Archive for August, 2011

Famous Pennsylvania Dutch Sticky Cinnamon Buns
1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup milk, scalded
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 cups sifted flour, divided
3 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 cup chopped raisins
2 tablespoons currants
2 tablespoons finely chopped citron
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons brown sugar

Soften yeast in warm water and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

Add milk to sugar and salt. Mix and cool to lukewarm.

Add 1 cup flour and mix until smooth. Stir in yeast. Add remaining flour mixing well. Knead dough on floured board until smooth. Put in greased bowl, grease top, cover with towel and let rise in warm room until double.

Punch down dough, and roll into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Brush with the softened butter and spread with mixture of raisins, currants, citron, the 1/4 cup brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up like a jellyroll and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Lay the slices in a buttered 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan. Cover and let rise until doubled.

Sprinkle top with the 3 tablespoons brown sugar. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes. Published with permission from recipe goldmine. Richard from Amish Stories.



Wanda signing books for fans in Florida.


Wanda at a book signing in Ohio

Book signing at an Amish friend’s home

 Wanda Brunstetter  the very popular Amish fiction writer will be in Lancaster Pennsylvania and Ohio in September for a book signing for her new book  “The Healing“. I was asked by her if i wanted to mention to Amish Storie readers her book signing stops in my area. I sent Wanda a note telling her that id be happy to pass along to the readers her Schedule for her Lancaster and Ohio appearances’s. Richard from Amish Stories.

Come meet Wanda


September 6, 2011  
06:00 PM to 08:00 PM

1341 Mickley Rd, Whitehall, PA 18052
September 9, 2011
05:00 PM to 07:00 PM

Shady Maple Restaurant 129 Toddy Drive, East Earl, PA 17519
September 10, 2011
12:00 PM to 02:00 PM

2320 Industrial Highway, York, PA 17402
September 12, 2011
11:00 AM to 01:00 PM

Bird in Hand Restaurant 2760 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505
September 13, 2011
04:00 PM to 06:00 PM

Miller’s Smorgasbord 2811 Lincoln Highway East (Route 30), Ronks, PA 17572
September 14, 2011
04:00 PM to 06:00 PM

Plain & Fancy Farm and Gift Shop at the Amish Experience 3121 Old Philadelphia Pike (Route 340), Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505
———————————————————                                              Ohio                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   September 17, 2011 dinner and Booksigning in an Amish Home  04:00 PM to 06:00 PM
Dinner served at 6:00pm. Call 1-330-893-3248 or visit Amish Heartland Tours for reservations. Sugarcreek, OH
    September 19, 2011
04:00 PM to 06:00 PM

 Dinner and Booksigning in an Amish Home Dinner served at 6:00pm. Call 1-330-893-3248 or visit Amish Heartland Tours for reservations. Sugarcreek, OH
September 20, 2011
11:30 AM to 01:30 PM

Lunch and Booksigning in an Amish Home Call 1-740-754-1833 or visit Eastern Ohio Tours for reservations.

Fresno, OH
September 23, 2011
10:00 AM to 01:00 PM

The Gospel Shop Walnut Creek Amish Flea Market, 1900 State Route 39, Sugarcreek, OH 44681
September 23, 2011
03:00 PM to 05:00 PM

The Gospel Shop Walnut Creek Amish Flea Market, 1900 State Route 39, Sugarcreek, OH 44681
September 24, 2011
10:00 AM to 01:00 PM

Gospel Bookstore Holmes County Flea Market, 4550 State Route 39, Millersburg, OH 44654
September 24, 2011
03:00 PM to 05:00 PM

Gospel Bookstore Holmes County Flea Market, 4550 State Route 39, Millersburg, OH 44654

Win  a Dinner with Wanda in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania !

Would you like to meet Wanda in person? Will you be in the Lancaster County, PA area on Tuesday, September 13th? If you answered yes to both questions, enter the “Dinner with Wanda in Lancaster County, PA” drawing today.

