A Walk in the Park

The weather has been so gorgeous lately...well, not today obviously (though I'd take cool and rainy over 90+ degrees and 100% humidity anyday!).  Late July in Cincinnati is usually stiflingly humid and melt-your-skin-off hot; where venturing outdoors usually results in a hot, sticky mess.  But lately the weather has barely gone over 80 degrees and the air has been crisp and pleasant, not thick and steamy like usual.  Last Thursday was one of those days...sunny, blue skies and warm, but not too warm.  So, on my way home from work I picked up some Indian food and Antoine and I (and Cheese) headed over to French Park for a picnic and a walk.
Antoine and I enjoyed our Indian food (from Deep India, our favorite!) while Cheese hoped we'd share...and then complained when we didn't!

After our picnic we decided to check out one of the nearby trails.  Although we've lived in the area for almost 4 years now, French Park is still pretty new to us.  We've only been a couple times and this was our first time on any of its trails, which I gotta say are pretty great!

And boy, oh boy, did Cheese have a great time!  He loved playing in the stream and drinking it's cool water.
So handsome!

While I was snapping some photos of some flowers, because that's what I do, this butterfly was nice enough to stop by and stick around for a bit so I could take his picture.

Well, it's official, I've definitely fallen in love with French Park!  And I can't wait to take Cheese back for another romp in the woods.  Have you ever been to French Park?  What's your favorite Cincinnati area park?  French Park is definitely the most convenient one for us, but there are so many we want to check out but haven't yet.

*In case you missed them, here's some 35mm photos I took at French Park in late April.



Here's the last of my photos from Amish Country.  I know I'm a little behind, but oh well, that's how it goes sometimes.  Anyway, the day of our departure from Amish Country we woke up to find three horses grazing in the pasture behind our B&B, so we naturally went down and lured them to the fence with grass so we could pet them.
I had a horse growing up, but Antoine's never really been this close to a horse so it was his first time feeding one...making it all the more fun for us!


Stealth-like Cheese

I couldn't resist sharing this, it's just too cute/awesome!  The other night we took Cheese to the with us to French park for a picnic and a walk.  I made this gif from some photos I took of Cheese catching his treat, a carrot.  It's one of his favorite treats and we always try to bring some with us when we go to the park for a picnic so he doesn't feel left out!

Here's a still, just for the fun of it!


After the Rain

While we were in Amish Country on Saturday it rained on and off all day.  One minute it would be crystal clear and sunny, the next the skies would open up.  And then , it would magically be sunny again.  Now don't get me wrong, sporadic weather (when it involves a little sun) is always better than nonstop rain/storms.  Plus, it makes for really pretty pictures of flowers with little raindrops on them...and we all know how I feel about flowers!

Unfortunately the raindrops quickly evaporated, but, as you know, I don't need raindrops to find flowers completely mesmerizing!

After our trip to Heini's the sun was shining and the temperature immediately perked up.  It was gorgeous, and I wasn't the only one who noticed because there were bumble bees and butterflies everywhere taking advantage of sun and the array of pretty flowers.  That's the other great thing about Amish Country, in the summer it's so very green and there are flowers all over the place! 

These lilies are actually from my parents yard.  They have all kinds of beautiful lilies surrounding there house, huge beds of them.  I love it!

Happy Friday everyone!  Any good plans in the works this weekend?  I'm planning on laying low and catching up on my crocheting.  Have a great weekend!


Holmes with a View (B&B Review)

Antoine and I aren't normally bed and breakfast people.  We've been to a couple and never had a bad experience, in fact, we've only had positive ones.  And don't get me wrong, I love the idea of an included homemade breakfast!  But bed and breakfasts tend to have a social element built into them, and that's just not our thing.  Mainly, it's not my thing.  Talking to strangers while I'm on vacation terrifies me and doesn't sound at all appealing.  Luckily, all of the bed and breakfast experiences we've had have been stress-free and involved little to no socializing.  Holmes with a View*, where we stayed for a night while we were in Amish Country, was the epitome of a stress-free, private bed and breakfast.  Combine that with a really cool design and one heck of a view and you've got one awesome bed and breakfast!

  Unlike most B&Bs where all the guests stay in one house, Holmes with a View's suites are completely separated from the proprietors home.  After checking in (at the proprietors home), you drive a couple hundred feet down the road to three circular buildings.  Each building is two stories high and each contain two suites, one on the top floor and one on the bottom.  Each suite has it's own private entrance and separate parking.  One of the buildings is larger than the other two because its suites have two bedrooms instead of one.  We obviously stayed in a one bedroom suite, and chose a top level one.

Look at that view! Isn't it incredible?

Now, it's definitely pricier than we'd normally spend, but in the end we agreed that it was totally worth it!  In fact, we were both blown away by this place and will definitely return in the future.  If you're looking for a quiet, private, and romantic getaway in Amish Country, I'd definitely suggest this place.  I mean, just look at it!
A full kitchen complete with all the necessities, nearly 360 degree windows to enjoy that spectacular view, an adorable little seating area for two, a jacuzzi tub, dish tv (as well as a collection of movies and board games),  a full bath with shower and a bedroom with a view.  Oh, and if that's not enough...continental breakfast waiting for you in your room.

