November Archives

Steubenville Nutcracker Village


Eastern Ohio’s Newest Attraction:
Steubenville Nutcracker Village

This November, downtown Steubenville will be transformed into a holiday destination as the second annual Steubenville Nutcracker Village and Advent Market presented by Trinity Health System opens for the season.

This unique attraction features over one hundred life-sized Nutcrackers, each one representing a well-known character, mascot or profession. These colorful figures are arrayed beneath the twinkling arches of Fort Steuben Park allowing people to take photos as they recognize familiar personalities or literary heroes such as Dr. Who, St. Francis, Scrooge, the Italian Gondolier, Patrolman Holiday, the Phantom of the Opera and Steubenville’s own Dean Martin. Designed and fabricated in the city by Nelson’s of Steubenville, the Nutcrackers will be on display day and night from November 22 through January 8.

Nutcrackers will also be among the holiday themed décor that will fill the Exhibit Hall in the Fort Steuben Visitor Center where the Christmas Wonderland welcomes young and old. Amidst a variety of Christmas trees, there will be retro toys, music, and novelties to evoke memories of Christmas Past. Youngsters can write letters to Santa and take photos on Magic, the Holiday Horse. Collectible nutcrackers, books, puzzles and gift items are on sale in the Fort Steuben Gift Shop, open daily in the Visitor Center from 10am to 6pm.

Weekends will bring additional activities for family fun and memory-making. Beginning the Friday following Thanksgiving, artisans will offer specialty crafts and baked goods in Holiday Chalets as part of the Advent Market. Shoppers can browse and purchase homemade fudge, doll clothes, woodcrafts, local honey, wooden toys, grapevine wreaths, herbal products as well as locally produced Nutcracker souvenirs. Food booths will offer traditional European treats such as bratwurst, potato dishes and desserts. Entertainment by area performers, church and school choirs and popular bands will fill the air with holiday music. Steubenville’s historic churches will shine through magnificent stained glass windows as visitors take evening hayrides through the city streets. An incredibly detailed Miniature Railroad exhibit will delight the young and recapture memories for adults. For a small fee, guests can board the Holly Trolley to take a memorable ride to holiday sites. The Market will be open from 4pm-9pm on Fridays and Saturdays, 1pm-6pm on Sundays.

The annual Sights and Sounds of Christmas Parade on December 10th will feature the theme “Nutcracker Magic.” There are expected to be over 80 units including bands, dance troupes and floats that will travel down 4th Street and reflect the holiday spirit. The nearby Advent Market will be open from noon to 9pm that day.

New this year is an original musical production based on the Steubenville Nutcracker Village and using the familiar melodies of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. The Wooden Heart Follies will be performed at the Masonic Hall, 227 N. 4th Street, on four Sunday afternoons (Nov. 27, Dec. 4, Dec. 11 & Dec. 18); tickets are $7 for adults, $4 for students and free for children under 6. They can be obtained in advance at the Visitor Center or on-line by clicking here or at the door.

The stars of the event, of course, will be the delightful Nutcrackers themselves.  Nelson’s of Steubenville founder and manager Mark Nelson explained the process. “We began as woodcrafters and our team of craftsmen simply adapted the tools and equipment to produce a light weight product made from a dense foam. My daughter Therese is the artist who designs and oversees the painting of the Nutcrackers. We produced 37 last year, but had such an enthusiastic response that we have added 75 more, each with an individual personality and sponsor. Our crew is as excited about it as the community!”

Judy Bratten, director of Historic Fort Steuben and the Visitor Center, noted that last year’s event drew thousands of people to the downtown. “It was a wonderful time for families, friends and visitors from out of town who said it was magical! Everyone was filled with the joy of the season and we expect to have the same response again this year. We are especially grateful for all the businesses, organizations and individuals listed in the program guide who have come together to make our Nutcracker Village a reality.”

Visitors are invited to explore the various shops and restaurants in downtown Steubenville while the Nutcracker Village is open. Browsers enjoy the Antique Warehouse, three floors filled with antiques, collectibles and crafts from over 100 dealers, or Adams Antiques, where you can relive yesteryear, today. Love to wander through book stores? BookMarx Books features both used and new editions as well as gifts and artwork. The Classic Corner Restaurant with its art deco design offers entertainment as well as meals; or you can enjoy traditional Italian fare at Naples Spaghetti House where Dean Martin used to dine. The Visitor Center provides directions and suggestions for shopping, dining and lodging as well as hosting the Nutcracker Village.