The winner of the drawing will be entitled to bring along one friend to join Wanda and her husband for a free dinner at Miller’s Smorgasbord in Ronks, PA on Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 6 p.m. The dinner will follow Wanda’s book signing there.

To be eligible for this drawing you must either live in the area of Lancaster County, PA or plan to visit there on September 13th. The winner will also receive a free set of autographed books by Wanda.
To enter  contest or for more information just click
Dont miss old order Mennonite Jeans post this coming Tuesday, with first time pictures of Jeans home!

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Country Road Cycles
Another Amish food stand, not the one i went to though.
Amish food stand where i bit-off more than i could chew. Notice the bottle of pickles in the center of the scooter!
Since i had a blast with my first “Lancaster on 2 wheels” during the spring, I’ve decided to do a second post this time really traveling a little more out to the back roads of Lancaster county. This post has a cute story that i will go into towards the end of the post. So i drove over to Country Road Cycles on Ronks road in Bird in Hand,Pa to rent another scooter. I’m not receiving anything for saying this but these folks are super nice and courteous and will answer any questions that you might have to make your scooter experience the best possible. When someone is nice to me that goes a very long way even if the price is slightly higher, which in this case wouldn’t really be true because Country Road cycles is on par with others who rent scooters price wise. Now if your looking for something say a little faster they do have a faster scooter that you can rent along with an even faster motorcycle (licenses do apply for anything over 49cc). Now for my cute little story, after getting my map for my scooter route i decided to drive over to one of Lancaster’s covered bridges. Before the covered bridge there is a Amish food stand sitting smartly about 100  feet from the bridge itself, so i decided to make a pit stop for a cold glass of homemade root beer and who knows what else!. As you can see in my pictures these folks make a lot of stuff, so to make my choice’s a little easier i wanted to buy a pie and some bottled items. Well i was eying my poison until i thought to myself “where the heck am i going to put everything”, I’m riding on a scooter!. I must have said that loud enough for those little Amish children behind the food stand counter to hear me. And then i heard back ” you can fit all your things in there”, so i had to peek over the counter to see these 3 small Amish children smiling and telling me that i could buy more stuff. Talk about the future of the Amish business, with these 3 kids the future looks extremely bright indeed. After hearing and feeling positive vibes from these young Amish geniuses i walked over to the scooter and started gently pulling and pushing and turning anything that looked like i could pop the seat. Even their dad got into the picture with trying to help me figure out how to get more stuff on this scooter other than a bottle of pickles,lol. All i had that i knew was a cup holder built into the handle bars, with i was now  using for that  jar of pickles. Well after myself and the Amish gentleman spent a little time trying to figure out how to pop the seat, i gave-up and proclaimed myself lucky to be at least leaving with those pickles. Part 2 of this post will be next Friday along with an Amish recipe.. To rent a scooter please visit the really nice folks at :

Country Road Cycles.  220 N. Ronks Road
Bird in Hand, PA 17505
 If you tell them you heard about them from Amish Stories I’m told you will get a $5.00 discount from your rental.

(717) 598-3191

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It is 6:30 a.m. on August 11. I am sitting beside daughter Verena’s bed at the children’s hospital. She had surgery on her foot yesterday and was admitted to the hospital. Doctors were just in here to see her but are not sure if she will be able to go home today. She had some pain through the night but is now taking some pain medicine and sleeping really well. Since the surgery the feeling is back in her right leg and foot. It had been numb from her knee on down since the end of May. We are very excited to see that her feeling is back since the surgery. She’ll have to wear a hard cast for 4 to 6 weeks. The cast comes up to her knee. At night time to go to bed she has to wear a brace on her whole leg to keep it straight. We are also so thankful that her post-concussions have not reoccurred for 2 1 /2 months. We pray they are gone for good. Hopefully she is now on the road to permanent good health.

Daughters Elizabeth and Susan are done de-tasseling corn for this year. I am glad they are finished so that they can be home with the rest of the children while my husband Joe goes to work. Joe did take the day off from the factory yesterday to be up here at the hospital while Verena had her surgery. Our good friend Ruth took time out of her schedule to bring us here. She stayed here with us all day. We sure appreciate what she does to help us out.

