Happy Halloween! Gimme some candy! (Preferably chocolate)

Happy Halloween! Gimme chocolate!

Image credit: Halloween by Jamal Fanalan on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

If you’ve been a reader of my past food posts, such as this recipe post for vegan chocolate chia pudding, you know I don’t have a big sweet tooth. Usually, I don’t crave candy but when there is a stocked candy bowl near me, it beckons me with its sugary, siren call and I can’t resist eating a piece or two (or twelve) of something chocolate.

I’m not alone, according to the National Confectioners Association, chocolate treats are the clear winner in the preferred Halloween candy haul. (Candy corn comes in second, ew.)

Since I’m not one of the 75% of U.S. households that plan to hand out candy tonight, I thought I’d share these Halloween treats instead:

However you choose to celebrate it, have a safe and happy Halloween! (And, don’t forget to brush your teeth after eating your sugary treats!)

Your soap is so last season… Fall into a new Emmet Street Creations handcrafted soap

Emmet Street Creations Fall Handcrafted SoapThat’s right! Now that fall is here, there are certain transitions that need to be made… we turn back our clocks and make sure all the drafty spots are sealed up to keep the cold out and the heat in. We’ve put away the summer t-shirts and shorts and traded them in for sweaters and jeans.

Since you’ve switched up your clothing styles for the season, why not switch up the soap you’re using and keep your shower interesting?

We have lots of options in the Emmet Street Creations Etsy store; here are a few of my faves:

  • Spooktacular jack o’lantern – Infused with pumpkin spice scent and cuteness!
  • Pumpkin spice- Not only does this soap contain the awesomeness of pumpkin spice scent, it contains real pumpkin giving your skin a brightening boost thanks to vitamins A and C.
  • Crisp apple and rose – This soap strikes the perfect balance of not too apple-y, not too rose-y. Maybe we should rename it Goldilocks?
  • Revitalizing rosemary mint – Got some rough dry patches? This exfoliating bar scrapes away dull, dry skin and moisturizes with nourishing natural oils.
  • 80% olive oil – Do you have super dry or sensitive skin? This soap is loaded with soothing olive oil and free of skin-irritating fragrances.
  • Soapy sample pack – You want options in your wardrobe, why not have them in your handcrafted soap? You can pick any three of our store selections for just $12 (and save a few bucks by doing so)!

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Loofah soap experiment: Update #5

The loofah soap experiment: Update 5

Isn’t that a lovely picture of dried loofah sponges? I wish I could take credit for growing these but alas, my loofah are still as green as can be.

Green loofah

Well, all of them except for this monstrosity.

Zombie loofah

Apparently someone got too busy and neglected her garden for a few weeks. This is not what I intended when I started this project but I’m not about to let a little setback deter me. In the spirit of Halloween, I’m calling this a zombie loofah. If you or someone you know is a zombie who needs a little exfoliation, drop me a line and this little gem is all yours. After all, zombies deserve smooth skin, too.

Loofah sponges are supposed to dry on the vine but since the weather is getting colder and mine are showing no signs of starting to dry out, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I removed one of the loofah from the vine and enlisted the help of a former Boy Scout to string it up like a Thanksgiving turkey. It is now hanging from a rafter in my garage.

Tying a loofah with string

I’m really itching to make a soap using loofah. For now, all I can do is be patient and let nature take its course.

Did you miss out on some of the loofun? Check out some of the prior installments of the experiment to see loofah baby pictures, wild vine growth or try a new recipe

Eating Amish: A sampling of Ohio Amish Country food options

Ohio Amish Country Kidron Beet Festival

I’m making plans to attend next year’s festival–Mmm, beets!

Since I took my Ohio Amish Country tour, I’m feeling full of Ohio Pride. I’m also still feeling pretty full because there were so many places to get some down-home cooking!

