• Jan 14

Shipshewana….Where Moments Turn Into Memories

Enter this gate to warm thoughts!

Remember the crossroad of beauty!

Hang out for a while and bloom in the sunshine!

Remember the world as a colorful place!

Take the path to simple beauty!

Don’t forget!

Appreciate the winter sunshine, but don’t forget that color and warmth will return soon!

Let these photos remind you of what is soon to be again, and encourage you to add a little color to your day!

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  • Jan 8
  • Posted on Thursday, January 8th, 2015
  • by rene_h in
  • Uncategorized

Happy New Year to all of our Shipshewana friends!

The holidays zip by every year, and every year after the dust settles and the green and red is put away, we are left with the same question.

Now what?

For most, it’s more of the same.  We keep moving forward…or we just keep moving!

For some of us though it’s a time to shake things up a bit and make a new plan…kind of a mulligan or do-over.  (No, I am not a golfer!  I just like that word!)  The new year is an opportunity to fix some things and some people call that “making resolutions.”  And that’s all well and good, but the truth is that most people fail at their New Year’s resolutions and they usually fail within the first week.  So here we are with the first week of the new year under our belts.  How’s that going for you?  Did you set yourself up to be disappointed in yourself for the entire year!

Why do people fail at their resolutions?  I thought you’d never ask!

They fail because they don’t include in their plan the steps they need to achieve their resolutions.  Those steps are called goals.  Goals are achievable especially if you are realistic as you set them up.  For instance; I, like the majority of women reading this post, would like to loose some weight in 2015.  I have a specific number in mind, but I have given myself the achievable goal of loosing just 3 pounds, and I have a realistic way of doing that through a 7 minute work out and eliminating sugar from my diet.  Ok, so the 7 minute workout took me 30 minutes the first time I did it, but every day I do it I congratulate myself because I’m getting better every day.  And the ache in my muscles is a good ache reminding me that I am being proactive toward my goal.  And, yes, you can eliminate sugar from your diet as long as you are allowed one piece of chocolate every day.  Just one!

What “goals” might you have for the new year?

I am also wanting to find bargains this year.  Well, that would be every year because that is part of my DNA.  And the hunt keeps me moving so that can be part of my exercise plan, right?

How about  spending more time with friends.  Small goals, right?  So make a date.  Find some event to attend.  I have a few ideas for you.

Coming up on the first weekend in February is the annual Pajama Day Sale in Shipshewana.  This is something you and your friends will laugh about for years to come.  Buy matching PJs and book a hotel room.  Get up really early and tromp around in the snow to find some amazing bargains.  You could accomplish three goals all at the same time!  Check out the details here!  Believe me, it’s a lot of fun!

If you are not into shopping in your pajamas before the sun makes an appearance,  find a show to go to at the Blue Gate Theater.  They offer comedians, country singers, and everything in between.  Just click the link to find one that suits you and your friend.

Today the weather is keeping us all indoors, and that is a good and safe choice.  But don’t forget your goals for the new year.  It kind of boils down to two things:  make some achievable goals and then celebrate every single one you achieve…with a friend!

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  • Dec 19

by Rene Hostetler

I just wrapped my last present and with lovely Christmas music streaming in the background, I can’t help but wonder why we do a lot of the things we do during the last month of every year.  For a lot of people this is one of the most stressful times of the year for so many reasons.   I’m hoping that’s not true for you, but I do understand.  It’s stressful financially, emotionally and physically.  The question is…is it worth it all?

For those of you who are still shopping and stressing over what to get Uncle Ralph or Grandma, here’s a simple idea to…well, simplify the whole process.  Think of gifts that will appeal to your recipient’s five senses.  Give them something soft to touch like a cozy throw or afghan.  Include some great music on a CD or tickets to a concert.  Tantalize their taste buds with some fruit or nuts.  Your gift will go on giving if it’s a beautiful piece of art or photograph for them to look at every day.  And an aromatic candle will remind them of your thoughtfulness and care.   Give all five or narrow it down to just one, but a gift that appeals to the senses somehow evokes more emotion and a lasting memory of the event for which it was given.

So, why all this gift giving at the end of the year?  Some would blame it on materialism and consumerism and greed, and I admit this season is a test of my own desire to do more and have more.  The simple answer is that it is time to show appreciation and love at the end of the year.  And that is always a very good reason.

And, of course, for those of us who believe in him, it is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the One who came to change the world.  And even if you don’t believe in him, you have to admit…he changed the world!

It has always seemed strange to me that we are celebrating his birthday, and we get all the gifts!  But that’s kind of how it was from right from the beginning.
Because of him we get the Gift! And then it gets personal.  He changes my world!