This is now Saturday afternoon August 13. Verena ended up having to stay at the hospital until last night. We didn’t arrive home until 8 p.m. I was really glad to see all the children again. Jacob, Emma, and family brought in our supper. It was nice not to have to fix a meal after arriving home. I think daughter Elizabeth was glad for the break also. Her and Susan worked hard but did a good job of fixing the meals and taking care of their younger siblings while we were away. On Friday morning Elizabeth called us at the hospital at 5 a.m. to tell us all our horses were out on the road.. They had some excitement but with the help of others they soon had them back in the field. The horses must have pushed open a gate that was left unlatched.

Elizabeth and Susan took the five youngest children to he dentist for their cleaning on Friday. They took our horse Diamond and the buggy to the dentist office in town I was glad when they called the hospital to let us know they were all home safe and sound. While we were out at the hospital we received the sad, shocking news of the death of a 38-year-old single male in our community. He was killed instantly in a farm accident while making hay. Life is so uncertain. Only God knows when our time here on earth is done.

Joe and the boys did a lot of weeding in the garden. Makes it look a lot better. Hopefully we can get caught up with the garden now. It looks like canning will be in full swing for the next couple of weeks. Tomatoes, hot peppers, red beets, and more green beans are all ready to be canned. I switched my order for peaches until next week when I found out Verena would have to stay at the hospital after surgery. We are still getting quite a few zucchinis form the garden so I will share my zucchini brownies recipe.


4 eggs

1 1 ½ cup oil

2 cups white sugar

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups shredded and peeled zucchini

1 cup nuts

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, beat together eggs, oil, and sugar. In a separate medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, soda, cinnamon, salt, and cocoa. Add to egg, oil, and sugar mixture. Then add vanilla, zucchini and nuts. Mix all together and spread onto a greased 10 X 15 jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Can be frosted but are also really good just plain. reprinted with permission from  Richard from Amish Stories. Dont miss Fridays post “Lancaster on 2 wheels folks, great images from Lancasters Amish country side.

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These images were taken during spring time, which has become one of my favorite seasons behind fall. Since i moved up from Florida I’m still very sensitive to the heat, which i hated and never got used to while living in the deep south. On my travels between Lebanon and Lancaster county’s i receive some curiosity from the Amish regarding what a blog is or what will i do with the pictures that I’m taking. I’m getting the impression that some of the  younger  Amish are now understanding the good points to being involved with the Internet and its bad points. While the older folks don’t really seem to want or think they would even need it even if they have a business that could benefit from it.  But as more and more of the Amish turning to English web developers to create web sites to help grow their businesses , the pressure will only increase on those Amish who have not jumped on board to the information supper highway. Richard from Amish Stories.

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Jean is old order Mennonite from New York State.Jean and her husband David and family live on a dairy farm, and travel their community using horse and buggy. She tells her story exclusively on Amish Stories.

One of the questions that was asked is what do we think of the legal system?. We believe the bible at Romans 12:2 “Be not conformed to the world.” and also 1st John 2:15 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”. Because of our way we do not sue people, we do not join the military, we will not be on a jury that has capital punishment, we do not hold political office, most of us do not vote, we do not swear an oath (even on the Bible in court), most do not collect Social Security, and more. Even though David has worked at places and paid his Social Security he will not collect when his time comes. We do sell much of our crops to the government to use for food to the military-we do not have any special contracts. Our belief is we should take care of our people not let the world take care of us. We do pay all our taxes-in New York we have federal taxes and state tax plus school tax, and town tax. If something should happen and we need a police officer, I think we would call before some of the other people because David knows most of the police officers due to the fact that he is a fireman-and policemen also come to the fires. The only firearm  we have is David’s hunting rifle which David has to have a license for. His picture is not on the license-so far.

