Christmas with The Plain Folk


“What do the Amish do for Christmas?” “How do Mennonites celebrate Christmas?” This is a question we hear over and over again at our Kidron store and often, on our phone lines. You may be surprised to discover that, at the heart of it, the Amish and Mennonites celebrate just like the rest of us – but maybe a little more quietly.


Celesta, one of our telephone customer service representatives since 2009, shared some details about her family’s Christmas celebrations. In fact, this Christmas is a special one for her, as she and her husband Henry were married in October, and will be celebrating their first Christmas together. “This year, we decorated my first Christmas tree. It was very fun!” she said. A member of the Mennonite Church, Celesta describes her more traditional upbringing and her family’s Christmas activities.

snow buggy“We’re just like everyone else, we like to get to get together, visit, and eat,” she says, laughing. “Our families may be a bit bigger, but we do many of the same things. We go to church, we send Christmas letters and cards to family and friends far away.” Although her parents were raised Amish, they were a bit more liberal than the parents of many of her friends, and so Christmas at their home included Christmas card-making parties, where many of her female relatives would make beautiful cards. “When I was as young as 7, my parents had me start sending Christmas letters to my cousins and far-away family. It’s a way to keep in touch. We did a lot of letter writing, but the Christmas letter was special.”

Although there were no gift exchanges when she was young, all the family that could gathered for Christmas dinner. “We could have 100 to 125 people for Christmas dinner. And we have adult tables and children’s tables, like everyone does.”

Her immediate family had their specific Christmas traditions. “My father would read the Christmas story to us on Christmas morning, every Christmas. We were always together for that.”

Christmas BarnThis Christmas, celebrating with her new in-laws, means that Celesta is part of Christmas tradition that is common to many large families: the name draw! “There could be 25 to 50 of us, and that’s just so many. We all choose one name and find a small gift for the exchange. Some are handmade, and some are purchased.”

“There is one thing I would like people to know,” she said. “Instead of gifts, Christmas is more about family in our homes. If you ask any Amish person what is important, it is about getting together, being with family.”

Originally published on December 18, 2012.

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Enter to Win Your Christmas – On Us!


The Amish Way

The old barn before rebuilding.

An old Amish barn before rebuilding.

A lot of folks idolize the Amish, and envy their way of life — even wishing there was some way they could live like that. It is a good life, but one that requires long hours of hard work, with many less conveniences than the rest of us enjoy. It is possible for any of us to live very simply, but the Amish lifestyle is so intertwined with faith and community, that to truly live like them would almost require joining them or a similar group. The Amish are devoted to a lifetime of living by the Bible and the obeying the rules of the church. Living in community and helping each other is one of the prime factors of their culture — both a blessing and a deep commitment to the group. Continue reading

Have you heard of The Mennonite Game?

The author's Mennonite Grandparents. An Amish couple would almost never pose for a photograph, but Mennonites have accepted most forms of modern technology.

The author’s Mennonite Grandparents. An Amish couple would almost never pose for a photograph, but Mennonites have accepted most forms of modern technology.

“You’re Amish!”

I glanced back to see where the words came from. The kid was staring straight at me.
“No, I’m not,” I replied.

I had just taken my seat on the bus the first day of attending a new school. Twelve years old, and going into the seventh grade, this was a day I had been dreading. It was not easy to be around new people. Now this.

The kid who spoke appeared to be a couple years older than me, and kept staring accusingly. He wasn’t backing down.
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Our Amish Neighbors

All Amish groups are not the same - but why, and what are their differences?

All Amish groups are not the same – but why, and what are their differences?

How about a little lesson? We’ll keep it short and interesting. Let’s call it: Some

things you always wondered about the Amish and Mennonites, but didn’t know who to ask.  

I am a Mennonite who lives in an area of Ohio with a very large Amish and Mennonite population (in fact, it’s the world’s largest).  Allow me to share a very brief overview about the Amish and Mennonites in these parts.

There are four distinct groups of Amish living in the Kidron, Ohio area.
These are:

  • Swartzentrubers
  • Dans, also called Danners
  • Old Order
  • New Order

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Wilderness Reflections

mountain sunriseSometimes I have to go to the wilderness to experience real life, to get away from all things man-made.  It is a place where I will likely become a meal for mosquitoes—where the unexpected is to be expected—a place where there are wolves and bears.  And once there, I will tackle activities that I don’t always feel completely prepared for.  The wilderness answers some of the questions that we have about ourselves.