Planning a trip? Here’s a list of some of the places worth checking out:

  • Amish Door Restaurant – One of the few places I noticed that marked which of their menu offerings were low fat. If you’re feeling indulgent, they have a substantial buffet.
  • Boyd & Wurthmann – Want to get an old-school family restaurant experience? Check this place out–it even has counter seating! It’s said to be the oldest continuously run restaurant in Berlin and I’ve heard you don’t get the barrage of gift shop goodies like you do in the other restaurants in the area.
  • Chalet in the Valley – This is a Swiss-style restaurant. Chocolate and cheese fondue options are on the menu. What else do I need to say?
  • Coblentz Chocolate Company – More chocolate? Yes, please!
  • Dutch Valley/Der Dutchman Restaurant – Owned by the same family-run company these restaurants serve hearty, made from scratch meals. Even though they claim to serve 2 million meals a year, service is friendly and fast.
  • Kauffman Country Bakery – Like baked treats? I think there are few things better than fresh-baked bread. (On an average day they make over 250 loaves!) They also offer sweet treats like cookie and pies, so there’s something for everyone. I’m sure this time of year they’re stocked with all things pumpkin, too.

Based on the places I tried, I have to say you need to forgo any special dietary needs while you’re there (especially vegetarian or vegan). To be fair, I didn’t try too hard. When you walk in, you are assaulted by some pretty good smells so I wavered from my usual careful eating habits.

Have you been to Ohio Amish Country? What’s on your “must eat” list while you’re there?

New in the Etsy store: Chocolate and peanut butter buckeye handmade soap

Emmet Street Creations' Peanut Butter and Chocolate Buckeye Handcrafted Soap

It’s fall and that means football! What better way to celebrate your Ohio Pride while you cheer on The Ohio State University Buckeyes than soothing yourself with the delicious scent of chocolate and peanut butter?

(Even if you’re not a football fan, you’re probably a fan of buckeye candies–those delicious little sugar bombs with a peanut butter center coated in chocolate. Mmm, chocolate…)

From the comfort of your shower you can experience the joy of the win (or wash away the agony of defeat) with the handmade buckeye soap available now in the Emmet Street Creations Etsy store. These little bits of heaven make perfect, no-calorie gifts for loved ones with a sweet tooth. Pick up some today, like football season these treats won’t last long!

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Fun Fall getaways: Ohio Amish Country

Ohio Amish Country Berlin Ohio

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve resisted taking a trip to Ohio Amish Country because I thought it would be a tourist trap and the only thing to see would be stores full of “country cute” things like those faceless Amish dolls and other knicknacky things.

While there are plenty of those things to be found, I also was pleasantly surprised when I finally caved and made the trek. Even though they live a plain life, the business owners are shrewd and have offerings that appeal to a wide variety of interests.

Where is Ohio Amish Country?

Well, the borders seem a bit squishy–because the community is spread out and you might come across small home-based businesses while you’re traveling the area–but most of the action is concentrated in Holmes, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties. Some would argue some other nearby counties should be included, but it appears to me the options are limited. If you’re making a short trip I recommend starting with Holmes county, where towns like Berlin, Walnut Creek and Charm are packed with things to see and do.

What is there to do?

There really is something for everyone. Shoppers, crafters, nature lovers, history buffs, antiquers and foodies can find something to entertain and delight them! Here are a few highlights:


 Ohio Amish Country Lehman's in Kidron OhioLehman’s General Store in Kidron – If they don’t have it, you don’t need it!

I would say shopping is the primary reason people go to Amish Country (nudging eating out by a nose). I saw too many shops to name them all, but here were a few standouts:

  • Lehman’s General Store – They have everything, including the kitchen sink! From hardware, to cooking gear, books, cleaning supplies, old-timey candy and sundries they have pretty much everything you need to live a simple life (or look like you do). You can spend hours browsing this shopping compound.
  • Swiss Valley Furniture – I got a little taste of their wares in their Berlin mini showroom, but from what I can see they offer a sturdy, handcrafted furniture at an affordable price. I was so impressed, when I upgrade to a new bed I’ll consider them for a new headboard.
  • Sol’s – Need a craft fix? Sol’s in Berlin can fulfill that. It’s a craft mall that features the offerings of individual crafters.
  • Berlin Village Antique Mall – I love wandering antique malls. I’m never looking for anything in particular, but I love looking at “everyday” items that people used in bygone eras and try to imagine what it would be like to use them.
  • Miller’s Dry Goods – If you’re a quilter or sewer, Miller’s Dry Goods is the place to be. Yards and yards of options.
  • The Ashery Country Store – I’ll be honest, I had low expectations when I entered this store. It just looked like a small local grocery store. Then I found the bulk spices section. So many things I’ve been wanting to try in my cooking, but I’ve resisted because they’re a bit pricey. At the Ashery I could get at least four times the amount for the same price. They also grind their own peanuts in-house for the freshest peanut butter experience you’ve ever had.
  • Walnut Creek Cheese – Don’t let the name fool you. This is a full-on food market with a deli, bakery and bulk food/spices. It’s dangerous to shop there on an empty stomach, so you may want to stop over at their cafe and have a snack before you shop.