Most of the Old Order Mennonite’s and Amish buy property from word of mouth. Before David and I got married we looked at some property down state that we were thinking of buying. We heard because some other Old Order Mennonite told us about it. The people that told us had heard about it from some Amish friends. In the end we bought David’s parents house that we still live in. When we wanted to sell some of our property we gave word to all our Old Order Mennonite family and friends. Through word of mouth it got to the Amish couple that bought it and we helped build their house and barn on. The reason we bought the property was that the man was selling the property for someone to build a house subdivision there. Not wanting that in our back yard, we purchased the property-through a Real Estate Broker. Some of the property is bought and sold through Real Esate People, but for  most of us is word of mouth. We do not use lawyers unless it is absolutely necessary.

We read in the paper that the Hershbergers 12 children that lost both of their Amish parents in the van accident are being adopted by their Aunt and Uncle. It is wonderful that they would sell their home property and move into Hershberger home. Aunt and Uncle had no children and soon they will have twelve. We do believe in legal assistance in adopting children. Martha and Joseph have adopted four children. We are considering adopting children. Martha wants to tell how she and Joseph got their current farm so here is Martha.

Martha : Hello Everyone. When Joseph and I got married we bought a real small farm with plans of paying it off and buying a bigger one. Two years later we had our first son, I was with child and we became foster parents to 3 more children-two boys and one girl. We had foster children before, but none stayed very long-they went back to their parents or were moved on to other homes. The three that came this time had lost their parents in an automobile accident. Their grandparents could take care of the them for a week or weekend, but health wise could not take them full time. My child that came was a son. So now we had four boys and one girl. Again, I was with child. Joseph and I wanted to legally adopted our foster children. They were members of our family as far as we were concerned. Social Services came out and said that we did not have enough bedrooms-we either had to add on to this one or buy a bigger house. With Old Order Mennonite the matter is not buying a house-but its the farm we must change. We had to sell ours and buy a bigger one. The major place for our money was in our farm-we had some in the bank-but most in our farm. If we did not get another farm we could not only adopt the children, but they  would have to be removed to a family with a bigger house-which might mean dividing them.

We got the  word  out  that our farm was for sale and we started looking at other farms. As none of the word  of mouth farms were what we needed-either the house was too small or the fields were. Finally we went to Real Estate people. After looking at several farms-we found our perfect farm. The house was bigger enough-in fact we could have more children. Fields were big enough to support our family. The problem was money. Even if we sold our farm we would not have the money to put down on the farm. Joseph’s parents offered some money-my parents offered money, but we turned it down as we would have two mortgages to pay. We knew that our parents wouldn’t let us lose the farm, but there is such a thing as getting in over your head and after going over our finances we  knew we were heading that way.

It got so we had less than a month to get a bigger farm or the foster children would be taken from us. We had prayed, many, many days. Finally we were thinking that maybe they weren’t meant to be our children. It would break our hearts as far as we were concerned they were our family-but we knew we had to do God’s will. We got a purchase offer on our farm-but now we had no place to go. All we could remember is that farm we wanted. The Real Estate contract with the owners had expired and it had not been re-listed. Trusting in God, Joseph and I signed the purchase offer so the people could buy our farm. Now where do we go?

Two nights later, we got a telephone call from the couple that owned the farm we wanted. They asked us to come over and take a look at it again. We had to bring the children as we didn’t have time to get a sitter. Joseph and I went through the house while the children played. We told the people we loved the house, but we couldn’t afford it. Every down payment the man came up with-we couldn’t afford. All the monthly payments he mentioned we couldn’t pay. Finally we went home. We told both Joseph’s parents and my parents about the house. The next day the man that owned the farm called and said: ” Are you really foster parents?”. We said yes. He says the farm is yours. I’ll get my lawyer to make out a purchase offer with a down payment and payments you can afford it’s yours and he hung up before we could say anything. We thought it was someone playing a joke on us.