After you check-in and get the keys to your suite and then you oooh and ahhh over it for a couple minutes you realized that your included continental breakfast is already there in your room, waiting for you to enjoy it the following morning.  You don't even have to get out of your pajamas to enjoy your breakfast...icing on the cake!  Delicious cinnamon rolls, a loaf of Amish bread, homemade strawberry jam, an assortment of juices, coffee, tea, popcorn (for a late-night snack) and a Keurig...all in your room waiting for you!  Doesn't get much better than that!  Oh wait, a britta in the fridge full of ice cold water to cool you off after all your sightseeing?  Check!  (This made Antoine and I very happy!  We are very picky about water and we like it ice cold, so yay!)

Picture this, you wake up after a day of shopping/eating cheese samples/feasting on the ultimate comfort food/relaxing in a bubble bath, etc. and you warm up a cinnamon roll, make some coffee and enjoy it on the balcony while looking out on this.  That's just awesome!  Makes it totally worth the price tag.
And the peacefulness of this place is crazy!  It's up on a hill away from any traffic, so you're surrounded by fields and flowers and all you hear are birds chirping and the occasional cluck of a chicken.  It's wonderful.

Oh, and in the morning, there might be horses in your backyard, which is pretty cool!

We had the best time!  It was so relaxing and perfect, we can't wait to go backIf you're planning a trip to Amish Country, I would definitely recommend this place.  Also, you could make it a little more affordable by splitting the two-bedroom suite with four people, say for a girls weekend or two couples.

* (Holmes = Holmes County, the heart of Amish Country) 

Holmes with a View has no idea I'm writing this post and has not given me any incentive to do so, we just really loved it and I wanted to share it with everyone!


Amish Country Adventures

Our trip to Amish Country was really just a step back into my childhood for me, and it was fantastic!  Since Antoine had never been I decided to take him to all the places I used to go to with my parents, places I had mentioned to him many times.  The first on the list was Ashery Country Store, a bulk food store where you can stock up on herbs, spices, and candy and the prices are great.  Seriously, most of the time it's about half the price of what you'd pay for that item in the grocery store.
We got a variety of spices/herbs and even some of our favorite candies! 

Next up on the list was Lehman's, a hardware/home goods store that looks like an old-timey store inside with just the best variety of goods imaginable. 

I think our favorite section of Lehman's was the sodas.  They had a incredible selection of all different types of sodas, including root beer, birch beer, cream soda and, my favorite, ginger ale.  They even had a couple of crazy ones, like bacon soda, peanut butter and jelly soda, and corn on the cob soda...which we weren't up to trying.
 Naturally I made Antoine try on hats and pose for me, because I'm mean.  And he's adorable!

The entire place is filled with vintage equipment and decorations that just make this place even more awesome!  We had a blast just walking around and admiring everything.

After Lehman's, we made our way to Heini's Cheese Chalet for some cheese.  For my family, no trip to Amish Country was complete without a trip to Heini's!  Cheese-love runs in the family; it's in my genes!
  One of the great things about Heini's, besides the fact that they make all their cheese in-house using Amish milk and you can watch them through a giant glass window (and take tours), is they offer samples of nearly every cheese they sell.  It's A LOT of samples.  You stand in a line and go through a little maze of cheese samples.  It's glorious and, in the end, extremely difficult to decide which cheeses you should take home.  Also, their prices are extremely fair!  But sadly, like most places in Amish Country, they are closed on don't try going then.

After checking into our bed and breakfast (more on that later), we headed north to the Amish Door.  Growing up, the Amish Door was always our preferred lunch/dinner spot.  It's comfort food at its finest and their bakery is amazing.  We both got what they're known for, broasted chicken.  It's like fried chicken except it's cooked in a pressure fryer so it's in the oil about half the time as regular fried chicken.  This makes the chicken incredibly moist and delicious without being greasy!  Pair it up with some homemade mashed potatoes and stuffing and you're one happy camper, I promise!
We were too full from all the broasted chicken and mashed potatoes to have dessert there, so we decided to hit up the bakery after our meal.  I had my heart set on peanut butter cream pie, because it's amazing....but they were out!!!  It was almost 8pm and they were about to close.  My heart sank.  But then the nice girl behind the bakery counter offered to whip one up for us if we didn't mind waiting a couple minutes!  Umm, YES PLEASE!!  So, after a couple minutes we had our peanut butter pie in hand and were heading pack to our B&B.  A couple hours later I had to cut into it and have a slice because it was just calling out my name.  Mmmm, so good!

The following morning, since it was Sunday, almost every place in Amish Country was closed...except for one, Guggisberg Cheese.  And it happened to be right down the road from our B&B.  And, obviously we needed more cheese, even after Heini's.  
 I had never been to Guggisberg growing up, but the outside was adorable and I loved their collection of cuckoo clocks (bottom left closeup is one of my favorites!).  They only had a couple samples of cheese and the interior was kind of small, but it was still great that they were one of the only places open on Sunday.  And the place was filled with people stopping in on their way home.

We spotted some horses across the street so decided to cross and say "hi".  Then we saw a little family of goats.
 This guy definitely wanted me to take his picture!
Not sure why his/her tongue is hanging out, but this is one of the very few shots I got where the other one wasn't hitting him in the face with his tail.

I think Antoine really enjoyed every single place we went and I think his birthday in Amish Country was a big success!  

*Sorry to disappoint anyone expecting pictures of Amish buggies and whatnot.  Personally it never crossed my mind to take any, and in fact it has always been a subconscious reaction to put my camera down when they are around.  Growing up we lived by many rural Amish and I know how sensitive they are about this and I would never want to offend anyone.