Erasmus Books

On Saturday, my friend Kris was in town from Syracuse.  He did some of his own research on South Bend before arriving, and asked if we could go to a cool used book store called Erasmus.  I’d never been — honestly I had no idea where it was. But I am always game for adventure.  After pulling it up on Google maps, I realized it is right down the street from my house…

Erasmus Books is a nondescript house on East Wayne Street in Sunnymede.  Inside IMG_5065.JPGthere are miles of well-curated used books on narrow shelves.  We lingered in the philosophy section, where Kris stocked up on some rare finds.  They have a great selection and most of the books were in fantastic shape. Discovering Erasmus is a bit like discovering South Bend’s secret library.

Erasmus takes cash or check, and it has a laid back, family-run vibe.  Worth tracking down for some shelf-wandering and personal library development.



‘Tis the Season…

‘Tis the season for holiday fun. There are a variety of events coming up in and around downtown South Bend within the coming weeks where you’ll be able to celebrate the season (and buy some Christmas presents). Here are a few ideas to get you in the holiday spirit:

  • The theme of this month’s First Friday in South Bend, which will take place on

    Christmas decor at Tippecanoe Place

    December 2, is Downtown for the Holidays and the city and area shops will have a plethora of Christmas-themed activities lined up for the whole family, including the arrival of Santa, a tree lighting and sleigh rides. A full lineup of activities can be found on their website.

  • St. Joseph will Light Up the Bluff with Christmas lights this Friday, December 2, at 6:30 p.m.
  • The Howard Park Ice Rink will be the home of a Holiday Bazaar for the next three Saturdays (Dec 3, 10, and 17). Vendors will sell crafts and gifts.
  • Make South Bend is hosting an Urban Artisan Market this Friday and Saturday (December 2 & 3) at the J.C. Lauber Building at 504 E LaSalle in South Bend. Friday is a preview; Saturday is the full event featuring music, coffee and a variety of local artisans. If you’re in need of holiday gifts, you could also sign up for one of Make South Bend’s many craft classes and make homemade Christmas presents.
  • St. Joseph’s annual Reindog Holiday Parade is this Saturday from 4-5 p.m., beginning at Elm and State Streets in downtown St. Joe. Where else can you watch Santa being ushered in on his sleigh by dogs dressed up as reindeer? Seriously, it’s the greatest. If you want your dog to participate, judging for the costume contest will take place from 2:30-3:45 pm.
  • On Sunday, December 4, Downtown South Bend will be hosting its annual Historic Holiday Walking Tour from 1-5 p.m., where you’ll be able to explore the West Washington National Historic District. The best part about this tour is that you can see the interiors of many historic homes and businesses that typically aren’t open to the public. I went on this tour last year and highly recommend it. Read about last year’s tour here.
  • 5cab31ec-e8c5-43ee-8c4f-a48853186cf7

    A random pic of my dog (although the sweater was purchased at the Reindog Parade)

    The Morris Performing Arts Center will be hosting the Nutcracker Ballet on December 10 and 11.

  • Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at Tippecanoe Place and see the beautiful Christmas decorations throughout the former Studebaker Mansion.
  • The Toboggan Runs at Pokagon State Park are officially open and they’re AWESOME (and refrigerated so you don’t have to worry about there not being any snow). The hour and 15 minute drive to Angola is definitely worth it.
  • There’s an ice skating rink at University Park Mall this year. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own skates if possible. If not, there will be a limited number of skates available to borrow for free.
  • You can also take the South Shore Line to Chicago to see the lights on Michigan Avenue, visit Christkindlmarket, and see the giant Christmas tree at Macy’s on State Street.



Rosales Supermarket

I was recently introduced to Rosales Supermarket during Westside Wednesday, a monthly event that highlights different businesses on the westside of South Bend. As part of the festivities, Rosales had a taco truck outside of the supermarket on Western Avenue. As many of you know based on my previous posts, I’m always looking for a delicious taco, so I felt compelled to try them. The chicken tacos were really good – I may even say they are now my favorite tacos in South Bend.