Christmas is about love.   God’s love for us. Our love for each other.
Oh, yes…now that’s something to celebrate!

Merry Christmas to you all!

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  • Dec 9

by Rene Hostetler

Every year I have a new resolve when it comes to Christmas shopping, and every year I seem to slip right back into my old habits.  My resolve is always based on avoidance…avoiding the crowds, avoiding materialism, avoiding the frenzy, avoiding breaking my budget!  So, really, avoidance, in this case is a good thing!  I slip back into my old shopping habits because of my lack of a plan.  But some years there is a plan and when it works, it works really well.

One year my family decided that instead of buying presents for each other we would get away somewhere together for a Christmas weekend.  We agreed that we really don’t remember the gifts we receive from one year to another, but we would remember a fun family weekend.  We reserved a couple of rooms at The Farmstead Inn in Shipshewana and with the pool, hot tub, game room and activities we brought, we had a great time and obviously, I still remember it!  Another year we went bigger and spent it at one of those large indoor water park resorts.  I have an ornament hanging on my Christmas tree from that weekend, and I’m smiling just thinking about the fun we had.

Now that my family lives farther away it’s not as possible for all of us to get together like that.  I wish we could.  So, now the search is on every year trying to find that perfect gift for each and every one of them.  It can get exhausting, can’t it?

So… what’s the plan?

This year I started early and tried to find things a little out of the ordinary.  The best way to find things out of the ordinary is to shop at local shops.  I’m a  bit of a rebel, I guess. If the media tells me what the “gift of the year” is, I will avoid it like the plague.  There’s that avoidance issue again!  If you are struggling with your search for that unique gift this year, check out your local antique store, and buy someone a piece of the past.

My husband is a photographer.  I’m getting him an antique camera he actually picked out last summer when we were strolling through an antique gallery.  Shhhh…don’t tell him, ok?   It’s our little secret!

I also love to shop Shipshewana at Christmas time.  It’s not as crowded as the mall. There’s tremendous variety.  I can find multiple items all in one location.  The festive decorations around town help put me in the mood, and I’m helping out the local economy!  It’s about taking the stress out of shopping and putting the fun in!  I’m a believer!  Shopping is fun!

So, as you are searching for all those special gifts for the precious people in your life,  just remember my strategy…


Happy shopping!

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  • Dec 2

by Rene Hostetler

I have two confessions.  I’m coming clean right up front.   The first one is that the express purpose of this post is to convince you to abandon any ideas you might have about maintaining your weight over the next month.  Yes, that’s right.  I am going to tempt you to indulge!  Or at least give you a reason to do so!

The second confession has to do with my own inability to create the perfect pie.  I have long known it should not be me who volunteers to bring the pies to any holiday family dinner.  This year my sister-in-law brought the pies for Thanksgiving dinner, and no, they were not perfect, but they were far better than any I could have produced.  I am not sure where my deficiency lies, but my crusts are not flaky (even when I draft the Pillsbury Dough Boy onto my team!), my fillings do not set, and I usually use way too much whipped cream (is that even possible?) and, yes, it comes out of a can!  I do not do pie!

So…what do I do when I have no one else to assign this task to?  You guessed it!  I buy pie! What is kind of humorous about this is the fact that I’m really picky about where I buy my pie.  Even though I do not have the ability to produce the perfect pie, if I am going to have to pay for pie?  It has to be perfect!

The fortunate piece of news in all this is that I live in an area where perfect pie is produced daily.  I live in an area where other people travel long distances to come to in order to fulfill their quest for pie!  And they box it up, take it home, freeze it for posterity, and some even sell it for prosperity!  Really!

My mouth is watering right now just thinking about the many bakeries, restaurants and shops in Shipshewana that offer us the opportunity to indulge.  And here’s the kicker!  They do this all year round!  Not just for the holidays!  You can buy a perfect pie right smack dab in the middle of summer or in the bleakest, gray day of March.   They also offer other “indulgences” like cookies, candies, cinnamon rolls (if you’ve ever had one of those, you’d know why my mouth is watering), and fruit cakes.   I’ve never been a big fan of fruit cake, but I’ve heard the fruit cake from The Neighbor Next Door Bakery is unlike any fruit cake you’ve ever had.  I might just have to try it this year!

And now that I’ve gotten your attention here’s a link to help you on your own quest for the perfect pie… for the holidays or any time!  Click here to find pie!

I only have one question…what is a “sugar plum” anyway?

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  • Nov 18

by Rene Hostetler

I put up my outside Christmas lights on November 11!  That is the earliest I have ever decorated for Christmas, but today when the wind chill is below zero and there’s this white stuff all over my yard, I’m feeling a tiny bit smug about the whole thing.

