Talking about home, children, parenting, homeschooling, recipes, faith and much more. Hope you'll join me!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rediscovering the Many Benefits of Puzzles

I remember as a child that my parents would erect the card table in the living room and have a puzzle laid out during the colder months of the year.  It was always a great distraction from the normal every day activities and it was a thrill to see it come together as we worked as a family.  

Dad and Mom would usually put on some great music (on the record player of course!) and we would sit there hunched over the pieces to see which area of the puzzle we could finish during that particular sitting.  Puzzles are "addictive" - but in a good way!

This past weekend, my husband and I rediscovered the joy of doing puzzles!  Our girls found puzzles in the cupboard at my parents’ house and the next thing we knew, we had a puzzle going each day we were there for the holiday.  I think we completed two puzzles and ½ of another from Thursday to Sunday. 

The girls were more interested than I thought they would be!  It just goes to show that the simpler things in life can still catch the interest of our young people despite the electronic age in which we live.   

At any given time, there were three or four of us working on a puzzle together – my husband, my Mom, Dad, the girls and me.  It brought back sweet memories of my childhood, and the time together with my parents created brand new memories with a new generation – our girls.    

Did you know?
 ·        Puzzles increase fine motor skills – even young children can grasp onto puzzle pieces, sometimes even prior to being able to hold a crayon properly.
·        Hand-eye coordination is enhanced when putting a puzzle together – it takes both hand and eye coordination to figure out what puzzle piece fits where in the big scheme of the puzzle.
·        Puzzles are excellent for improving cognitive skills – the very process of putting together a puzzle naturally teaches a child or adult how to reason and how to solve problems. 
·        Puzzles strengthen social skills and relationships – they’re just down right fun!  Children and adults can learn how to work with others while putting together a puzzle – asking where a piece might go, finding pieces together, and fitting together a scene or part of the puzzle as a team.

We have discovered that the benefits of puzzles go far beyond just the educational aspects.  A puzzle brings us together in one place.  We’re all focused on the same project, working toward one goal, and we find that we talk quite a bit while we work together.  It’s a quiet time when we all slow down and spend time together.

My husband and I talked over the weekend and we have decided to keep our eyes open for a craft table over the holidays (hoping to find a great sale!).  Once we find one, we are going to set it up in the living room and keep it up throughout the winter.  We’re interested to see how many puzzles we can start and finish in six months or so! 

Sources for Puzzles

Of course you can purchase puzzles brand new and admittedly that’s the best way to ensure that all the puzzle pieces are present and accounted for, but even new puzzles can have pieces missing.

We like to scour thrift stores and garage sales for puzzles at great prices.  Garage sale season is over in our area, so I am going to head to the thrift store to see what I can find.  The last time I searched our local thrift stores, I found several puzzles of 500 pieces or more and the prices ranged from 29 cents to 69 cents each.  Now that’s a deal!  And, surprisingly, all the pieces were included!

Types of Puzzles

There are entire stores dedicated to just puzzles, so if you have one of those in your area, go take a look at the many styles and types of puzzles that are available!  It will inspire you!

Here are some types to look for:
·        Wood puzzles
·        Floor puzzles – huge pieces
·        Chunky puzzles
·        Jigsaw puzzles – pieces range from 25 to thousands of pieces
·        Layered puzzles
·        Sensory puzzles – these have different textures within the same puzzle
·        Peg puzzles
·        Foam puzzles

Choose age appropriate puzzles for your children, but try to challenge them as they grow up too.  The more experience they get, the harder the puzzles should become to continue challenging them to sharpen their cognitive and reasoning skills.

Above all, enjoy the process!  Put on some music, brew some coffee or make some hot chocolate, and just enjoy watching the puzzle come together. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! 

I hope and pray that you and yours have a blessed day! 

All my best to you,

Monday, November 22, 2010

How Has the Lord Shown His Grace to You?

Adults and children alike brought forward their Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes yesterday in service while a video played across the screens.  The video showed video clips and photos of children receiving these boxes and the smiles on their faces melted my heart.  Heather, our youngest daughter, took up her box along with her Daddy to the front of the church and placed it there with hundreds of others.  It was a sight to see all those boxes, knowing they would make their way around the world to a girl or boy who might not otherwise receive anything at all this Christmas.