What made me even more excited about Rosales Supermarket was the size of the grocery store as well as the selection of products. I love making Mexican food at home and have had some serious struggles finding certain ingredients in town. Last week, I returned to the grocery store to explore their products more in-depth and ended up taking home queso fresco, Oaxacan string cheese, red and brown mole paste, salsa verde, tostada shells and a big bag of freshly made pork and chicken tamales. My husband and I then proceeded to make a giant Mexican feast consisting of black bean tostadas with pickled red onions, tortilla soup and tamales. It was sooooo good. Our dog at the entire package of Oaxacan cheese while we weren’t looking – she also seemed to enjoy it.

There are two Rosales Supermarkets in town, which I’m assuming (perhaps incorrectly) are owned by the same people. I visited the larger location at 2812 W. Western Avenue. The other is located at 1518 S Michigan.

What is your favorite Mexican restaurant in the area?





Take a little day trip to Stover’s farm

by Jane


Just  off of exit 15 on Highway 31 in Michigan is a perfect spot to explore, shop, and enjoy an afternoon in Michigan wine country. Approximately 20 minutes from South Bend, Stover’s farm boasts a fruit market and antiques shop, all housed in a beautiful red barn. You can pick fruit yourself, or buy it ready to go in the barn. Either way, this location as just the right amount of enchantment to transport you to a vacation mindset while you wander.


Stover’s is open 9-5 on Monday through Saturdays in the summer only. It’s on my way to work, so every year, I can’t wait to see that the barn doors are open and the twinkly lights are calling my name when I drive past as the sun sets. Bad days can slip completely away, as I pick up some Amish homemade butter, and a pint of cherries—visions of a fruit and custard dessert gracing my table by 9 that night. (And if baking a pie or a tart isn’t your thing, look in the refrigerator case with the butter, you’ll find ready-to-bake fruit pies, just calling your name! You don’t even have to tell anyone that you didn’t make it yourself!)

Other food items include: homemade jams, jellies, and relishes (some really unique pickles that look amazing, but I’ve not been brave enough to try yet!).  Local honey—there is raw honey, honey with the honeycomb, and many other varieties to choose from. Dried fruits, nuts, and some locally made candies. Many delicious things!


The antiques are interspersed with locally-made craft items with a beachy theme: tall ships carved from wood, paintings of seagulls and lighthouses, and lots of beautiful driftwood mingle with lanterns and dried indian corn. There are also artisan items from around the world, like handmade jewelry and soaps. I found some cute elephant-themed journals for my sister.


Summer apples, peaches, cherries, and blackberries are now in season. Make sure to plan a trip to Stover’s this summer, and make a return trip in the fall when the pumpkins, grapes, and fall apples are ready. There will be cider. You’ll feel like a little kid again, while picking apples and smelling the ripe grapes on the vine. Then, because you’re an adult…you can feel free to end your day trip with drive around the corner to all the wineries!



Lighthouse Place Outlet Mall

Since about August of last year, I have been trying to change my sedentary ways and get in shape.  This came about partly because I found how much I love biking and wanted to be better at it.  Partly because I started writing a book about rational planning and realized I should practice what I preach.  And partly because exercising become a great way of procrastinating from working on aforementioned book.

Anyways, after a few months, I started to realize I was having a hard time fitting into my clothes.  I was feeling better and stronger, but with each passing month I was looking more like MC Hammer when I dressed up for work.hammer-pants

Whenever I am in fashion crisis mode like this, I’m grateful for the Lighthouse Place outlets out in Michigan City.  Its a 40 minute (and lovely) drive from my house.  I head up there a few times a year at least to stock up, and most recently my focus has been on dress pants for work.  They have a pretty wide variety of top brands: Brooks Brothers, Ann Taylor, and J. Crew being my go-tos.  Talbots is coming later this year.