My rule has always, always been that I wait until after Thanksgiving because Thanksgiving is deserving of its own recognition.  It is a good thing to set aside one day (at least) to give thanks!  So right now it’s Thanksgiving inside my house and Christmas outside. But please take note…I have not turned those Christmas lights on yet except to check to make sure they are all working.  That will happen on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and I can’t wait!

I get really excited about these things.  I think it’s the kid in me.  The part that refuses to grow up and be too serious… or too busy… or too preoccupied to have some fun and enjoy this wonderful life I’ve been given.  That’s why having grandkids is one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.  I get to play!

Kids Day - Ms. Merry Christmas

Kids Day - Ms. Merry Christmas

If I were a kid again I would so want my parents or grandparents to take me to Kids Day in Shipshewana.  This is just one of the events in Shipshewana that is planned with kids in mind. Kids Day gives kids an adventure with stories, games, treats, a puppet show and prizes all along the way.  This year it’s like a treasure hunt with a map to follow.  How fun is that?!!!  There will be beautiful sights all through town and a chance to sit down and chat with Santa himself.  The date is December 6 and the fun begins at 10am.   You can always go to www.Shipshewana.com to find out more!

What a great way to spend a day together as a family!  And who knows, you just might find that kid inside you who just wants to come out and play!

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  • Nov 10

by Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener

Mixed feelings abound this time of year for many of us gardeners as we look forward to a break from the work of pruning, watering and weeding, but are also sad to see the end of our beautiful flowers and fresh produce.  While cleaning up my garden yesterday some other fall “things to do” came to mind. Here are a few that may be on your “to do” list or may have slipped your mind.


When putting a tool away for the season, give it a good scrubbing with water then wipe on a light coating or spray on vegetable oil.

Sharpen hoes and cutting tools such as pruners.


Disconnect and drain garden hoses before they freeze solid during winter weather.  The same goes for sprayers.  If you don’t do this you will likely have more openings than what you want come spring.  Bring into a heated area any chemicals, especially liquids, that are being stored in an unheated building.


Clean out the underside of your lawn mower.  Dead, moist grass contributes to rusty metal.  Once the deck is cleaned, give it a light coating of oil as you would your metal tools.


Tulips and daffodils need to be planted soon if you have any.  After planting, mulch with an inch of two of organic material such as straw or bark chips to help retain ground warmth longer.  Bulbs can also be planted in pots and stored in a cool area for forcing in February.


You may like to stock up now on birdseed before the slick weather of winter sets in.  Avoid the inexpensive mixes that contain mostly filler with little nutrient value.  Woodpeckers love wire mesh tubes filled with raw, shelled peanuts, Blue Jays like corn, Goldfinches prefer niger seed  and most other birds get adequate nutrition from black-oil sunflower seeds.  Set out a heated bird bath, cleaning and replenishing the water regularly.


Protect tree trunks from vermin by wrapping them with hardware cloth or a split length of plastic drainage pipe.  Anchor with a ground staple to prevent access.  The above ground parts of evergreens are particularly susceptible to drying out over the winter through a process called transpiration.  After the ground freezes the plants roots are no longer able to take up water to replace that which is lost through the tops.  As a result the, needles, buds and twigs can dry out.  Give them an extra drink before freezing weather sets in.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • Nov 4

by Rene Hostetler

I’m no expert, but I have been around the parenting block a few times and now I’m in that elite group of extremely blessed people known as grandparents.  So, I feel pretty confident that I can speak on the subject of what kids really want with some authority.  And, after all, I used to be a kid!

I’m not going to lecture on the negative effects of social media, technology, video games and questionable tv watching.  We’ve all heard the stats.

My big revelation on what kids really want is something we all already know.

Kids want our time!  Our attention!  And our affection!

No big secret, and I must confess, I am a very typical grandparent.  I’m desperately  trying to figure out how I can manage my budget through the next couple of months with nine grandchildren, Christmas, and four of them have birthdays between now and the end of January.  Yeah…bad timing, right?!

But I’m also trying to figure out how to spend time with these precious kids.  Six of them live in Colorado so that’s a whole other challenge, but for the three that live here, how can my husband and I invest ourselves into them? We do have some really great memories of stringing lights all over their dad’s pickup truck to enter into the Light Parade in Shipshewana.  They loved throwing the candy to the kids along the route.  Afterward we drove home with the lights blazing and went through a fast food drive-through for some night time snacking.  We still laugh about that!  You can still attend this great event with your kids!  It happens this Saturday at 6pm in Shipshewana, of course!