Our pastor, Dave, put it this way - he picked up a single box and called it "a box of grace".  He went on to explain that these boxes hold toys, books, crayons, and other things, but most importantly they hold grace.  See, each box will contain all the wonderful things that each person included in it, but it will also contain a copy of the Gospel in the child's native language.  They will be able to read about what Jesus did for them on the cross.  They will have an opportunity to give their hearts and lives to Christ simply because someone chose to spend time and money putting together a small box of grace.

Dave's words tugged at my heart.  How many times do I worry about where we will get the money to fix the car, buy new shoes for our girls, or put milk into the refrigerator?  Not as often as some, I know.  But there are those months we try so hard and are so careful to be good stewards of our money, time, and talent and yet something else comes up and we are faced with an unexpected expense - one that will cause us to think about what we need to give up either this month or the next...and sometimes longer than that.

And yet...every time I worry or think that we aren't going to make it...the Lord shows us His GRACE!  We have never, ever, not had food on our table.  We have never gone without clothing.  We have a warm and clean home in which to live.  He has provided funds through a small job or gift card in the mail when we don't expect it.  And, despite the times we are wondering if we can provide for our own family, He shows us ways we can give to others.  That is the true blessing of it all!  

How has He done this?  It's been simple things like sales on canned goods in the grocery store so we can give to the Thanksgiving canned good drive.  It was a gift card in the mail to Meijer (groceries!) that I received simply for filling out a survey for the University of Dayton sometime over the summer.  I've found bits and pieces of fabric and such for amazing sale prices and I've supplemented those sales with fabric I already had on hand.  My parents graciously purchased Julie's winter coat for us this year!  Family members have handed us items that we were thinking of buying, but hadn't yet because of budget concerns.  There are so many other ways in which He has provided and allowed us to give to others and each time, it is like a blessing...a reminder that His Grace is sufficient for me if I will simply trust Him to take care of my every need and my every worry.

The children receiving the boxes in a few weeks...they have next to nothing and some of them face the very real possibility of not knowing where their next meal will come from each day.  They struggle with so much physically and I'm sure, emotionally.  These boxes are God's way of taking care of them and meeting a very real need - their need for Christ and His salvation.  When I think about that...I know in my heart of hearts that if we have Christ and His salvation, we have everything we truly need.  We have eternal life and can know that our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life when we accept Jesus as our Saviour and Lord!

My family - we are so very blessed - even during those times we feel stretched financially, emotionally, spiritually, or physically.  In reality, we have more than we need and maybe even more than we should.  I'm praying the Lord will continue to show us ways to give to others and to show His grace to us.  That is what I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving season and on this Multitude Monday.  His Grace.


Has the Lord shown His grace to you recently?  I'd love to hear about it!  Glorify Him with your testimony by linking up below!

Powered by Linky Tools
Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Fragments - Random Thoughts

You've heard of de-cluttering your house, right?  Well, Mrs.4444 at Half-Past Kissin' Time is giving us a chance to de-clutter our minds with her special Friday feature of Friday Fragments.  It's a time when you can just assemble your random thoughts from the week and share them with your readers.  Love this idea!  Sometimes I can't seem to come up with a post with one entire theme, so this is a nice change for one day a week.  

Mommy's Idea

Random Thoughts from the week...

Thanksgiving is less than one week away!  That realization hit me yesterday...where does the time go?

I realized I forgot to make reservations for my parents to come and visit in December...where did that post-it note get to??

I came up with this idea this past week.  I am trying to eat more salads throughout the week, but get bored quickly with what goes into the salad.  So, I thought I'd put all of my "add-ins" right where I could see them and that way I am more likely to toss them into my salad greens.  What do you think?

Slivered almonds, dried cranberries, flax seed, dried pineapple, and edamame

Julie (our oldest daughter) and I have started a new "thing" by writing to each other in a journal (we are using a cute notebook with a puppy on the front) we trade back and forth.  I confess I saw this idea in another blog and cannot remember for the life of me where I saw it!  If anyone knows...please tell me so I can give full credit for the idea!  Julie and I are two days into this adventure and we are having a great time!  She hid it under my pillow last night and despite how tired I was, I jumped up to read what she had written and then wrote her back!  I felt like a little kid!  I am already loving this simple way of keeping in touch with my girl

All I want to do lately is bake and write!  Might have to whip up some goodies today.  I raided the pantry this morning and discovered chocolate, butterscotch chips, dark chocolate, baking chocolate, chocolate chips, Andes mints, and some other delicious goodies with which I am sure we can make something...well...CHOCOLATE.  Can you see a theme here?