The Michigan City outlets are also great for outdoor gear.  They have a Columbia and Eddie Bauer.  They just opened a Northface last fall, which is perpetually crowded.  You can also scope out deals on higher-end home goods (Le Creuset pots, Bose speakers, and nearly any cooking gadget you can imagine.)

IMG_4330I’ve bought everything from suits (navy Brooks Brothers—under $200) to PJ pants (Old Navy—$5) out at Lighthouse Place, and I always get a deal.  It’s also a fun day excursion with friends, especially if you combine it with lunch down by the lake.  (Perhaps Cafe Gulistan?)  With the beautiful Spring weather here, might be time to clean out your closet…


*Featured Image from Simon Malls website.

Fresh Thyme

The South Bend area is already pretty set with grocery options.  If you are in the market for bespoke sea salt, head to “Gucci” Granger Martins.  Meijer has all of your exotic produce needs covered.  Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck) is happy to trade you a bag of excellent Intelligentsia coffee for half of your paycheck.  Costco has you covered for meat and industrial sized canned goods.  The farmer’s market and Purple Porch have you covered for all things fresh and local.

So when I heard Fresh Thyme was opening a shop in Mishawaka, I was doubtful I really needed another grocery option.  (Unless someone from Trader Joe’s is reading this.  I really, really want a Trader Joe’s!)  Still, I was willing to give it a shot.


A welcoming aisle of colorful produce at Fresh Thyme.

I hereby withdraw all of my doubts.  Fresh Thyme is a great option.  I headed over last week to check it out and pick up the ingredients for West African peanut stew (recipe below).   The first thing you notice in Fresh Thyme is the unusual layout—there is loads of walking space and sections are set up more like stalls in a market place.  For anyone who gets stressed navigating their cart through the labyrinthine aisles at Meijer and Martin’s, this is already a welcome innovation.  They have a beautiful produce selection, with about double the options of Whole Foods (and just slightly fewer than Meijer).  They stock nearly every major brand of organic dry goods, and I easily found the roasted tomatoes, garbanzo beans, and spices that I needed for my stew.  On the way out, I picked up a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans, which definitely held their own with my go-to Zen or Intelligentsia beans.

I don’t know if I will make Fresh Thyme my first source for grocery shopping (I am loyal to Costco, Meijer and the farmer’s market), but I will definitely stop in whenever I am over at Bowl of Pho.  (And I am often at Bowl of Pho.)  Prices are certainly better than Whole Foods, though the latter is still one notch higher on the luxury grocery scale.  All in all, I’m very glad they are here.  Now if only we could get a TJ’s in downtown South Bend.


Peanut Stew Recipe (which didn’t quite post the first time)

  • 1 Cup Garbanzo Beans
  • 1 Enormous Sweet Potato Diced
  • 1.5 tsp Curry Powder
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala (I add more)
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 Tbs Minced Ginger
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 4 dashes cinnamon
  • 1.5 tbs Maple Syrup
  • 1 14oz can air Glen diced Tomatoes (fire roasted with chipotles kind is best)
  • 14oz Coconut Milk
  • 2 cups Vegetable Broth
  • 2 tbs Peanut Butter
  • .5 Cup Red Lentils
  • Crushed peanuts for topping.

Mix everything up.  Bring to boil.  Then let simmer for an hour and enjoy.


Ignition Music Garage

IMG_5919About 40 minutes southeast of The Bend lies Goshen, Indiana, a small town with a surprisingly large number of excellent and eclectic shops and restaurants. Not only is it home to my favorite pizza place in the region, Venturi, it also houses The Electric Brew and one of the most convenient starting points for the Pumpkinvine Bike Trail, both of which Meg featured in earlier posts. Goshen is also the site of a variety of other cool locations, including Ignition Music Garage.

Ignition Music is a music store that sells CDs and records, among other things. It’s housed in an old garage with exposed brick walls, large glass windows and a stage located in the corner.

Ignition Music moonlights as a concert venue, and brings in a variety of interesting acts from across the region and the U.S. You can check check out their full list of shows on their website.