That night they came over with the purchase with a down payment we could afford and the payments that fit right into our budget. We signed it and asked them whey they were selling the place so low. He said he would tell me some day. I mean we got in that house for a lot less that it was on the market for when the Real Estate people had it. Finally it closed, we moved in. The boys had two to a room and  the girls have two to a room, Joseph and I have a room and we still have bedrooms left over. The farm was such a success we paid it off in just than 10 years and we still had money in the bank. Of course we adopted the three children and one more plus we natural had more children. We now have 10 children-6 boys and 4 girls. After the last payment the people we bought the farm from asked if they could come over. We invited them to dinner. After dinner and the little children were in bed and the older ones were outside playing he told us why he sold us the house. He had been a foster child and when he found out we were foster parents and needed the big house-he also knew we had to have it. God works in mysterious ways. I hope Richard will put a picture of our house in here. God is with you, Martha

Speaking of foster children David and I have recently gotten a baby girl foster child. The baby was born and the mother immediately signed her over to foster parents. As the mother had drug problems, the baby is going through withdrawals. Mother didn’t name her so we have will have to give this beautiful little girl a name. Marilyn saw her when she came to take the pictures of our farm and fell in love with her. This little baby cries so much from the withdrawal, but we hope she get through that soon. We and the doctors are working to make her better.
Be with god. Jean

Martha’s family farm in New York State. (All images taken by Marilyn)

Martha’s home
Martha and  Joseph’s barn


Martha’s House with barn .
Jean and Martha’s  Old order Mennonite church.

Martha’s home and the family buggy on left of image.


Don’t miss a new post this Wednesday of Lebanon county’s Amish settlement, with the Amish cook this Thursday. And my special post called “Lancaster on 2 wheels” the sequel this Friday. I ride a scooter  through Lancaster county’s Amish community and take images of the country side, along with a cute story !

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Summer Beet Soup

Put the ham hock in a 6-quart pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil, skim off scum, reduce the heat, and simmer until tender– about 1½ hours. Remove the hock and take off all the meat, cutting it into bite-size pieces. discard bone, Put meat back in the pan with the cabbage, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, beets, dill, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook slowly for at least 20 minutes. remove sprigs of dill and thyme, if used. Add beet tops and cook 2 minutes until wilted. Remove pan from heat and stir in the sour cream and chives just before serving. This is best served in deep soup plates or large bowls.
Makes 6 servings
2 lbs. smoked ham hock or ham end

water to cover ham
1 med. head green cabbage, shredded or diced

2 med. onions, chopped
3 med. potatoes, peeled and diced
2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 c. peeled and sliced red beets

3 sprigs fresh or 1 t. dried dill
3 sprigs fresh or 1/2 t. dried thyme
2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 c. chopped beet tops
1/2 c. sour cream
2 T. chopped chives
Betty Groff’s newly revised and illustrated Country Goodness Cookbook is a virtual cornucopia of family recipes and home-spun anecdotes. This 326 page soft-cover edition has seasonal menus, common sense cooking, and microwave ideas. As an added bonus this book is autographed by the author.

Betty Groffs Country Goodness Cookbook. To order this book please go to  Richard from Amish Stories.          New post from Jean with some help from Martha this Tuesday, along with pictures for the very fist time of Martha’s  House and buggy. Then Wednesday will be an all new post from me of Lebanons Amish settlement, along with the Amish cook posted on Thursday. And don’t miss This Friday my big post called “Lancaster on 2 wheels” the sequel  as i travel the Amish country side on a scooter !.

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Amish home

Yes this water pump works
I’m not sure what these Amish ladies were doing, but they waved after i took this picture.
Told you it worked, as i pumped it a little after the first image was taken.
Ive never been to this food auction, but I’m sure there are a good amount of Amish folks  selling here.

And a typical Lebanon county farm, which to me means beautiful.

The Story of the Hex Sign

Over a period of many years, the story evolved that local Pennsylvania German farmers put colorful symbols called “hex signs” on their barns to keep the evil spirits away or to bring good luck. That at first seems to make sense in that the word “hex” means “witch” in German. The tourist industry helped to get the “hex sign” myth going and the term appeared in print around the mid-1930’s. But scholars are still arguing over the origins and meanings behind what we now call hex signs. As with many of our local customs, we need to go back to Europe.

