Local Love

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theodore roosevelt

Local Travel, Shop Small

“A Slice of Time”


Time is one of those things we never seem to have enough of; a rare commodity and a fleeting luxury that seems to slip right through our fingers as fast as we find it. How many times a day do you find yourself saying, “I don’t have time to… fill in the blank.” We race from work, from errands, from football practice and grocery stores and get home just in time to scroll through Instagram to see the friends we don’t have time to see in real life. We pull up Facebook only to ask ourselves, “How do they find the time to… fill in the blank.” We all find ourselves wishing for a chance to slow down. To stop time. To relax. To fill in that blank.

Pictured here: Our Grandma Doris and Grandpa Louie on their honeymoon in Clifty Falls, Indiana. Doesn’t everyone hike in pearls? 

We love to see the pictures stashed away in albums at our grandparents’ houses. Long weekends at Hueston Woods, day trips to Mammoth Cave. Our Grandma Doris and Grandpa Louie even went to Clifty Falls, Indiana for their honeymoon. Not exactly the kinds of trips you see newlyweds taking today. So in an effort to bring back the simplicity of the “staycation,” we went searching for local bed & breakfasts and stumbled upon just what we had in mind, Sycamore Farms Country Inn.

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Cherryl’s Kitchen: We weren’t just drooling over the food. Is this not a little piece of heaven? We couldn’t take our eyes off of her island, which is actually an antique carpenter’s bench.

We took a 35 minute drive to visit and were greeted at the door by Cherryl Forte, and her curly, canine companion, Dolly. The smell of sausage sizzling in an orange juice and cranberry sauté also met us at the door. We rounded the corner into her beautiful, new-but-charmingly-antique kitchen and immediately felt at home. Sugary strawberries, whipped cream and chocolate chips sat atop a heap of chocolate Belgian-style waffles on Cherryl’s floral china accompanied by napkins, held in place by engraved antique silver rings. Another platter held fresh egg omelets and sat beside a basket of muffins and breads still warm from the oven.

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Chocolate on chocolate waffles = Heaven on Earth
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“It’s the little things that I find so cute,” Cherryl said of the tiny details throughout her home.

Cherryl not only prides herself on her cooking, but makes it look easy. We’re fairly certain that if we tried to host a couple bloggers for breakfast, talk about her bed & breakfast and cook at the same time, that same bed & breakfast would be up in flames in no time. It didn’t take long to realize how much the three of us have in common. Not only did we all love waffles and hot coffee, but we’re also antique junkies. We shared our finds, favorite pieces and hidden-gem shops where we get all our goodies. When we asked her where she finds all her larger pieces for the house she said, “if the house wants it, the house finds it.” Each piece has certainly made itself at home with Cherryl and looks as if it was placed there the day the house was built.

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Our love of vintage treasures led us around the house as she told us about the bed & breakfast and her favorite antique pieces in each room and where she picked them up. She guided us through the historic home telling stories of her childhood, and of the home itself. Cherryl inherited the home when it was in need of some serious love and, being a woman after our own heart, “patched it up to put it back on its feet to go another 100 years.” She wants people to familiarize themselves with the agrarian lifestyle, to slow down and enjoy her “little slice of time.” Visitors can have their coffee while they watch tractors bailing hay or enjoying somewhere so quiet “you can hear the creek in the distance.”

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Sycamore Farms Country Inn wasn’t always an inn. In fact, in the 1800-1900s, the farm functioned as a lumber and grain mill. Its purple barn welcomes visitors to the Century Farm as the gravel road guides them to the front door. There are four bedrooms available for reservations. Two smaller rooms that belonged to Cherryl’s cousins perfect for a private getaway, and two larger, adjacent suites (may be made into adjoining rooms for larger groups) with perfectly decorated bathrooms, fluffy white robes and a window overlooking the farm, making it the perfect country escape.


Passion, Family and Crazy Good Pastries: A Visit to The Almond Sisters Bakery

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Yesterday we accidentally had cookies for lunch. Sure we had plans to have a “light lunch,” but when you stop into one of your favorite bakeries around lunch time, those good-intentioned plans for a salad go by the wayside. A quiche appetizer. A croissant to get started. Followed by a brownie wrapped in a chocolate chip cookie … and likely the start to 3+ cavities later, we left in a cloud of sugar-induced bliss. Absolute bliss, I tell you.

Allow us to introduce you to the chocolate chip geode. AKA: heaven on earth

We spent nearly an hour with Jenni and Brandi, the owners of The Almond Sisters Bakery in downtown Hamilton, OH. (…by the way, if you’ve never spent an hour in a bakery – we would like to strongly recommend it. Breathing in warm sugar for 60 minutes is good for the soul.) Two sisters who share a passion for pastries and, more importantly, family. In fact, that’s where The Almond Sisters got their start.