 Fudgy Brownies...yum!

I loved reading this post by Sheila Wray Gregoire this week.  It's a great article called Should a Child's Room Be a Castle?   We are one of those families who have determined not to allow televisions into the bedrooms and that includes the master bedroom.  The thoughts that Sheila puts forth in her article hit home with me.  Love, love her thoughts - check it out!

I confess that I returned home from co-op yesterday, sat down on the couch, and stayed there with my feet up for one and a half hours!  Yes, terrible, I know, but being "on" emotionally for 5 or so hours wears me out!  Felt good to do it and sometimes I just have to tell myself it's ok to take a break. 

Do you have great plans for the weekend?  Hope your time is blessed!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

 Shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child

Here in Ohio, it is downright dreary!  It's overcast, raining, and hovering around 45 degrees.  It was a perfect day to put together the shoeboxes we're sending overseas to children we've never met before.  Have you heard of Samaritan's Purse?  They are the organization that came up with Operation Christmas Child - a huge service project that delivers shoeboxes filled with goodies for children around the world who otherwise would receive nothing for Christmas.  You can read about the organization here.  I'm sharing this with you because it's been a blessing to us as a family (no other reason).  

There's still time to fill a shoe box with toys, candies, toiletries, and more if you are interested!  Collection week in many areas of the United States begins this week and ends next Monday or so.  Our church is a collection center for OCC, and we are dedicating and praying over all the boxes brought to our location this coming Sunday.  Do you want to bless a sweet child somewhere in the world?  Go here to see the steps to take to fill a shoe box - they give helpful tips on what you can pack and should not pack into the boxes.

The inside of Julie's box - she packed one for a Girl 10-15 years old

Our girls are blessed by this service project each year!  It's wonderful to walk around the stores with them and see what they pick out for their box.  This year, Julie suggested that we shop at Family Christian store because she had seen pencils and other small items with Scripture verses on them the last time we visited the store.  We did that and found brightly colored pencils for only 29 cents each!  With my coupon of 25% off, they came to a mere 22 cents each.  Yes, I use coupons to shop for the shoe boxes too because the more I save, the more we can pack into that box.  

Other things the girls picked out for their boxes:  stickers, slinkies, socks, candy, pencils, pencil sharpener, notebooks, pens, keychains, a Christmas ornament, bouncy balls, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hair clips, hair brush, and some other things they thought a girl their age would like.
Heather's box for a Girl 8 - 11

We do this also because we want our girls to understand that there are many children who have nothing to eat...nothing to wear...and sometimes no place to live.  Our girls are so blessed and we are hoping that by showing them a world view of others, they will have compassion and love for people around the world.

Do you fill shoe boxes?  Have you ever heard back from the child who received it?  We would love to hear your stories!

Hope you enjoy the rest of your day! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Multitude Monday - Blessings!

Monday again?  Did I blink?  Seems that way sometimes, doesn't it?  We wait and wait for Friday to arrive so we can enjoy the weekend and then the next thing we know, we're waking up on Monday morning again ready to start a new week.  I wish I could figure out a way to "hold on" to the times with loved ones a bit tighter...and for a longer time...


At any rate, I wanted to continue with my blessings list, beginning with #91.  If you haven't heard about One Thousand Gifts, be sure to visit Ann Voskamp's website and see what it's all about.  The basic premise is that we all have so many blessings in our lives each and every day.  Her writings are an inspiration!  

It's been good for me to think on the blessings the Lord has rained down on me, no matter how little or seemingly insignificant, and to thank Him for all He has given me.

One thousand gifts continued...I'm thankful for...

