Hendricks County: Holiday Fun & Then Some

Danville, Indiana

Last weekend I had the privilege of spending the weekend with the super-cheerful, ever-accomodating staff behind Visit Hendricks County.  They organized a two-day holiday-themed tour to show bloggers and travel writers some of the highlights of the place they live and work.  And they should be super-cheerful, as this county just west of Indianapolis has so many cool and fun things to show off.

Maybe you remember that I did a similar tour of Hendricks county once before.  That one started out super fun, but didn’t end so well.  I’m a little surprised they wanted me back, but I did pinky-promise not to barf on anyone.  I even got to give my sweet sister a do-over tour.  I’m pleased to report that I made it through this year’s tour vomit-free, and I couldn’t wait any longer to share some of my favorite photos and highlights of the tour with you.

We started out in Martinsville (which is technically Morgan County, but whatever.  The folks at Visit Hendricks County are so nice they want to show you ALL THE COUNTIES!), at the Martinsville Candy Kitchen.   I don’t know how I didn’t know about this place, but I can tell you it will be a Six Family Holiday Tradition from henceforth.  They’ve been hand-making candy canes, using the same copper pot and marble table since 1919.  It takes them 3 hours to make 150 candy canes, so  it’s truly a labor of love.  They make 33 flavors of cane, but in November and December they only make peppermint and cinnamon to keep up with demand.  They are beautiful and delicious.

Martinsville Candy Kitchen Candy Canes

We spent the rest of the afternoon browsing in some stores, including Mooresville Open Market Antiques.  Someone thought it would be a grand idea to give us wine while we shopped.  Let me ponder this for a bit … good idea?

Mooresville Open Market Antiques

I think yes.

We rounded out the evening with a great meal at Zydeco’s.  The chef is a New Orleans native, who found himself in Indiana thanks to a girl he loved.  I’m going to find myself at Zydeco’s more often, too, thanks to some fried catfish I loved – the best I’ve had since my Nashville days.

Zydeco's, Mooresville, Indiana

The next morning we revisited some favorites from the last tour: the 43rd Annual Tri Kappa Gingerbread Christmas and the Mayberry Cafe.  I love the assortment of vendors at the juried market, including these German Baptist women making the most beautiful wreaths to order.  And the fried chicken at the Mayberry Cafe just may be the best I’ve had in Indiana.

Tri Kappa Gingerbread Christmas

After lunch we were treated to a reading of Hoosier author Philip Gulley’s holiday story, “Clarence the Christmas Camel” by none other than his lovely wife, Joan.  As she read, we stuffed ourselves with homemade goodies from The Bread Basket, including a French Silk pie, snickerdoodle cake, white chocolate peppermint cake, and my personal favorite, peanut butter pie.

The Bread Basket Peanut Butter Pie

A few miles down the road is Beasley’s Orchard, featured in Indianapolis Monthly magazine’s “50 Things Every Hoosier Must Do!”  They’re best known for their Heartland Apple Festival, held in October (and site of our family’s near-breakdown in their corn maze), but they’re open year round.  Looking for cut apple wood?  This is your place (and it makes a great smelling fire). We also had a chance to sample their award-winning cider.

Beasley's Orchard Apple Cider

We finished the weekend in the most perfect way – sampling beers at Avon’s Cutters Brewing Company. They were new to me, but I’m happy to have another local brew to choose, whether I’m out for a pint or dropping by to fill up a growler. I was thrilled to hear they have plans to can their craft beer soon … perfect for the pool or for shower beers.

Cutters Brewing Company Beer

Whether you’re looking for a simple activity or a weekend full of fun, you’ll find something to love in and around Hendricks County. Keep up with all the happenings in Hendricks County by following their blog. If you have any questions, the folks at Visit Hendricks County are always happy to help. And after spending a weekend with them I can assure you they’ll whip up a perfect itinerary for you, too.

Many thanks to Visit Hendricks County for hosting me on the Ho Ho Ho FAM Tour.


Fortville, Indiana: Charm Right in My Backyard

Fortville Water Tower

It happens to me time and time again. Somebody will mention a town or region in Indiana and I will give them the blank face. Doesn’t matter that I’ve spent 24 years of my life as Hoosier … there are still so many parts of Indiana that I either haven’t visited or don’t know well. What baffles me the most is when that place is in my backyard.

Fortville, Indiana Main Street

Fortville is one such town. From my front door to Fortville’s charming Main Street is 11 miles. I’ve driven farther for fried chicken! Thankfully Fortville Mama knew what a treasure her town is, and invited several Indianapolis area bloggers to see for themselves via a progressive tour of the town.

We started off at Java Junction & Indy Block Party (222 S. Main Street). Part coffee shop, part entertainment center for kids, 100% a wonderful idea. The coffee shop serves all kinds of delicious beverages and sweet treats. Elena and I were partial to the German Chocolate Latte and pumpkin muffins. Accessible through the coffee shop is Indy Block Party. There are inflatables available for bouncing while you enjoy some coffee. The inflatables are also available for rental. On the other side of the coffee shop is a fun area for older kids and adults filled with all kinds of retro video games and pinball machines.

