Merry Christmas


I’m taking off for the week to go visit the fam in Florida.  Usually I really look forward to this trip, but we have had such a bright and warm December up here—not sure going south will make much difference!

I’ll be back with more Getting Bent posts in the new year.  In the meantime, wishing you and yours a peaceful and joyful holiday season.  And as always, we here at the blog are grateful that you are part of our community.  Looking forward to many more adventures in 2016…



Iechyd Da

IMG_3950Iechyd Da wins the awards for (1) hardest restaurant name to pronounce and (2) best pizza and beer joint in Elkhart (and easily a top contender for the region).  The correct pronunciation—according to their website—is “yah-key-da”, but if you call it that nobody will really know what you are talking about.  Best to go with the proper Midwestern pronunciation: “eychee daa”.  No matter how you say it, it is absolutely worth the short drive from the Bend.

IMG_3951Some friends and I went their for post-work dinner last Friday.  The beers were fantastic—I had their porter, but everything was sampled was high quality.  We split an order of the Bread of St David—cheesy garlic bread which disappeared in a matter of minutes.  And then we split two pizzas, the Simple Tenby and the Swansea.  Both were delicious, but I’d recommend going for more toppings.

Iechyd Da has a great local vibe.  It is seat yourself, and the Friday we went, it was packed.  The waitstaff are incredibly friendly and stand by their food.  If you are looking for a laid-back Friday night dinner spot, with good beer and a lot of local color, I’d put it on your rotation.  I’ll definitely be back soon.


PS: Spelling errors the first time.  Serves me right for posting on my phone!


Sawyer Garden Center

A dinosaur foot stocking and advent calendar.

A dinosaur foot Christmas stocking and advent calendar.

One of my favorite places to go shopping in the area is the Sawyer Garden Center, which is located next door to Greenbush Brewery in Sawyer, MI. Despite the fact that I don’t like to garden, I greatly enjoy wandering the aisles at the Sawyer Garden Center.

The name the “Sawyer Garden  Center” is a bit misleading. Yes, it serves as a garden center. It has a big greenhouse filled with awesome house plants; It has rows of Christmas trees in the winter and outdoor plants in the summer. But, it also has kitchen items, home goods, candles, bath products, clothing, a food market, and a pretty great liquor and wine section.

There are typically lots of food samples. Anywhere with food samples gets a lot of points in my book (like Costco and Whole Foods). Last time I was a the market, I sampled plum pudding, cookies, cheese, punch and bruscetta…not to mention wine…they have free wine tasting.

The greenhouse

The greenhouse

It’s a great place to find a unique gift; there’s something for everyone. If you’re spending a weekend near the Lake, the food market sells a bunch of unique snacks for the beach. Next time you plan to get a pint at Greenbush or enjoy dinner at Fitzgerald’s, stop at the Sawyer Garden Market for some shopping fun.


Vickers Theater

I’d been wanting to see Suffragette for   awhile now, but I’d been waiting for the right opportunity.  I mean, it is the kind of film you want to see with a big audience who is just as pumped up about enfranchisement as you are.  I knew I’d want folks to talk about it with me. Yesterday the stars aligned when I noticed it was playing at the Vickers.  I hopped in the car and cruised up to Three Oaks for the matinee.

IMG_3970Vickers Theater is Three Oaks’ one-screen wonder of a cinema.  They show contemporary film, art house, and oldies.  This screening of Suffragette was packed (I even ran into the bartender from Tapastrie, who was there with his friends).  The film—like others at Vickers—started with a short talk.  In this case the focus was on the history of the suffrage movement in the UK and US.  Prizes were given out for audience members knowing trivia, like which state first gave women the vote.  (Wyoming)  And there was a discussion of why there aren’t more films starring, directed, and produced by women.  By the time we got to the opening credits, the audience was pumped.

Vickers is a real treasure—bringing people together to enjoy an important art form.  And while I love my Netflix account, nothing beats the experience of being in a packed theater, sharing the big screen.

IMG_3966After your movie, I highly recommend stopping at the Pleasant House bakery across the street.  Grab a pint of their in-house beer, a meat pie, or a pastie and argue with your neighbors about Third Wave feminism.


Sarett Nature Center


Sarett Nature Center

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to explore the Sarett Nature Center in Benton Harbor, MI, on the way to the the St. Joseph Reindog Parade. (Yes, as the name suggests, the Reindog Parade is a parade of dogs dressed in reindeer and holiday costumes leading Santa and Ms. Claus into downtown St. Joe.)

I had never been to the Sarett Nature Center before, and it was  a great place to walk around. There are eight miles of trails that wind through bluffs, wetlands, prairie, and forest. We started on the River Trail – a mile-long path to a river lookout point. Most of the walk was through wetlands where we walked over boardwalks and bridges to get to our destination. It was a great place to watch birds – we saw a ton – and we also saw evidence of both hawks and owls. We finished with two smaller loops – the Gentian Trail and Tamarack Trail – that took us through more marshes and past several ponds.


