!! Great Post!!! OH and Wana Waves is TONS of fun!!!

Megs said...

so cool.

greenolive said...

I'd have to say you did a great job as tour guide. You hit all of my favorite spots and even some that I haven't done yet. So when you coming out here so we can go together?

Kaye Butler said...

Okay, I think my sugar went straight through the roof just reading this post.

My favorite fiction books are about the Amish.

Thanks so much. Great post.

ann said...

Great job!!

I love the flea Market! I wish they had a little more of the old stuff. vintage! But I still love to go every summer!
can't wait to see were else we go on Spring Break!

kanaboke said...

I wanna go right now!! those Amish eateries sound DELISH!

Holli and Billy said...

What a fun place to live! It would be fun to visit there someday!

okeydokeyifine said...

Even though I was a city girl from Gary it did not take long for me to feel at home in Middlebury. It is the "home" I think about when I think of going home.

It was a great place to raise children. No place is perfect, but it comes close.

You gave me a yearning for home. Thanks for taking me along on your Stay-cation.

Ashley said...

OMG! I can't believe that is where you are from! My grandparents used to go to Shipshewana every year to antique. They owned an antique store here in Alabama for many years and their house is a virtual antique museum. They always rave that Shipshewana is the best place to buy primitive antiques.

There aren't really any Amish communities around us but there is one Amish family and they open up their house for the family dinners like you describe. So neat.

Thanks for the tour of your hometown!

RhondaLue said...

WOW! You make me wanna go there! such nice pics too!

Ok so my friends lived in (and want to go back to) Bloomfield IN..or maybe it was bloomington. Hmm I just remember that Illinois has a city with the same name. Anyway, they LOVED living life there in Indiana. Sounds like a great place to raise a fam!

mrbusdr said...

Dutch Country Market is where I get those noodles everyone likes.  (Bagged while the rooster is still crowing).  They are the best.  This year I got two cases when we were there.

Ruthykins said...

personally, i prefer a thicker noodle than mrbusdr gets. still good though. you didn't mention the country lane bakery. have you not been? i go every time i'm in indiana.

EmmaP said...

yes i go to the country lane bakery. but - i stop there when i go up to the cousins, since it's on the way. however, i HAD to mention the Rise N Roll, since it's Viola's and it's on the way to Shipshe...

Vickie said...

This looks like it would be a fun vacation. My Hubby and I would have a good time. Eating, shopping. Sounds good tome.

Puphigirl said...

I always gotta buy butterkase and birch beer while at Der Kase Haus

I wanna check out WanaWaves next time we're there too. Here we come Family Reunion 2011!

Susie said...

That looks like a great place to live!! Thanks for the tour:-)

Tulsi said...

My uncle lives in IN and used to live in OH. He loves the Amish areas. It is so beautiful there!!

Megan said...

I've never been to Amish country. Sounds very interesting with lots of yummy food! =)