91.  A compliment from my oldest daughter over the weekend
92.  Spontaneous hugs from my girls
93.  The aroma of freshly brewed coffee in the morning
94.  Hearing the laughter of my Mom and Dad as we catch up over the phone each weekend
95.  The knowledge that the Lord loves me even when I am completely unlovable to others
96.  An e-mail from a sweet friend who said she missed me while I was gone on my trip
97.  A good book to read
98.  Looking at a table of desserts and having the willpower not to eat any of it (that's the Lord in me, not my own willpower!)
99.  My oldest daughter, Julie, sitting in service with us - having her put her head on my shoulder and her arms around me and looking up at me with a sweet smile (she's 11 years old).  Ah, my heart was bursting!  
100.  Watching our youngest daughter, Heather, get excited about her new Bible this weekend - she couldn't put it down and has been excited to talk about what she is seeing in it!  Thank you Lord!
101.  Listening to Heather play the piano and get better and better every time she plays
102.  Feeling the little hands in mine when my girls grab my hands in the parking lot
103.  My trip with my Momma (last week) - that was our first trip together, ever!  
104.  My sweet husband clearing the table for me while I washed the pots and pans from dinner
105.  My Grandpa calling me "Suz"
106.  A warm and cozy home to enjoy, especially as the weather turns colder
107.  The blessing of giving to others
108.  Forgiveness
109.  God's provision in the way of my husband's job and the jobs the Lord has given me from home
110.  Two vehicles that are still running

What are you thankful for today? 

 Scripture Reading Update
I must confess, I am still in Job!  Yes, Job.  I am stuck on the dialogue between Job and his friends in the first few chapters.  I want to understand it and figure out what it all means and it's been slow going for me.  I do hope you're doing better than me with the Reading the Bible in One Year challenge!  The way I see it, it's a good idea to keep up, but also to understand what I'm reading.  To that end, I am behind right now according to the schedule, but perhaps there will be another time to "catch up". 

All my best to you on this Monday morning!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Indiana Amish Country - Day Two

One of my favorite times of the trip with my Momma were the mornings we spent over breakfast.  We chatted over coffee and waffles one morning and the next we enjoyed yogurt and coffee.  I learned on this trip that my Momma is a true "coffee-holic"!  She really loves her coffee - even through the day if she can.  She was once a die-hard tea drinker, but has made the switch for sure.  Anyway, I digress...
Day Two of our trip to the Amish country of Indiana was an adventure!  We both say this was our favorite day of the trip.  Shipshewana was nice and we enjoyed the people we met, but Goshen and Wakarusa were much more our "speed" with individually owned shops and down-to-earth people running their business while caring for loved ones and home. 
We started out around 8:30 (none of the shops open until roughly then anyway) and headed for a fabric shop called Calico Point.  It's on Route 40 outside of Goshen proper - it's in the country!  Don't be fooled into thinking you've missed it - it's nearly to Wakarusa, but still considered Goshen.  Calico Point is a fabric shop owned and operated by an Amish family.  Their store is popular with the Amish and Mennonite community as well as "English" because they offer a variety of fabrics.  

She has her store broken up into three aisles if you will.  One aisle features 100% polyester fabric, one aisle is cotton/poly fabric, and the third aisle is 100% cotton fabric.  She even has one corner of the shop dedicated to beautiful 100% cotton batik fabric.  Both ladies working the store were very friendly and offered to help us with anything we needed.  Their prices were very reasonable at around $6.75 - $7.50 per yard for 100% cotton!  Be sure to check out their Button Pantry.  It's a very clever creation built by the grandfather of one of the gals who worked there.  

The shop is open and bright, which we really liked too.  She offers not only fabric, but batting, buttons, and thread among a few other notions.  I found some fabric I liked to make a Christmas table runner (the photo doesn't do the colors justice.)  I also found some coffee bean fabric which I thought was really cool and which I will be incorporating into another project.

The sweet ladies at Calico Point recommended another quilt shop to us, located just about three miles up the road in the heart of downtown Wakarusa called Jeanette's Fabric Boutique.  It's located on Elkhart Street in Wakarusa and features about 2,000 bolts of fabric.  The ladies in this store were very kind too!  Seems like everyone we met on our trip was so friendly.  Jeanette's Fabric Boutique has fabric, thread, fat quarters, sewing machines, quilting and sewing notions and tools, buttons, and more.  It's a smaller shop, but worth a visit.

Momma and I were hungry by this time, so we started looking for a good place to eat.  She and Daddy have always searched out the local diners and restaurants on their trips and have found some delicious home cooking in the process.  The "Mom and Pop" diners really know their food!  Momma and I didn't have to look far in downtown Wakarusa when we found The Shortstop Inn, a locally owned and operated family restaurant. 