River Trail

In addition to a variety of trails, Sarett also has a tree top viewing platform that overlooks the park and a great nature center that hosts many events. You can see turtle, snakes, rabbits, and other animals up close in the nature center. In the summer, there’s also a large butterfly house. It would be a great place to bring children.

I highly recommend Sarett for the nature enthusiast, or for anyone who simply enjoys a scenic walk.



River Trail Viewing Platform

The Electric Brew

Goshen has great biking (The Pumpkinvine!), great pizza (Venturi…speaking of which, we need a post on them…) and it also has one of my favorite regional coffee shops: The Electric Brew.  Situated next to Ignition Garage (a great music venue!…also post worthy….), Electric Brew is the funky, always-busy-but-amply-tabled, hangout spot downtown.  They make a completely respectable Americano.  They also have an ever-changing menu of sandwiches, soups and fresh baked goods.  Feeling crunchy?  There are also some great vegetarian selections on the rotation.

Where Electric Brew truly shines is atmosphere.  As I said, it has ample space, with lots of tables, couches, and even an art room in back.  It’s a genuine community coffee shop—Goshen College students in PJs sitting next to city workers on their lunch break, and, yes, from time to time an ND professor drops in to lockdown for an afternoon of edits on a paper.  It feels busy but not rushed.  Definitely worth the quick ride from the Bend for a coffee catchup with a friend, an afternoon of writing or studying, or as part of a longer afternoon/evening enjoying all that Goshen has to offer.


West Washington (or Near West Side) Historic Neighborhood

Every time I drive down West Washington Street, just west of downtown South Bend, I’m amazed at the stunning architecture. When I saw that Downtown South Bend (DTSB) was hosting a Holiday Historic Walking Tour featuring the Near West Side Historic Neigborhood, also know as the West Washington Neighborhood, on Sunday, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to learn more about some of the incredible buildings and homes that call downtown South Bend their home.

Rose Morey Lampert House

The staircase at the Rose Morey Lampert House

The Near West Side Neighborhood has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975. According to the Near West Side Historic Neighborhood website, the neighborhood is bordered by West LaSalle, Main, Western, and McPhearson Streets. The unique architecture is what sets the neighborhood apart from other neighborhoods in South Bend. As the website explains, “The rich architectural heritage of the neighborhood includes examples of all the major styles of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century — Greek RevivalItalianateQueen AnneStickShinglePrairie (including Frank Lloyd Wright), TudorRenaissance Revival  — and the housing stock ranges from historic mansions to workers’ cottages.”

People often don’t realize that in addition to grand homes, the Near West Side Neighborhood also houses a variety of museums, businesses, a yoga studio, bed and breakfasts, and Tippecanoe Place Restaurant. You can easily spend an afternoon exploring everything the neighborhood has to offer.


Lampert House Bedroom

On the Sunday DTSB Historic Holiday Walking Tour, my friends and I had the opportunity to visit several homes and churches. The tour was self-guided, and you could pick up a map at any of the ten locations. Many of the homes on the Holiday Walking Tour are not open to the public on a regular basis since they serve as businesses or private residences.

We started at the Rose Morey Lampert house at 322 West Washington Street. Today, the house has been restored and is used as a vacation rental (this would be an incredible place to stay with a large group of friends – there were at least six bedrooms). The home was built in  1893, is an example of the Queen Anne style, and has a stained glass window that won an award at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.


Christmas in the Remedy Building

The second stop was the Remedy Building at 402 West Washington Street. Built in 1895, it’s also an example of Queen Anne architecture, and originally housed the South Bend Remedy Company, a mail order pharmaceutical company. The building is now home to the Northern Regional Office of Indiana Landmarks as well as the Dhanwantari Yoga Center.

Our third stop was at the Good House at 420 West Washington St., which houses an organization that provides services for individuals with Autism. This building is stunning inside and includes original hand painted wallpaper in the dining room, beautiful tiled fireplaces, and impressive leaded glass built-in bookcases.

After the Good House, we walked another block to Tippecanoe Place. If you haven’t been there for dinner or brunch, it’s definitely worth a visit, especially at this time of year when they have elaborate holiday decorations. Tippecanoe Place was originally the home of Clement Studebaker and has 40 rooms and 20 fireplaces. The mahogany grand staircase and entryway as well as the third floor ballroom are quite the sights.


Oliver Inn Sitting Room

Once we finished touring the four stories of Tippecanoe Place, we walked next door to the Oliver Inn, a bed and breakfast. The Queen Anne home was originally built as a gift for James Oliver’s daughter in 1896. The bathrooms alone, most with claw foot bath tubs or jacuzzis (obviously a modern upgrade),  made me want to stay here. The Inn has nine rooms for guests, all of which were very spacious and beautiful. Guests are served breakfast by candlelight each morning in front of a roaring fireplace in the dining room. I was seriously impressed by this B & B; It would definitely be a treat to spend the weekend at the Oliver Inn.