The Steubenville Nutcracker Village and Advent Market will be found at Fort Steuben Park and Visitor Center, 120 S. 3rd Street, Steubenville OH; for more information, call 866-301-1787 or visit the website by clicking here.

Winans Chocolates + Coffees


Winans Chocolates + Coffees Pairs Everyone’s Favorite Tropical Treats

By Courtney Denning

Coffee and chocolate seem like they were made for each other. Coffee’s rich, earthy brew perfectly complements chocolate’s smooth, creamy sweetness. The combination of chocolate and coffee is one of the best food combos out there, akin to peanut butter and jelly, wine and cheese, chips and salsa. They just fit.

One reason coffee and chocolate pair perfectly may be because they come from the same tropical environments: rainforests. Coffee originated Ethiopia (the Horn of Africa); chocolate is native to Mexico and Guatemala in South America. Today both are grown in South America and Africa. Both come from tropical, evergreen trees and must go through labor-intensive processes before they are consumed. It’s a lengthy process, but so worth it!

Joe Reiser decided to create that perfect flavor combination when he and his wife, Laurie Winans Reiser, added coffee, to their well-established chocolate product line, at Winans Carriage House Candies in 1994. At the time, there were no coffee shops in Piqua, Ohio — the location of Winans Carriage House Candies since October 1961. To get his daily caffeine fix, Joe drove to Dayton (just over 30 miles one way) for a cup of good coffee. As one might imagine, this arrangement didn’t and couldn’t’ last long. Joe bought a small espresso machine and stuck it in a corner of the chocolate shop. It was “Joe’s Corner” but it quickly became popular with regular Winans customers. Coffee was officially added to the company in 1994 and Joe began roasting his own coffee in 2003. Joe and Laurie also changed the name of the company, to reflect the addition of coffee. Winans founder, Max Winans, was skeptical, saying “it would never work.” Fortunately, Max lived to eat those words.

Winans has won “The Best Coffee” award for seven years running via the Dayton Business Journal’s “Best of” awards, proving that coffee and chocolate work together. The freshly roasted coffees pair so well with Winans traditional chocolates that they’ve become an inseparable pair. Customers can order a cup of coffee and pick out their favorite chocolates from the candy case for an early morning wake-up or late afternoon treat. At the flagship store in Piqua, customers watch their favorite treats being made. The flagship store not only serves as the Winans corporate office but also houses the company’s candy factory, coffee roastery, and warehouse.

When the Piqua Daily Call newspaper building became available for purchase in the summer of 2014, the Reisers decided to take a plunge. At that point, the retail store was in the recently renovated Fort Plaza Hotel along with the Piqua Library. The roastery was in the garage of the original Winans Carriage House, where the company started in the 1960s. The candy factory was in yet another location, a non-descript building on the south end of town. Moving to the former Piqua Daily Call building put the retail store, factory, roastery, and corporate offices all under one roof. The new Winans Hometown Store + Tasting Room officially opened in August 2015. It’s one of fifteen Winans stores, 14 of which are located in the state of Ohio. One Winans obsessed Iowan opened a franchise after leaving Piqua to return to her hometown of Coralville, Iowa.

The success of Winans and the popularity of their new factory tours, which allow customers to go behind the scenes and watch candies being made and learn about the production of coffee and chocolate in South America, show that coffee and chocolates’ relationship has what it takes to go long term!

Visit Winans Hometown Store + Tasting Room and see the candy factory in action! Learn Winans’ family history, see their famous copper kettles and one of the world’s oldest working Hobart mixers. You might see buckeyes, caramels, brittles or wurtles being made! “Wurtles” are Winans’ version of the whimsically named chocolate turtle. To schedule a tour, call 937-773-1981.

Winans Hometown Store + Tasting Room is located at 310 Spring Street in Piqua, Ohio. Contact Winans at 937-773-1981, or Follow @WinansChocolate on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter.  Click here to read their blog: Joe on the Go!

Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics

Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics

A Place of Peace, Prayer and Hospitality

Looking at the quiet farm land of Mercer County gives no evidence of the harsh forest and swamp that the early German settlers contended with on their arrival in the mid-1830s. Many were Catholic and understood the need for help from God to survive.  Their deep faith urged them to build churches where they met despite the fact that they had no clerical minister to serve them. These churches, which now dot the landscape some three miles apart and make up the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches State Scenic Byway, were built in such close proximity because of the difficult travel.

Bishop Purcell of Cincinnati became aware of the needs of these humble German-speaking people, and while in Europe, searched for a German-speaking missionary who would be willing to come to America to serve these noble folk. Fr. Francis de Sales Brunner, a Swiss priest and Precious Blood Missionary, encountered Bishop Purcell and came to Ohio in 1843.

Fr. Brunner and his Mother, Maria Anna Brunner, established the Sisters of the Precious Blood in 1834 in Switzerland. In 1844, six Sisters of the Precious Blood arrived in New Riegle, Ohio and began their nightly vigils of prayer.  In September 1846 eight sisters from the New Riegle Convent began perpetual adoration at Maria Stein in the original motherhouse convent. Sisters have prayed and ministered at Maria Stein without interruption since their arrival. Maria Stein is the last of 10 foundations established by Fr. Brunner.

Today the main attraction is the relic chapel which was dedicated in 1892. The chapel has more than 1,000 relics including those from all four Gospel writers and all but one of the apostles. Honoring the Saints with their relics was a common way of expressing devotion to the Saints.  Fr. Brunner was an ardent collector of relics.  He brought a few with him on his first voyage to America. In 1845 he was presented with a gift of 600 relics.  In 1875 a collection of 175 relics was brought to Maria Stein and placed in the care of the Sisters.  Relics of more recent Saints have been added including Saint Teresa of Calcutta and Pope John XXIII.  The shrine is home to the second-largest collection of holy relics in the United States.

In the old convent building there is a gift shop located on the first floor. It carries many articles of devotion, statues, and décor.  On the second floor pilgrims are treated to a museum with a history of the Sisters and early rural life in Mercer County.  The outside patio is adorned with pictures of the area churches that dot the country side hanging on the walls. A statue garden of various saints provides a quiet place for reflection and prayer.

Looking towards the future the Sisters of the Precious Blood are now turning to the laity to secure the future of the landmark Maria Stein Shrine. The sisters are deeding the building and 24 acres of land to the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics, an established 501c3 nonprofit corporation which will assume operations of the shrine on Jan. 1, 2017.

“Although education was once the primary ministry, the sisters never forgot the importance of the holy relics housed at the convent at Maria Stein, now the Shrine,” said Sister Joyce Lehman, C.PP.S., president of the congregation, “After more than 180 years of caring for the relics, we realize now that we would need the help of the laity in new ways to ensure the shrine’s future.”

The Legacy Fund has been established to help support and continue the ministries at the shrine for future generations.  It was determined that a $6,000,000 fund will generate the earnings needed to replace the annual gift the Sisters of the Precious Blood made toward the ministries of the shrine and provide adequate income for maintenance and operations.

The first $2,000,000 has been donated by the Sisters of the Precious Blood. An anonymous donor has committed up to $2,000,000 in matching gifts. Nearly $1 million has already been pledged and gifted from area businesses and individuals. The $2,000,000 match extends to pledges and donations committed by Dec. 31, 2017. Gifts or pledges of $2,500 or more will be recognized on a donor wall at the shrine.

For generations, many families have been part of the Land of the Cross Tipped Churches and the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics.  This is an opportunity maintain the relics at Maria Stein and preserve this beautiful sacred space for centuries to come.

“The German Catholic community, whose ancestors learned much of their spirituality from the Sisters of the Precious Blood, has demonstrated a real commitment to the Shrine,” said Don Rosenbeck, president of Maria Stein of the Holy Relics. “Just as local parishes are involving the laity more and more, so too will the shrine.”

“Maria Stein and Mercer County, God’s country, is a very meaningful and important place to the Sisters of the Precious Blood,” said Sister Joyce, “We believe the laity are more than capable of doing and holding sacred what we have held sacred all these years. Although we’re comfortable knowing that, this is still a difficult decision and it’s a sad decision for us to have to make because we spent 170 years . . .being the guardians of this land and of the rich treasure of both faith and of the relics that we have here. We do trust, however, that it’s going to be in good hands and that the ministry will continue for the greater honor and glory of God.”

The Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics provides faith nourishment and spiritual renewal through prayer, pilgrimage and inspiration from the lives of the saints. People from around the world visit the Shrine to explore and enjoy this environment rich in holiness and history. For the many that come and enter the quiet of the chapels, peace returns and energies are renewed. It is where the cares, problems and worries of daily life can be placed in God’s hands. For many, healing of mind and spirit are sought and obtained. This tranquil country setting allows the heart and soul to find relief from the turbulence of fast living.

The Shrine is open Monday – Thursday: 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Friday & Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. And on Sunday:  12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.   Closed on Major Holidays. For more information, or to contact the Shrine visit, or call 419-925-4532.

Small Town Holiday Fun

Medina Holiday and Christmas Events and Fests

Combines Small Town Atmosphere with Big City Flavor

Featuring one-of-a-kind shopping and attractions like the famous Root Candles and world-renown Castle Noel, the holidays are a beautiful time to visit Medina County, Ohio.

With its close proximity to Cleveland/Akron and with highway access via I-71, I-271, I-76/224, Medina County is and easy daytrip during the holiday season.  The vast array of festivals, shopping, attractions, historic architecture and eateries make Medina County a special place to visit and live.  It combines small town atmosphere with big city flavor.

Visit the many fabulous, unique shops and outlets to find all your holiday gifts during the holiday season.  For example, The Log Cabin shop features re-enactors, supplies and muzzle-loading guns along with a large collection of new and used books.  Visit the Village of Seville for unique shops.  There are antique shops, antique malls and consignment shops worth exploring all around Medina County.

Root Candles at West Liberty is a nationally known, local business that has been in existence for over 100 years.  Root is a candle making company offering home accessories, decorations and candles of all shapes and sizes.  Root’s candles are known for their fragrances, for being clean and long burning.  Their retail store is in the original factory building along with an outlet shop.

If you need scrapbooking, art supplies, paper and envelopes, visit Hollo’s Papercraft in Brunswick.  Ohio Station Outlets features more than 60 shops and a train that you can ride around the facility.  Medina County has many small locally owned and operated gift shops in Wadsworth, Brunswick, Seville and around Medina’s Historic Square.  Ormandy’s Trains and Toys is where you will find children’s traditional favorite Christmas toy – model trains.  Boyert’s Greenhouse has great holiday decorations to decorate the inside and outside of your home.  At Century Cycles, you can find that new bike to take out and enjoy the bike trails in Medina County and all across the state.  Stop at one of the area’s wineries for a tasting.  Select your favorite wine to enjoy at home during holiday meals and parties. Find that special gift for all your holiday gift needs at one of the many specialty shops in Medina County.

Make your holiday visit more memorable with a visit to Castle Noel, America’s largest holiday entertainment complex.  Here you can stroll past New York City department store Christmas window displays, holiday Christmas photos of Christmas shows and stars, walk through the “I Had That” Toyland Experience where you can find many of the toys you played with, go through the Blizzard Vortex and Santa’s Squeeze to experience what Santa feels as he climbs down the chimney.  View the large collection of costumes, props and set pieces from numerous Christmas movies such as Will Ferrell’s “Elf” costume, the Grinch’s 16 foot sleigh, Cindy Lou Who’s bedroom set and many other pieces from the The Grinch movie.  See Cousin Eddy’s RV from Christmas Vacation, items from Tim Allen’s Santa Claus movies and much more. Before you leave be sure to climb Santa Mountain where you will meet Santa Claus and take a ride down the slide just like Ralphy did in A Christmas Story.

In the lower level of Castle Noel, check out the indoor “Alien Vacation” freaky black lights and 3D mini-golf.  Play 18 holes and travel across the world with Santa showing the Aliens’ Mayan Temple and the North Pole Ice. Then go with Santa and the Alien’s as they travel into space.  Enjoy a drink (adult or kids beverages) at the “The Bridge” Spaceship Bar.