When you walk in, you can go to the lounge and bar area or you can go to the restaurant (which is what we did).  The waitress greeted us as soon as we entered and before long we had a delicious lunch on the table.  Just imagine a place where the people of the town meet and greet with small tables, sports photos and memorabilia covering the walls, and a semi-open kitchen where you can see and smell the food being cooked and prepared.  We enjoyed our lunch and then headed out to find yet another quilt shop (can you tell where our focus is?)

Long Lane Fabrics is located on County Road 9 and is considered Goshen, not Wakarusa.  You'll see the sign at the end of the lane - it's a black sign with white lettering.  Once you reach the end of the lane (yes, it's long!), you will see a house on the left and another smaller building in front of you as you pull up.  It's a very unassuming structure with no signage at all.  I questioned whether it was really a shop, but my Mom hopped out right away and peeked into the window and it was indeed the Long Lane Fabric shop.  

The shop is owned and operated by an elderly Amish lady and her husband.  The shop features mostly polyester/cotton and 100% polyester fabrics, but she did have a few 100% cotton fabrics from which to choose.  She also had various items like stationery, handmade wooden spoons, toys, hand-knitted sweaters, work gloves and hats, and sewing needles and notions.  The price of the 100% cotton fabric was $1.50 to $2.75 a yard!  We asked her before we checked out just to make sure we were reading that correctly and she confirmed the price with a smile.  By the way, she only accepts cash at this point in time.

 My purchases from Long Lane Fabrics

 As we were checking out with her, she shared with us that a few of her children and grandchildren were over cleaning her house for her.  She is 83 years old and her husband is in his 90's.  She shared with us that her husband had 7 children when she married him and then together they had 8  more children.  Sadly, two of the children were physically challenged and are home with the Lord.  She then shared with us that she has nearly 100+ grandchildren and nearly that many great-grandchildren!  She said their family reunions run around 300 people or so!  Can you imagine?!  What a legacy!  

Are you still with me?  On we go to downtown Goshen!

We visited and loved the following places:

Old Bag Factory - this is a neat place filled with unique artisan shops, eateries, and a neat little corner called The Book Exchange.  Inside the bag factory are several shops, none of which I was permitted to take photos.  Check out the list of shops at the above link.  

Inside the Bag Factory (second level) was a small eatery called Rolling Scones.  I have never tasted a scone that was so moist and flavorful.  Try their mint chocolate scone - it's delicious!  The gal who ran the place was so sweet and willing to tell us about her menu and took the time to ask us where we were from and how we were enjoying our visit to Goshen.  Her menu features homemade soups, scones, and goodies along with organic food items and healthy choices.  They have a few tables at which you can eat right inside the shop, but there is also another overflow seating area right across the hallway that is quite comfortable as well.  

 Me, outside the Rolling Scones shop

When we finished eating our scones, we walked across the hallway to find a little area called The Book Exchange.  There are several shelves of books, both hardback and softcover.  You can bring in a book you want to exchange or you can donate money in the provided box for books that you'd like to take with you.  The suggested donation is $1.00 for books and 25 cents for magazines.  We found some oldies and goodies!

Quilt enthusiasts must, must visit Quilt Designs while visiting the Old Bag Factory.  Their shop is actually a little log cabin outside the actual bag factory.  Shirley A. Shenk is an incredibly talented fiber artist recognized internationally for her talent and her quilt designs.  We were awed by the work that goes into these quilts!  One of the gals who worked there spent quite a bit of time sharing with us about the quilts and answering our questions.  When you stop in, be sure to ask them how they "mark" their quilts!  It's quite interesting.  If you are considering a purchase, be prepared for the price tag...anywhere between $4,000 - $5,000 for each quilt, depending on the intricacy of the design and the hand quilted design.  Absolutely no photographs are permitted inside the building, but we were able to get one of the cabin from the outside.

Quilt Designs Shop

Here are some random photos of the Old Bag Factory.

Actual old switch panels which powered the Goshen trolley system from the building

Old Bag Factory from parking lot

The day was drawing close to the time when most shops close their doors, so we headed to downtown Goshen to walk the streets and at least window shop.  Be sure to check out the Maple City Market and Ten Thousand Villages.  The Maple City Market is a health food store that offers organic foods and locally grown organic produce.  We bought huge muffins there and had them for dinner that night.  Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade store with so many beautiful things, it's difficult to know what to purchase!  

I will leave you with some photos of the Goshen Courthouse and some of the other buildings and architecture we saw and enjoyed on our last day of the trip before heading home.  Just an aside - we felt totally comfortable walking on these downtown streets after dark (it was only 7 p.m. or so). 

