The next morning was bright and beautiful! A hot shower, hot breakfast, and hot tea were the perfect beginning to a day full of exploring this amazing part of the country. While I was getting breakfast, I met the Executive Manager of the Cobblestone Hotel and Suites. Very personable and welcoming. Told him about our event and all the fabulous women attending and possibly staying at this hotel. He was very grateful we had chosen his place as one of our preferred hotels.
For all the traveling I do, it’s the little things I notice in a hotel that take it up a notch for me. The lobby, my room, and the dining area were all neat and clean. And then I spied the coffee and TEA! I am a tea drinker; every morning, it’s how I start my day. I can also appreciate coffee —when it’s good coffee. At the Cobblestone Hotel and Suites they serve Seattle’s Best Coffee (I used to live in the Seattle area, and it’s good!) and TEAVANA! Teavana with lots of choices, not just one or two. No scrimping here for those of us who are tea drinkers!
As soon as I threw my bag in the car and checked out, I headed to Smucker’s, only a few minutes down the road. Driving through the gate was like driving into an amusement park — lots of colors, signs, and the very inviting Smucker’s building. I walked through the big white, farm-looking doors and was awed by all the jams, jellies, and products from around the world! I meandered, reading labels of all the myriad flavors. Hard to choose, but I eventually picked up a few for gifts and one for me.
Back to the car for a quick jaunt to the Dutch Kitchen where I met up with Jane (from LHG of Washington PA) and June (from LHG of Huron OH). We all piled into Jane’s car, and her wonderful husband graciously offered to chauffeur us around the area.
First stop? Shisler’s Cheese House! The Amish and Mennonite are known for their cheeses, and this quaint little “house” was jock full of all kinds of cheeses! We tasted a few samples before finally deciding on Pearl Valley Swiss and purchasing enough to snack on in the car while we cruised around Amish Country. It was fascinating to me the stories that accompanied the different varieties of cheeses — which farm they came from and their history.
Next stop, the Ashery, an Amish-run market. I was a tad overwhelmed in the very best way!!! They had every spice or herb you could think of, old-fashioned candies and snacks. Flours (all kinds!), pastas, oh, so much yumminess in one place! Seriously folks, if you like to dabble in the kitchen at all, this place is a MUST SEE! I mean, just look at the picture of the spice cabinet – I couldn’t even get the whole thing in a single photo frame.
After we stuffed the back of the car with all kinds of goodies, we zipped over to Behalt, the Amish, and Mennonite Heritage Center. If you like museums and history, you’re going to love this one! We watched a video first explaining the area’s history in relation to the Amish and Mennonite — fascinating! There were artifacts throughout the building and a great bookstore. I’m a sucker for books and purchased one about the Amish.
The highlight — and they were gracious enough to give us a peek — a gigantic, floor-to-ceiling cyclorama of the Amish and Mennonite history painted by a single artist. The room is mesmerizing, and I could have stayed there for a long time! “Behalt, meaning “to keep” or “to remember,” is a 10 ft tall x 265 ft long cyclorama, or mural-in-the-round. Behalt illustrates the heritage of the Amish and Mennonite people from their Anabaptist beginnings in Zürich, Switzerland, in 1525 to the present day.”
So much to see and do there, but we had a schedule to keep, so into the car we piled! We drove back to the Dutch Kitchen, passing gorgeous Amish farms, old-fashioned one-room schoolhouses filled with Amish children, horse-drawn buggies, a chocolate factory, another cheese house — literally, my head felt like it was on a swivel trying to take it all in!
The Dutch Kitchen, a converted 1858 farmhouse, is so charming! I love when owners retain the originality and integrity of a building, and the Dutch Kitchen did not disappoint. And beyond the charm of the old farmhouse, the food was delicious! We all decided to try the buffet — the many choices were a little overwhelming. Between all of us, we tried everything and gave our decision to have the buffet a thumbs up! My favorite part of the meal — the desserts. The Dutch Kitchen is known for its baked goods; now we know why! Jane’s husband was more than willing to accept my request to try more than one dessert from the buffet 😊
Cookies, pudding, and a vast assortment of yummy pies were taste-tested by the 4 of us … we had a job to do, and we did it very well!! We met with the Executive Chef and took a tour of the facility. The Dutch Kitchen will serve as “home base” for our event, with access to the banquet hall 24 hours a day. Needless to say, I’m very excited to have partnered with this establishment and those who create such scrumptious meals! With very full bellies and the satisfaction that comes from a great meeting, we made our way back to the car, yet again …
Our last stop for the day – Lehman’s! I’d wanted to visit this homesteading mecca for years, and finally, I was on my way!