And there are a whole lot of other great events in Shipshewana to do with your kids too. Kid’s Day takes place on December 6th from 9am to 4pm.  Santa will be visiting that day and there are all kinds of fun activities planned.  It all starts at the Davis Mercantile. Check it all out at Shipshewana.com and plan a few outings.

If you’re out-doorsy like we are, you can always bundle up and take a hike in the local park, go sledding (yes, they are predicting it), or go ice skating.  There are things to do that make the colder months not only bearable but down right fun!

Or build a snow creature!  We called him Snow Bob Blob and with the cold, cold temperatures we had last year he was around for a long time.  He made me smile every time I saw him.  Not because he was so cute, but because of the memories we made together as a family.

What do kids really want this holiday season and all year round?  They want you!
Go make some memories!

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  • Oct 28

by Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener

Roses are one of the oldest and most popular garden flowers grown.  Even though there is a plethora of information available on growing roses, my experience has been through trial and error.  When winterizing, your main concern is protecting your roses from extended periods of weather below 20 degrees, fluctuating temperatures and winter winds.  Sometimes our winters are not too severe and merely piling protective material around the base of the plant will be enough, but one never knows what old man winter will throw at us.  The following information will hopefully give you some important basics to helping your roses make it through the winter.

Very cold temperatures and winds can cause the rose canes to dry out so water them thoroughly in late autumn before the ground freezes.  Pay close attention to plants under the eaves of buildings.  They may not receive the rainfall that other plants get and will need supplemental water.

Remove debris such as old leaves and dead stems from around the base of the rose.  These materials are inviting places for disease organisms to over-winter.   Well cared for roses are more likely to survive the winter than diseased plants or those that lack nutrients.

Climbing roses have long canes that require support.  The canes may reach 5’ to 20’ in length depending on their type and how they are maintained.  To protect climbing roses, remove the canes from their support, lay them on the ground and secure with what I call a large wire staple. Cover the canes with 3 to 4 inches of soil with some mulch on top of that.  The base should be covered with about 10” of soil.  This should be done after the roses go dormant and have been exposed to two or three hard frosts.

The bush rose is self-supporting and will flower mainly at the top of its growth.  To protect it, bring the canes together and loosely spirally bind them with twine.  Using soil, create a mound at the base of the plant to about 12” high.  Use soil from a different part of the garden so you do not injure the roots of the rose by using nearby soil.  Mulch such as straw or leaves can be placed on top to further protect the plant.  To hold the insulation in place you may want to try a bushel basket with the bottom removed or a wire mesh cylinder.  I have seen many people use white rose cones to protect their roses.  This should not take the place of mounding though.  When using the cone, a mound of soil 6” to 8” should also be in place.  The canes may need to be cut back to fit into the cone.  Even though it may seem like we do not have much sun during the winter it does occasionally happen, so cut a few holes in the top of the cone so heat can escape.  Finally, secure the cone by putting a heavy object (stone) on the top and mound some soil around the base.

Remove soil from the base of the rose plant before the buds break open, usually in late March or early April after the threat of frost has passed and leave a 2” layer of mulch.

As always, Happy Gardening!

My research information about gardening and related subjects is available online at http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs.html http://www.ohioline.osu.edu/lines/hyg-list.html The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

Karen Weiland, Master Gardener

Purdue Extension LaGrange County

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  • Oct 17

by Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener

If you place your houseplants outdoors for the summer, it’s time to be bringing them indoors.  A gradual reintroduction to the indoors is best as conditions differ widely between indoors and out.  The sudden changes that take place with humidity, temperature and light can have detrimental effects on plants.

First, if any of your plants need repotting, this is the time to do it.  Scrub clean the larger pot you will be using, then add some potting soil, not garden soil (which may havediseases).  If the plant has gotten leggy over the summer, remove it from the pot and prune the top and the roots in equal proportions, then replant.  I like to give mine a little boost by adding a root stimulator to my water.

Expose plants gradually to reduced lighting to prevent shock.  Expect some of the leaves to fall off, this is normal and most plants will adapt in time to their new home.

Inspect plants for insects and diseases.  Give them a bath with insecticidal soap if necessary.  If you are concerned about insects in the soil, soak the pot in a tub of lukewarm water for 15 minutes.  This will force those nasty critters out.  Some folks like to quarantine their plants for a few weeks just to make sure they are free of pests.

To keep humidity at a pleasing plant level, add a layer of small stones to a waterproof tray, add water to the stones and place the pots on top of the stones.

This would be a good time to take cuttings of some of your annual plants, like coleus, begonias and geraniums.  I like to root mine in moist sand or a rooting compound, then after roots are about one half inch long I transplant them into small pots and overwinter them on shelves equipped with plant lights in my basement.  Come spring, my cuttings are ready to be placed in window boxes, pots or in the landscape.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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