If you’ve got some nature lovers in your group, fall is a great time to go for a leisurely drive through Ohio Amish Country. The sprawling farms are surrounded by wooded areas that are in full fall color explosion right now. If you want to get out of the car and take a nature walk try these options:

  • Secrest Arboretum and Gardens – You can do a self-guided walk or they offer various guided theme walks throughout the year–and it’s free!
  • The Wilderness Center – A non-profit nature preserve and nature education center, you can stroll nearly 10 miles of trails. When you’re tired of walking, there is also a planetarium in the education center.
  • Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area – You can explore nearly 6,000 acres of protected marsh and look for wildlife such as deer and otters. It’s also a notable birding area with many species of waterfowl and songbirds using the marsh as a migratory area.

So, you’ve emptied your wallet and stretched your legs (or you want to avoid those things). How about expanding your knowledge of the region’s history?

  • Zoar Village – This village was settled in 1817 by a group of German immigrants fleeing religious persecution. The village is known as one of the most successful communal settlements in American history, stop by and learn how it earned that reputation.
  • Victorian House Museum/Holmes County Historical Society – A 28-room Victorian era mansion houses a collection of Victoriana and items illustrating the history of Holmes county.

Amish Country Ohio Kidron Berlin

As you can see, there are lots of things to see and do in Ohio Amish Country–and I barely scratched the surface! Why not plan a trip and discover something new?

Know someone planning a trip to Ohio Amish Country? Why not make their trip planning a little easier and share this post? It’s a breeze to do so! Simply use one of the sharing buttons below (Note: If you’re reading this via e-mail or reader, you’ll need to link to our website to use the sharing buttons).

Cold comfort food

What's on your shopping list when you have a cold

Image credit: chicken noodle soup by stu_spivack on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

You know the feeling. You’re minding your own business, when all of a sudden you realize your throat is a little scratchy. Not longer after this realization, you remember you have been a little sneezier than usual in the cubicle farm. Then you know. You are the next victim of the plague that’s been going around the office: You have a cold.

You know what’s going to happen next. Within the next 24 hours you’re going to feel awful. In 24 hours your two best friends are going to be a box of facial tissues and a container to throw the used ones away in. So, you start the list of things you’re going to get at the store on the way home: facial tissues, decongestant, pain reliever, saline nasal spray.

You also know that you’re probably not going to be able to leave the house for several days and you’re not going to want to do much cooking. What do you add to your list?

Well a few days ago when I got that old familiar feeling, here was the list I made:

  • Chicken noodle soup. In a can. Anyone who claims they take chicken carcasses they keep in their freezer for just such an occasion and make a fresh batch of chicken broth for soup is a damn liar because everyone knows you don’t have the energy to comb your hair when you’re sick, let alone do culinary wrangling. (Or that person is Martha Stewart, and what she really means when she says she makes from scratch chicken soup when she’s sick is, “I have my staff make me a fresh batch of chicken soup when I’m sick.”)
  • Jell-O. Ready to eat in those cute little cups. Preferably something in the red flavor category. (Feverish side note: I remember my mom making us drink warm Jell-O water when we were sick on the advice of our pediatrician. Anyone else do that? No, just us? Moving on…)
  • Mashed potatoes. Instant. Warm, salty and sore-throat soothing. Bonus: This meal takes less than five minutes from dinner to nap.
  • Mac ‘n’ cheese. In a microwavable cup with a dried cheese packet inside. For when you’ve reached the next step in the recovery process and you need to chew your food or you’ll go crazy (but nothing too hard because your throat is still too ouchy).

What about you? What are your go-to sick time foods? I’m on the mend but I’m open to expanding my simple carb repertoire for the next time around!