Baker House Dining Room

The last home that we visited was the Baker House at 726 West Washington Street, which is currently for sale if you’re interested in living in the neighborhood. This is the only stop on the tour that is still used as a family home. It does have some unique decor, including crab wallpaper, a hand painted mural in the dining room, and a rather trippy reading room that is painted with what appeared to be an African fabric pattern.

We stopped at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on the way back to the car, but, due to time, we decided to skip the South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center and the Notre Dame Center for Arts and Culture (NDCAC). I’ve had the opportunity to visit both of these buildings in the past, and they’re definitely worth a visit. The Civil Rights Heritage Center is in South Bend’s old Natatorium, which was segregated for many years. A visit to the Civil Rights Heritage Center is a great way to learn about the history of civil rights in South Bend and the surrounding communities. In addition to providing community and Notre Dame programming, the NDCAC also has an art gallery and print making studio.


Christmas at Tippecanoe

To make an afternoon out of visiting the Near West Side Neighborhood, have lunch at Tippecanoe Place and then walk to the South Bend History Museum to learn about South Bend’s past. The Oliver Mansion is part of the museum and the two hour guided house tour is worth the time. Connected to the Center for History is the Studebaker National Museum, where you can learn about the company that led to the growth, and subsequent decline, of South Bend. Spend the rest of your afternoon walking around the neighborhood to take in the architecture. If time permits, stop at the NDCAC and Civil Rights Heritage Center. If you need a good stretch after your walk, throw in a yoga class and the Dhanwantari Center.



The first time I went to Barcelona, I was in my early twenties and road tripping around Spain with my friend Ruth Anne, Jake and Lisa.  I was a really picky eater at that phase in my life and subsisted mostly on grilled shrimp and baguettes with Nutella.  Happily, my palate has grown significantly since then and I’ve had opportunities to go back and sample all the tapas and pinxtos I missed the first time around.

South Bend has never had a proper Spanish restaurant… until now.  Some friends and I headed to try out DTSB’s newest restaurant—Tapastrie—this past weekend.  It is awesome.  It may be my new favorite restaurant downtown.  I am certainly plotting my next opportunity to go back.

IMG_3922Why love Tapastrie (besides the great pun in the name)?  They have an incredible spread of hot and cold tapa options including the classics—jamon iberico (acorn-fed Iberian ham), paella with fresh mussels and shrimp, beautifully bright olives, all sorts of mediterranean spreads.  (And lots of mediterranean fusion.)  They have grilled shrimp, so you can bring your picky friends.  They also have a few specialties, like the chorizo wrapped stuffed dates.  We ordered one plate of these.  Then two.  Then three.  I could’ve eaten a dozen.  The lamb kebabs were delicious.  Bacalao cakes fried to crispy perfection.  If I only had one menu suggestion it is that they adopt a version of the Spanish classic—pan con tomate (toast bread with raw garlic and smashed tomato).  Our table was desperately bread hungry and went through three servings of pita.

Tapastrie has two options for pairing your tapas with wines: you can order bottles for the table, or you can serve yourself using a card-dispenser system which was a bit confusing and then dangerous.  Still the latter is great, especially if you’d like to design your own flight.  The cocktails are as good as anywhere in the region, and we agreed that their old fashioned was the best we’d had.  IMG_3921

Tapastrie is 21 and up, as you might imagine given the extensive serve yourself wine situation.  So leave the kids at home.  It is a bit pricey, but worth every Euro… er dollar.


Jeannie’s House Diner



One of my weekend rituals is to go out to breakfast on Sunday mornings. Breakfast or brunch – and a hell of a lot of coffee – coaxes me out of my sleep-induced haze and provides me with the necessary fuel to accomplish my list of boring Sunday errands.

One of my favorite places in South Bend to enjoy breakfast is Jeannie’s House Diner, located at the corner of Twyckenham and Mishawaka Avenue. It’s a super cozy place, and the majority of the restaurant consists of a large diner counter with stools overlooking the grill. The counter is usually filled with patrons who have been dining at Jeannie’s for years – you can tell by the friendly banter between staff and customers. I’m always entertained and amazed watching the cook master the grill.

My parents experiencing Jeannie's

My parents experiencing Jeannie’s

Jeannie’s has all of the typical diner breakfast (and lunch) staples on the menu, and they also have a list of specials each day. I LOVE the Mexican Skillet with jalepeno sausage and gravy, which frequently appears on the list of specials. I also like their regular breakfasts – eggs, bacon, toast/biscuit and hash browns or American fries – the potatoes and bacon are always cooked to perfection.

Because of the counter seating and the fact that there’s only a couple of small tables, Jeannie’s can be a bit of a challenge to get seating for more than two people; however, if you’re breakfasting with only a significant other or friend, or it’s later in the day, you likely won’t have a problem grabbing seats.

Jeannie’s is open from 6 am to 2 pm Monday – Saturday and 8 am to 2 pm on Sunday. It’s a great place to check out for good food and a true Indiana diner experience.