Goshen, Indiana Courthouse

See the flag waving?

Love the architectural detail on these historic downtown Goshen buildings

Goshen city streets at dusk

Historic Goshen police booth (see sign in next photo for explanation)

Isn't that interesting? 

We made the scenic drive back home the next day with a sense of sadness that the trip was over, but also with a sense of thankfulness that we were able to spend so much time together without distractions.  It was a true blessing to me!  

Just a quick note to say:  I was not compensated in any way for mentioning any of the businesses in my blog - I simply enjoy sharing with others places we visited and if I can help out local businesses, I love doing that too. 

All my best to you today!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shipshewana, Indiana - Amish Country

My Momma and I have been talking about taking a trip together now for almost two years and we finally did it this past week!  We had originally planned to travel down to Paducah, Kentucky because of all the quilt shops down there, but it was going to be 8 - 10 hours each way, so we opted to visit Shipshewana, Indiana instead.

The drive to Shipshewana on the freeway takes about 3 1/2 hours from my house, but we took the back roads instead to see what we could see.  My Daddy calls my Mom "Mosey Roads" and now I truly understand why!  (smile)  She loves an adventure and doesn't like to stick with the normal route to go anywhere really.  But, as a result, we saw beautiful homes, old barns, abandoned historic churches, and sprawling, flat farmland that was really something to see.  I wish we could have stopped to get photos of every place I fell in love with, but it would have taken longer than the 5 1/2 hours it did to get there!

 One of the many gorgeous homes we saw along the way

We left my house this past Sunday and got as far as Greenville, Ohio where we stopped for lunch.  We found this adorable restaurant called Sweet One-o-One.  When you step through the front doors, you're welcomed by a large open space with high ceilings and tables randomly placed on both sides of the pathway to the counter.  Looking up, you see the tin-punched ceiling and ceiling fans operating by way of long leather straps winding through pulleys.  It's really neat!  The building in which the restaurant is housed was once a large department store, but now houses Sweet One-o-One, another restaurant toward the back, and some meeting rooms.  They offered lunch fare of wraps, soups, salads, or quiche - all made fresh daily.  The case was filled with freshly baked pies, cookies, and other delicious goodies.  They also had flavored coffees, iced tea, and fresh  lemonade.  Mom and I thoroughly enjoyed our lunch here.  I was not yet in the mode of carrying my camera (we were only an hour from my house), so I didn't get photos inside, but on our way through, I shot this photo of the front of the restaurant from the car.

 Sweet One-o-One, Greenville, Ohio

So, our first day of travel took us on several back roads from Dayton, Ohio to Goshen, Indiana where we stayed in a Comfort Inn.  I will have to get with my Mom to see if she kept track of the route we took and if she did, I'll be sure to share it with you.  Some more photos I took on the way...

These guys are ready to catch something!

Such a contradiction in lifestyles...

Once we reached the Comfort Inn, we checked in and then went for dinner at the nearby Chinese restaurant.  Neither one of us were up for trying to navigate around town after dark, so we ate at the first place we saw.  Needless to say, I was on the treadmill when we returned to the hotel!  Had to work off General Tso's chicken somehow!  

Monday - our first day in Shipshewana
The first place we stopped was on the outskirts of Shipshewana, Indiana.  It was a bulk food store called E&S Sales on N. State Road.  The store was immaculate and had all sorts of foods in bulk.  They also had a few aisles of canned goods, toys, and housewares from which to choose.  Fresh meats, cheeses, and other refrigerated food items were available as well.  This was my "haul", albeit a small one.

Cocoa, quinoa, edamame, deep dish pizza crust mix, sliced almonds, crystallized ginger, dried pineapple bits, dried cranberries, wheat berries, and flax seed

Next to the bulk food store was a produce store with excellent looking vegetables and fruits all priced very reasonably.  We picked up some Gala apples for munching - yum!  

And, next to that building was an Amish diner from which heavenly aromas were coming!  We stopped over to see a menu, but neither one of us was terribly hungry yet, so we thought we might come back at some point (we never did - too many other places to eat!).

We headed in to Shipshewana proper to see what we could get into on our first day in town.  We came across Yoder's Red Barn Shoppes first.  Honestly, the shops were pretty and they had some beautiful things, but for us, it was a bit too commercialized and pricey.  We were hoping for more "homespun" type shops, so we kept going.  We visited a few other places only to find that they were pretty much the same way until we found 'downtown'.  