Can we cope without watches, telephones, running water, and electricity?  Do we have the emotional and physical strength to handle severe weather conditions, or long tedious portages, while our bodies are loaded down with heavy packs and canoes?  The answers are out there. Continue reading

Very Cool Customers … and Their Stories

karen g at may daze

Organic Gardener Karen Geiser enthralls a crowd at Lehman’s May Daze Celebration this past spring.

Organic gardener, author, blog contributor, and mother of five, Karen Geiser, is no stranger to country living. She shares her expert advice with customers just as if they have pulled up a chair on her front porch. . . and all the while shelling peas, pitting cherries, or churning butter (depending on what is in season on her farm). 

We always enjoy hearing about fascinating customer connections that happen in our store. And Karen certainly has the pleasure of interacting with many visitors and hearing their stories!

Here are some recent tidbits she reports:

  • Last week I met folks from Colombia, Costa Rica and Brazil (Must have been Latin America day).
  • A fellow from Pennsylvania visits frequently and always tells me about his garlic (which he got from me) that has won several blue ribbons at the county
    Karen Geiser demonstrates our Dazey Butter Churn, which she uses to make butter with cream from her family's Jersey cow.

    Karen Geiser demonstrates our Dazey Butter Churn, which she uses to make butter with cream from her family’s Jersey cow


  • This week there were many good conversations over edible weeds – around the table were an herbalist from New Mexico and a family from West Virginia who really knew their plants.
  • An interesting couple from Virginia who has lived off grid for many years visited the store to finally buy the luxury of a gas refrigerator – mainly to have ice. It’s hard to believe they could live without a fridge for so long, and they described how they can their butter.
  • This week a lady said she was there from Robinson, IL because she heard me speak at the Master Gardener conference over a year ago. She had no idea she would run into me, and we had a good laugh together as she told me about the things she grew because I recommended them (like mouse melons). I helped her figure out other places to hit for her first adventure in Amish country. She said some of her girlfriends have visited Lehman’s after the conference, too. 

Stop by Lehman’s on Thursdays, from April through early November to visit Karen and learn from her wealth of hands-on knowledge. 

How To: Turn your daytrip into an Amish Country getaway

Think there's nowhere to stay in Amish Country? Think again! The Sojourner's Lodge is just one of your many choices. Nestled on 20 acres including a 3-acre lake, it's a beautiful 10-minute drive from Lehman's store in Kidron.

Think there’s nowhere to stay in Amish Country? Think again! The Sojourner’s Lodge is just one of your many choices. Nestled on 20 acres including a 3-acre lake, it’s a beautiful 10-minute drive from Lehman’s store in Kidron.

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Shonda Miller, Lehman’s Retail Marketing Specialist. Shonda is literally the eyes and ears of our store in Kidron, spearheading large and small events, booking entertainment (and live animal appearances), welcoming tour groups and handling all manner of advertising. Welcome to the blog, Shonda!

For years, the Customer Service Department at Lehman’s has been a sort of unofficial Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. In addition to myriad questions they field daily about products and purchases (How do I light my new oil lamp? Will the teepee I ordered arrive in time for my daughter’s birthday?), they also answer questions about local sights and attractions. After all, while we never set out to be a CVB by any means, Lehman’s is situated in the heart of Amish Country, and we have an insider’s take on this very unique area of Northeast Ohio. So, what can you expect from a trip to Lehman’s? Who visits our store in Kidron, Ohio? What else is there to do in the area? Continue reading

What to Plant: Invite Beautiful, Beneficial Creatures to Your Yard

Our specially selected seed mix contains butterfly favorites like black-eyed susan and dwarf cosmos. At and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Our specially selected seed mix contains butterfly favorites like black-eyed susan and dwarf cosmos. At and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Everyone knows flower gardens are beautiful, but did you know that the type of flowers you plant will affect what kinds of insects and birds you see in your yard? If you want to see lots of beautiful butterflies fluttering about your garden, plant red, purple, orange, pink and yellow flowers with flat tops. These can include snapdragons, lilacs, pansies, goldenrods and day lilies.

Honeysuckle, sage, hibiscus, petunias, desert willow and fuchsia are perfect for attracting hummingbirds. Like most birds, hummingbirds have no sense of smell so the colors of the flowers will attract them.