Medina County has many fun events. For example, there’s Medina’s Candlelight Walk November 18-20. Here you’ll meet Santa, see a light parade and fireworks. There’s also the Holiday Lights drive-thru at the county fairgrounds, Santa Express train rides at Ohio Station Outlets (November 26-27), Christmas Around the World Craft Show (November 19-20 where crafters will be demonstrating. Christmas at the Ranch is at Buckin’ Ohio December 2-3 with live music, nativity, crafts and more.  Candy Cane Christmas is at Spring Mist Farm December 2&3, 9&10, 16&17, and 23 featuring a petting farm, hayrides, and live nativity.  Candlelight Walk and Jingle Bell Jaunt and Santa Parade are all held in downtown Wadsworth December 2-3, plus holiday concerts.  For all the train enthusiasts, the Medina Model Train and Toy Show is December 4 at the Community Center at the Fairgrounds in Medina.  Also at the Community Center at the Fairgrounds hosts the Medina Flea Market November 20 and December 11.

Start a new family tradition with a stop at one of the many Medina County Christmas tree farms.  Take the family out and wander a tree farm searching for the perfect Christmas tree, cut-your-own or take home a fresh cut tree and fresh pine roping to decorate your home.

After finding that perfect tree, plan a lunch or dinner at one of many wonderful restaurants. There’s plenty in this winter wonderland in Medina County to make fun holiday memories.  With the vast array of activities, events and some of the most beautiful historic architecture in the state, Medina County is well worth the visit.  Oh, and don’t forget the fantastic Medina Ice Festival February 17-20. Call 800-860-2943 or visit for a calendar of events and visitors guide.

Santa’s Secret Shopping Area Discovered


In Downtown Wooster, Ohio!

Beautiful historic downtown Wooster, in the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country, invites you to shop in a relaxed, hassle-free atmosphere and experience holiday shopping the way it was meant to be.

Window Wonderland on Friday, November 18th officially kicks off the holiday season downtown with the “unwrapping” of the beautifully decorated windows at 7:00pm, followed by the arrival of Santa amidst carolers, street vendors, and great activities for the kids.  Holiday foods, hot cocoa and cookies will be available from booths along the main street, while the restaurants and cafes will be open for those wishing to take the merrymaking inside. The friendly Wayne County merchants are ready to share their holiday spirit while welcoming you into their establishments.

Make a weekend of it and spend the night at the Market Street Inn, Best Western Wooster Hotel and Conference Center or St. Paul Boutique Hotel, all within easy walking distance to restaurants, craft beer brewery and shopping in the downtown area.

The shops located along this thriving main street community include the Everything Rubbermaid Store, several antique shops, gourmet kitchenware shop, clothing boutiques, bookstores, a record shop, art galleries, jewelry and furniture stores, just to name a few. No time for holiday baking? They’ve got you covered. Downtown Wooster boasts a Hungarian bakery, Scottish bakery and exceptional cupcake shop. While here, you may want to check out the downtown specialty food stores, Meatheads Union Butcher Shop, Motts Oils and Local Roots, which are sure to add that certain pizazz to your holiday gatherings.

For a complete listing of store hours, holiday events and sales planned for this holiday season, check out or

Santa has been known to shop the many stores of downtown Wooster…maybe it’s time you did too.

Take the Hassle Out of Holidays


Take the Hassle Out of Holidays in the Hocking Hills

Year after year holiday shoppers fight mall crowds, first in the parking lot, then waiting in line to purchase something that has been mass produced and found in malls across the country.  In the Hocking Hills, they don’t think that sounds like much fun and the holidays should be all about fun.

Go on a Holiday Treasure Hunt in the Hocking Hills November 1 to December 12, 2016.  Here’s how it works.  There are 26 participating shops and galleries.  Pick up a treasure hunt map and entry form at the Hocking Hills Welcome Center or any of the participating shops.  You can also download the map and entry form at  Collect six stickers from six different participating shops then drop off or mail your entry form to the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center, postmarked by December 12.  You will be entered to win a Grand Prize Getaway for 4 and one of more than 35 prizes.

These stores are locally owned small businesses.  Many feature one-of-a-kind, handmade treasures.  None of them are in a mall in fact this is the perfect mallternative.  You take a nice leisurely drive through Ohio’s natural crown jewels.  You explore distinctive shops.  You delight when you discover the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list.  And, maybe win a prize.