The Davis Mercantile is worth a look if you like fabric and quilts like we do.  Lolly's Fabric Store has over 2,000 bolts of fabric from which to choose!  Her main store is on the main level where fabrics are priced around $10.00 per yard and fat quarters are $2.75 each.  She has a very nice selection of quilting books and magazines along with thread, notions, and tools of the quilting trade. 

Now, for those looking for quality fabric at a fraction of the going rate (that was us!), be sure to visit her 'discount' store called A Little Bit of Lolly's which is in the same building, but on the lower level.  Fabrics down there are $5.95 per yard unless it's a flat fold and then it's the regular price with 25% off.  My Momma found 60-inch batik fabrics for $5.95/yd!  She bought four yards with a great big smile!  This store also has piles of fat quarters in an actual wooden dinghy right in the front of the store for $2.25 each.

We liked the Head over Heels store located on the lower level too.  They have outdoor apparel for the entire family, fun outdoor gadgets and tools, and some great toys and puzzles for children.  I fell in love with a just-below-the-waist bright blue rain jacket with lapels and belt that was lined!  But, the price tag was high enough to make me release it immediately!  (smile)  Ah well, perhaps someday, yes?

Check out this link for a complete directory of shops in the Davis Mercantile.

I know this post is lengthy, so I will try to shorten it a bit.  These were our favorite stops in Shipshewana:

The Breadbox Bakery - an excellent place for lunch or to get some freshly baked bread or goodies.  We stopped in here to get a snack - Momma and I split a brownie and a piece of pumpkin cake (yeah, we're on vacation!).  It was so good, we stopped back later after browsing other shops so we could get some 'real' food.  Their panini's were delicious and the service was friendly.  Their theme is bread boxes, so the entire place is decorated with antique breadboxes that have been donated to the shop.  I took the following photographs with full permission from the owner of the shop.

Their saucer sized cookies looked amazing!  The shelves are a bit empty because this is not their peak season.

Momma and I ate at the table right in front of the window.  This room has black and white family photos of the owners on the walls - very sweet.

This is actually a pie carrier, but it was my absolute favorite piece on display in the Breadbox Bakery.

Rebecca Haarer Arts & Antiques - we met the owner Rebecca and her mother and they were both just lovely!  She graciously allowed me to take photos inside her store and then graciously took a photo of my Momma and I together.  So glad we got this one - it was the only one of us together on the trip!  Rebecca is a lovely lady.  She describes her shop as being "just like me - eclectic".  She's right!  She has an affinity for antique and hand-quilted quilts, which she displays beautifully in her shop.  While we were visiting, an older Amish lady came into the shop looking for Rebecca because she had a few hand woven rugs she wanted to sell to the shop.  They seemed to know each other well and we came to find out in talking with Rebecca that she grew up Mennonite, so she has ties to the Amish community as well.  If you visit Shipshewana, definitely stop in and say hello!

Rebecca's shop from the outside - located on Morton Street in Shipshewana

Momma and I at Rebecca's Shop

 I can't wait to try this homemade jam I bought at Rebecca's shop!

The Center for Traditional Arts (I couldn't locate a website) was located across the street from Rebecca Haarer Arts & Antiques.  The director of the center, Cliff Pequet, was very friendly to us and had a wealth of knowledge to share about the historical items in his store.  The store is filled with the heavenly scent of leather.  He makes leather boots, belts, and saddles by hand!  Remember the movie North and South?  He made the boots for that movie!  Pretty interesting stuff if you ask me.  Be sure to stop in and see him if you're in town.

We were so close to Middlebury, Indiana, we decided to stop over there and see a quilt shop called The Quilt Shop.  It's a lovely shop with some fabric, but mostly gorgeous quilts in every size and color.  By the time we finished browsing in there, the shops were closing and it was getting dark (6:00 or so), so we decided to head back to the hotel.

We weren't all that hungry by the time we were ready to return to the hotel, so we just munched on apples, protein bars, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies when we got back to the hotel.  Great dinner really!

Well, that was our first day in Shipshewana, Indiana!  I'll be sharing more with you tomorrow about the day we spent visiting Goshen and Wakarusa.

Until then, all my best to you today!