The use of stars and circles in art and decoration goes back thousands of years. These “folk art” designs of rosettes, stars, circles, and the “Tree of Life” with their connection to the sun, nature, and the celestial, can be seen on everything from tombstones and birth certificates, to furniture and plates. Over the hundreds of years that these basic designs have been used, there are certainly times when the symbols may have had an association with superstition or religion. And, since the use of these designs on houses and buildings in Europe was relatively rare, their unique application on barns in Pennsylvania fueled the hex sign idea. But even though the Pennsylvania Dutch were often a superstitious lot, the use of hex signs is restricted to a fairly limited area.

A more recent, and more accepted interpretation of the hex sign is as an indicator of “ethnic symbolism.” As Don Yoder and Thomas Graves say in their excellent book HEX SIGNS, published by Stackpole Books, “the meanings we find in the hex signs are ethnic identity, ethnic pride, and the pure joy of colorful decoration.” They noted that the increased use and public display of these decorations might have had something to do with the State’s efforts to “rid the Pennsylvania Dutch of their distinctive culture, using the state school system to mount a systematic stamping out of the German language.”

Indeed, the earliest documented hex signs on barns date back to the later half of the 19th century, perhaps because barns weren’t generally painted at all much before 1830. But it wasn’t until around 1940 that painters started making hex signs that could be purchased and mounted on barns and other buildings. Visitors to the area wondered what these colorful decorations meant. They soon started to appear on tourist literature and on products made in the area, becoming an easy way to “identify” the food or product as coming from the Pennsylvania Dutch region.

Meanwhile, various novels and stories about the area tended to emphasize (and exaggerate) many customs of the Pennsylvania Dutch, often pairing the Amish and hex signs together. For example, the Broadway musical Plain & Fancy even had a scene in which an Amishman put a “hex” on his neighbor’s barn! (Interestingly, the Amish did not adopt the custom of decorating their barns, and do not use hex signs to this day.)

Of course, scholars tried to dispel some of these ideas. In 1953, Alfred Shoemaker, of Franklin & Marshall College’s Pennsylvania Folklore Center, wrote a booklet titled HEX, NO! He concludes with the following comment, “I must say with absolute honesty that I have never found a single shred of evidence to substantiate any other conclusion but this: ‘hex signs’ are used but for one purpose, and to put it in the Pennsylvania Dutchman’s own words, ‘chust for nice.’ “

Indeed, for locals and visitors, hex signs are displayed because they are pretty, plain and simple. Over the years, many “new designs” were developed as part of the commercial hex sign business. Many of these are rooted in traditional folk art, such as the “distlefink,” a bird design that now symbolizes good luck and, not surprisingly, the shamrock! Many “hexologists” today create new designs and ascribe the meanings to them, based on the combinations and symbolism involved.

All of this brings us to the town of Paradise and Jacob Zook, “the Hex Man.” According to an old brochure from his shop, “Paradise is where it all started in 1942. Intrigued by some hex signs obtained from a salesman, Jacob Zook endeavored to learn everything he could about these quaint, colorful pieces of Americana. It really began to come together upon meeting Johnny Ott, who taught Jacob the art and lore of the Hex sign. Mr. Zook started painting signs and eventually built up a local following and, with increased publicity, a national reputation as well.”

I had the pleasure of meeting Jacob a few years before his death. He was a little man full of energy with good stories to tell. It was clear to me that his personality had much to do with the proliferation of these colorful designs through the technique of silk-screening.

Over the years, I have heard of people who request a special custom-designed hex sign be made for them, to help with some special problem they had. I once talked to a couple who told me in all seriousness that the “fertility” hex sign they had purchased definitely worked for them! And the Internet has brought the colorful patterns and designs to people all over the world. For visitors to Lancaster County, hex signs remain a colorful and delightful gift or souvenir, as they are truly something unique to the Pennsylvania Dutch area. As Yoder and Graves note at the conclusion of their book, “the hex sign speaks to us and beckons us, as if by magic, into the spirit of the place and into the heart of the people who painted them.”

Amish Country News  Article by  Brad Igou.  Published with permission. Richard from Amish Stories.             Amish  Recipe of the week this Sunday

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