Scatter these unique seed mixes over prepared soil and watch as annuals begin blooming in 6-8 weeks. At and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Scatter these unique seed mixes over prepared soil and watch as annuals begin blooming in 6-8 weeks. At and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

The bees will help pollinate your flowers and plants, so they’ll produce seeds and you won’t have to spend money on new plants year after year. You might want bees in your garden because they are excellent pollinators, or you may not want them because of their painful sting. Either way, you should know what flowers bees love so you can either plant or avoid them. Bees are attracted to warm-colored blooms, especially ones like fennel, oregano, sunflowers, lion’s tail, salvia, lavender and yarrow.

Birds love flowers with delicious, nutritious seeds like daisies, zinnias, sunflowers and poppies. Remember, birds feed by sight, not by smell.

Ladybugs love bachelor buttons (get it – the ladies love the bachelors?), sweet alyssum, and mountain mints for their high sugar content.

Planting flowers doesn't get more fun than this! Seed slinger with seed bombs at and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Planting flowers doesn’t get more fun than this! Seed slinger with seed bombs at and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Caterpillars are great because they grow up into butterflies, but they can be annoyances because they eat the leaves of your plants. Nevertheless, if you’re willing to put up with tiny creatures munching on your leaves in order to one day enjoy gorgeous butterflies, try planting buckwheat, dragon sagebrush, parsley, fennel and wild back cherries.

Flower gardens are a wonderful addition to any home, but make sure you’re informed about you’ll be attracting when you plant yours.

Heirloom Recipes for Pi Day

Keep Calm and Bake a PieHomemade pie. Really, who doesn’t love it?! Celebrate Pi Day (that’s 3/14!) with these unique, mouthwatering pies from Lehman’s staff. We did a quick office poll, and these two family favorites stood out from the rest.

Grandma RaymondMattie’s Cottage Pie
From Michael, Lehman’s Web Developer:

Michael has an Amish background, so he shared the origin of the interesting one word Amish nickname  in the pie’s title. The Amish have large families and a somewhat limited pool of first names, so they put a husband and wife’s name together to differentiate people. Michael says, “We actually used that quite a bit in my dad’s family. We have 3 Amanda Millers, my sister, my dad’s sister and also one of my dad’s sister-in-laws. So growing up, it used to be DaveManda, Mark’s Mom (or Sister ‘manda), and Little ‘Manda, although we don’t use those names as much anymore.”

According to Michael, the following recipe was always the highlight of Thanksgiving dinner (along with pumpkin pie, of course).

Grandma RaymondMattie’s Cottage Pie
(Makes 4 pies)

This recipe is just for the pie filling. Prepare four raw pie shells beforehand.cottage pies

Bottom (Karo) Filling:
1 cup sugar
2 cups dark karo syrup
2 cups water
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Mix the ingredients for the bottom in blender for 1 minute. Divide evenly into four parts and pour into pie shells.

Assemble the pie top:pieceofpie
2 cups sugar
1 egg
½ cup Crisco
1 cup sour cream
3 cups flour

Mix ingredients by hand. Using a spoon, drop spoonfuls of the mixture on top of the karo filling in the pie shells.

Bake at 350 for 45 – 50 minutes until the center is firm.

The two layers blend during the baking process, but you wind up with a firm, almost cake-like upper portion and a thin layer of liquid at the bottom, right above the pie crust.


Sour Cream Raisin Pie with Meringue Topping
From Andi, Lehman’s Data Analyst:

This pie probably hails from Iowa, where Andi’s mom first tasted it at a sorority function before she started school at Iowa State University. Andi says, “My mom makes her Iowa Pie Crust and Dad makes the filling. In our family, it’s called David and Pepa’s Sour Cream Raisin Pie because when my son David (who just turned 17!) was a toddler, he helped my dad, who he calls Pepa, make the pie.”

Heritage Blue Stripe Stoneware 8" Pie Pan

Heritage Blue Stripe Stoneware 8″ Pie Pan

Sour Cream Raisin Pie

Pie filling:
1.5  cup raisins
1.5 cup brown sugar
1.5 cup sour cream
3 egg yolks
3 T. water
3 T flour
1 t. vanilla

1 baked pie shell

Heat raisins, sugar, and sour cream to boiling – stir to keep from burning.

Beat egg yolks with water; add flour. Mix well until smooth.
Gradually add to raisin mixture, stirring constantly until it returns to a boil.
Remove from heat and add vanilla.
Pour into baked pie shell.
Add meringue.

4 egg whites
1 t. cream of tartar
4 t. sugar

Beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar. Beat until stiff enough to hold a peak. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy. Top pie, sealing edges with meringue.

Bake at 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Bon appetit, pie lovers! Find lots of cool pie tools here – some hail from our moms’ and grandmoms’ day!