Where it all started: their almond twist and thumbprint cookies pictured here among other tasty treats

When their go-to coffee shop discontinued their beloved almond twist pastries, they decided to start making their own. This lead to a booth at the Hamilton Farmers Market to raise extra money for their families. They sold a variety of handmade items, breastfeeding covers, cloth diapers, Jenni’s husbands spice rub….and pastries. After a while, they realized their baked goods were becoming their best seller and thought, “this could be something.”
“Something” turned into a quaint and quirky little bakery about 2 years ago and has quickly become a staple in the renovation project of downtown Hamilton. Located in a historic building that was once a lawyer’s office, a banquet hall and finally, Pedro’s Mexican Restaurant, The Almond Sisters Bakery is now housed in what was part of the façade removal celebration in Hamilton several years ago. The stark green façade being removed to reveal the original building’s true beauty.

As we sat with Jenni and Brandi, several regulars came in, and were greeted by first name. “Miss Denise,” a local artist who has developed a relationship with Jenni and Brandi and their family, sat in the corner sipping her coffee for the majority of our visit. Another frequent visitor came in with the promise of bringing a small gift for Jenni’s boys next week. It’s quite evident that they sincerely care for their customers and that building a sense of community is very important to them.
While they are passionate about what they do, putting in more than 80 hours a week, their advice for hopeful entrepreneurs is that “it’s not about the money. It’s doing what you love and always put your family first.”

Their family first approach has led them to make a few changes to their business hours in the coming weeks. They will now be closed on Sunday AND Monday beginning after Labor Day weekend, but fear not friends, you can still dive into one of their pastry pillows Tuesday-Friday (8am – 6pm) and Saturdays (9am – 2pm).
You may be wondering “What is their secret to sugary success?” While you won’t find any recipes here, their goodies are truly a labor of love. “Everything is made by hand. Our almond twist, our best seller, has more than 324 folds. The pastry pillow has 81 folds. All folded by hand. Our husbands’ business, Unsung Salvage, made all of our light fixtures, shelving and our display case.”

Industrial whisk light fixtures made by Unsung Salvage, also in Hamilton


For our pumpkin-everything lovers … they’re unleashing all of their pumpkin treats on September 1st. You can bet we will be first in line for a pumpkin pastry pillow (say that 9 times fast.) … and pumpkin muffin … and thumbprint cookies … and a birthday cake geode….and….


A Visit with Sara from Sara’s House in Hamilton, OH


There is so much to love about our sleepy little hometown. The history. The architecture. The everybody-knows-everybody small town feel without really being a small town. There is a sense of community among its inhabitants that can be seen throughout; from the impressive turnout at the Antique Car or 4th of July parades to the “I believe in Hamilton” t-shirts on the backs of those behind the revitalization of downtown. It’s a quirky little city with its own personality – and we’re proud to call it home.

We hope you’ll join us as we explore some of the people and events behind the downtown makeover in the next few months, but for now we’d like to introduce you to one of our favorite little shops that always seems to have just what we’re looking for: Sara’s House.

Located on High Street (in the old “Hungry Bunny” restaurant space) is a little treasure owned by Sara Vallandingham. A Nashville native turned Hamilton believer and a girl after our own heart. Take a step inside her store and you’ll see why. Every corner holds a little piece of history. In fact, even the building itself has a great story – but we’ll get there in a moment.

Let’s begin with what they’re known for … her modern-meets-memory-lane take on lamps and lighting. She and her husband have turned things like antique radios, car parts, even old milkshake blenders into the perfect antique touch for any room in your house.

Among the small gifts, candles and antique or refinished items available in her store is a beautiful and well loved antique piano. (The neatest part – it belonged to her grandmother who raised a family from its black and white keys – a World War II widow who made extra money by giving piano lessons.) It is big and beautiful and is the perfect nostalgic centerpiece for her store.

Charm runs throughout the entire space, and doesn’t stop with its owner. While talking about our shared love for meeting and new people through pursuing a dream. Sara gave us some great advice. “Its not always about the numbers. Sometimes its about community.” Sara’s House is part of the “Alive After 5” series in Hamilton. She wants to encourage everyone to put tomorrow’s event “Under the Sea” on their calendar and bring the family along for a scavenger hunt, coconut bowling and lots of family fun. Alive After 5 is held every first Thursday of the month from 5pm – 9pm and features crafts, music, great food and of course – shopping!

Check out some highlights from our interview below:

SJD: Why Hamilton?
My storefront used to be in bridgewater. When the building on High street went up for sale we thought we’d give it a try, and I love it. It has a wonderful sense of community.
SJD: Do you know the history of your building? 
Most recently is was a bail bondsman, before that is was a restaurant . During the flood it was a cigar shop, But in the 30s it was a dance studio.
SJD: Did you find anything while renovating?
The coolest thing was a cardboard box filled with a bunch of dance tickets and some dance shoes, from when the room was a dance studio. I framed all of those tickets actually.
SJD: What do you look for?
I look for anything. Our signature items have become our lamps.
You’ll find on the Sara’s House website that the joy that she experiences every day in her quaint corner boutique is her “own kind of fulfilling happiness.” It was at that moment that 3 customers walked in and were greeted by that same welcoming smile that we were welcomed by just 30 minutes prior. We encourage everyone to take the time to visit and to bring Sara’s House to your house.