After browsing the many racks of CDs and records, head next door to The Electic Brew for an excellent latte.


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.


The Ultimate Shop Local Michiana Guide

by Jane

I HATE BLACK FRIDAY! There is nothing worse I could imagine than going to Best Buy at 5:00 a.m. to run through the aisles trying to grab the best deals before someone else gets it first. Especially the day after Thanksgiving, when you spend time with family and friends, doing the awesome simple things, like eating too much pie and drinking wine while you play Pass the Pigs (awesome, little-known 80’s kids game. Check it out!)

So, I religously stick to two plans of action for my Christmas shopping: online and LOCAL!!!

This is my list of must-stop places in Michiana for the perfect holiday gifts:

We’re starting our shopping journey in downtown South Bend.

For the Foodie Who Hates to Cook
Get this person a Tapastrie Gift Card, we’ll be talking in more detail about this place soon! It’s a brand new, super fancy, fantastically delicious wine and tapas bar that just opened on the corner of Colfax and next to the Morris Performing Arts Center. If you have any theater-loving friends, stop by and get them tickets to an upcoming show.

For the Bookworm
Idle Hours Bookshop has really unique finds. Spend some time in this cozy little shop, browse the books, get one for a friend…and let’s be honest, three for yourself! 😉

For the Foodie
For that amazing home chef you know, South Bend’s Purple Porch Co-op has amazing variety of local items. Be sure to consider the national award-winning Honey from the Unity Gardens.

For the Antiques Lover
Browse through the treasures at Junk Evolution to find that perfect little gem, maybe a set of cocktail glasses from the 1950’s, or an art deco vase?

Are you ready to stop shopping for a minute and grab a bite to eat? Stop by Eddy Street Commons next, and make time for lunch at Yats on Eddy St. Commons. I’m a long-time fan of this amazingly inexpensive New Orleans style diner, since I’m originally from Indianapolis where Yats first opened. I used to be a Yats on Mass Ave. girl! My favorite options are spinach and mushroom etouffee and the maque choux!

For the Diva
Stop by my absolute favorite salon in South Bend, The Beehive Salon is on Jefferson Boulevard. Grab a gift card for this retro-mod, cozy little salon with a staff that does wonders with beautiful cuts and colors. Practically all the girls we know go here.

OR, head down the street to Allie Oesch Jewelry for a unique, delicately beautiful piece of Ali’s hand-made jewelry, or a fancy boutique outfit or home item. The candles are awesome!

For the Art Fan
There’s yet another shop on Jefferson that I LOVE. Go to Just Goods for really creative items from South Bend and around the world. Everything from alpaca wool socks, to beautifully rendered greeting cards by local artist, Heron’s Heart Studio.


Go to the Small Business Saturday event at Make South Bend this Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and sip a hot cocoa from their free hot cocoa bar while you shop for jewelry, pottery, handmade lotions and lip balms, and clothing—all made by local artisans!

Have fun shopping! Post your awesome finds on Getting Bent’s Facebook page!

Cheema Indian Grocery Store

Next week I am headed to Delhi.  (Also probably no post next week, since I will be in India!)  Anyways, preparing for the trip has meant filing visa paperwork, rescheduling lots of meetings at work, and most importantly, making lists and lists of all of the dishes I want to eat while over there.  Last week, I couldn’t take the anticipation any more and decided to fix some tofu curry for dinner.  This occasioned a trip to Cheema, the Indian grocery store just over the Mishawaka border.

Goodies bought at Cheema

Goodies bought at Cheema

Cheema has an amazing selection of spices, chutneys, curry pastes, lentils, rice… they even have Kingfisher beer if you are aiming for a truly authentic feast.  The prices are great too.  I bought a huge bag of curry powder, several boxes of garam masala, vindaloo paste, hot mango chutney and a few other odds and ends.  (I already had the tofu.)

And if you don’t feel like cooking but still feel like curry, you can head next door to India Garden.

Happy cooking!