Latte and muffin

As hard as it was to pull the kids away, we moved on down the street to Indulge ( 10 S. Main Street). This adorable restaurant and sweets shop was once home to a general store. Now it’s fabulously decorated and ready to host you for some amazing treats. While there are a variety of soups, sandwiches and desserts to choose from, you must try their signature treat, the Pink Elephant, at least once. We were served mini versions, made of strawberry ice cream, strawberry sauce, soda, whipped cream and rock candy. The one on the menu is HUGE and made for an entire family to enjoy … for only $6! What a sweet way to spend some family time together.

Pink Elephant, Indulge

We also visited the Ten West Center for the Arts (10 W. Church Street), which hosts arts programs for adults and youth year-round, including art, music and dance lessons, as well as community theater. There is also a small art gallery inside, giving you an opportunity to appreciate local artists as well as purchase unique pieces for an affordable price.

We then drove a few miles down the road to Piney Acres Farm (1115 E. 1000N). We’d been here before as a family a few years ago to pick pumpkins. I didn’t realize that Piney Acres is also a Christmas tree farm. The property is beautiful, with a wide variety of trees. I love that you can choose your tree while picking your pumpkins! They’ll mark it for you so that when the holidays arrive, all you have to do is show up and enjoy the scenery and hot chocolate. They’ll cut your tree, wrap it, and get it to your car for you.

Piney Acres Christmas Tree Farm

There are lots of fun activities in store for families this fall at Piney Acres, though. There’s the pumpkin patch, of course, but there’s also gem mining, a corn maze, hayrides, a play area, and the Haunted Loft (if you dare!).

We will definitely include Fortville in our places to visit when we need a fun diversion. And we’ll certainly return on December 7th for their annual Winter Festival, complete with a parade, ice sculputures, zipline and a flyover by none other than Santa! Many thanks to Fortville Mama for hosting us!


Adventurous Eaters Unite! {Dig IN 2013 Ticket Giveaway}

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to the winner, Kellie!



This post is sponsored by Indiana’s Family of Farmers, who provided compensation as well as tickets to Dig IN.



Dig IN Using Local Meats

Nearly 20 years ago, when I said “Yes!” to Mike’s marriage proposal under the Upham Arch at Miami University, I wasn’t thinking about whether or not he was a picky eater.  It’s impossible to tell, really, what a person’s true food preferences are in college.  I loved lobster, but did I have the cash to buy it for myself?  And so Mike and I subsisted on the same things, really: cafeteria food, pizza, cheap boxes of mac-n-cheese.

It was only after we were first married and I started shopping and cooking from (what seemed at the time) a bountiful food budget that I realized I’d married a picky eater.  And me?  I’m the polar opposite of a picky eater.  I will try any food once.  Snails? Loved them.  Bone marrow?  Pretty good.  Liver?  Meh.  And then there’s my husband, who I once recall having a burger with lettuce, onion, tomato and pickle delivered to him at a restaurant after he specifically ordered it undressed.  “Get this donkey slaw off of here!” I believe I quote him correctly (thank the good Lord this gem was only uttered to the guests at our table, not the waitress).

The thing is, I love him dearly, whether he’s a fan of donkey slaw or not.  Over the years his repertoire has widened, and he is always gracious about the food served to him, always willing to go anywhere with me even if it’s just to watch me eat.  But we are not, and never will be, a couple who eats adventurously and tries new restaurants like my friend Erin of Indianapolis Restaurant Scene.

Dig IN Local Produce

That brings me to why I really look forward to Dig IN, an annual event in Indianapolis that showcases our wonderful restaurants, chefs, and the Hoosier farmers that provide some of the protein for the event.  There are so many restaurants I would probably never make it to for a full meal, like Cerulean or Joseph Decuis.  There are so many dishes that I would never get to try, like the amazing Walking Tacos with goat from Goose the Market.  Mike stays home with the kids, I bring along an adventurous friend, and we eat amazing stuff and wash it all down with Indiana craft beer.  Everyone’s happy.

Now it’s my turn to make you happy!  This year’s Dig IN will take place Sunday, August 25th from noon to 5 p.m. at White River State Park.  Indiana’s Family of Farmers, who will be honored to provide meat for the several chefs, would like for you to experience this phenomenal event.  Thanks to them, I have 2 tickets to give away to one lucky reader.  It’s a quick giveaway, but it’s an easy one.  Here’s what you need to do to enter:

  1. Visit the Dig IN website and then leave a comment here telling me the restaurant, brewery or winery you’re most excited to sample at this year’s event.
  2. For an additional entries, tweet and/or share this giveaway on Twitter and/or Facebook.  Leave a comment below telling me you did so.  Please note, a tweet or Facebook share counts as one entry.  If you choose to do both, leave 2 separate comments so both of your shares count as an entry!

The giveaway will end at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, August 14, 2013.  Winner will be notified via email and have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.

Tickets to the event are available on the Dig IN website.  If you don’t win, buy your tickets soon!  Quantities are limited and the event sold out last year.  Good luck, and I hope to see you there!


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