Each participating store is providing a prize.  The Hocking Hills Tourism Association is providing prizes and the Grand Prize Getaway for 4 is provided by Hocking Hills Tourism Association, Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, Hocking Hills Canoe Livery, Christmas Treasures, Wind Chime Shop and Hocking Hills Candleworks.  The Grand Prize Getaway includes two nights in a cabin for 4, zipline canopy tour for 4, canoe tour for 4, candlemaking for 4 and dinner for 4.  Now that would be a great surprise under the tree on Christmas morning.

On Saturday, December 3 the Annual Logan Christmas Parade will roll down Main Street ushering in Jolly Old St. Nick.  The Bowen House Annual Christmas Tree Display will open on December 3 and the trees will remain on exhibit through the month.

Downtown Logan is home to several historic and architecturally significant churches.  December 10 these churches will open their doors to welcome visitors and treat them to songs and stories.

Spend Saturday, December 10 celebrating naturally at Christmas in Ash Cave.  There will be caroling, refreshments, a visit from Santa and making Christmas critter gifts in the form of a wildlife feeder tree.

Begin a new holiday tradition and take the hassle out of the Holidays in the Hocking Hills.

Amish Holiday Sales


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Southwestern Ohio has a growing, bustling Amish community that can teach us all how to slow down and enjoy the season as it was intended. After a lovely autumn drive into the rolling hills and countryside, you meander through the woods and over a covered bridge on the edge of Appalachia. Then, you arrive at a place where time has stopped.

Welcome to Miller’s Bakery, Furniture & Bulk Foods.

Few take the time to slow down and soak in the season, as once was the norm. Instead, people go into overdrive fighting crowds and standing in long lines waiting to buy turkeys, honey-baked hams, pine trees, toys, and pictures with Santa. But at Miller’s, you pause without thinking as the combination of sights, sounds and smell fill the senses with pleasure. It seems as if Grandma’s baking in the kitchen, Grandpa’s woodworking in his workshop, and Santa’s elves are somewhere hammering away at rocking horses and Victorian playhouses or baking fresh Christmas cookies.

The unique marketplace’s appeal is that of old-world charm, friendly customer service and a wide variety of original items you would never see at the mall.

It has been nearly 40 years since this Amish family realized a new business was forming with the growing demand for their homemade baked goods. Word-of-mouth spread so more and more people stopped to buy breads, pies, cinnamon rolls, you name it. Then, Amish-made furniture was added to the mix and their farming days waned as their baking and furniture business boomed.

Now, the 300-acre farm has 34,000 square feet of furniture under one roof, plus more outside, and a separate building for the bakery and another for the bulk food store, complete with deli. The cash registers are powered by wind-generated energy. Plus the Miller’s use a lot of solar energy and air compressors. In the parking lot, it’s not uncommon for a horse and buggy to be parked next to an SUV.

Throughout the 2016 holiday season, Miller’s has special events planned to show appreciation for their customers. On November 25 & 26 there’s a storewide Thanksgiving sale offering 10 percent off all items in stock (furniture store only). This does not include outdoor buildings, gazebos and select bedroom sets. Then there’s an end-of-year clearance sale from December 24 – 31 (Closed on the 25th). This includes free coffee and cookies at the bakery and free cheese and candy samples at the Bulk Foods Store. Get 10 percent off all items in stock (furniture store only), excluding all outdoor buildings, gazebos and select bedroom sets.

For a day in the country, Miller’s is a crossroads in time. The Amish offerings at Miller’s Bakery, Furniture and Bulk Foods are plentiful and diverse. You name it, they probably have it. But if by chance they don’t, they’ll make it, just like they’ve been doing for 39 years.

For more information, directions or catalog for Miller’s Bakery, Furniture & Bulk Foods, call 937-544-8524 or visit

25% Off Playsets for Christmas


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Amish-made playsets, fruitcakes and so much more for the holiday season await at Keim’s Family Market.

During Christmas season, Keim’s will discount its outdoor children’s playsets by 25 percent. These include two-story, solid wood fortresses, ships and other themed construction with sturdy plastic slides, curly slides, swings, climbing walls and additional accessories. There are plenty of examples fully built and on display.

Inside Keim’s main store, there is plenty of Amish-made furniture, ingredients for cooking from scratch and a bakery with just about anything fresh out of the oven.

But one traditional holiday treat made at Keim is ordered and delivered nationwide – their signature fruitcake. Lots of jokes surround fruitcake gifts around the holiday season but at Keim Family Market, its serious business!

Aside from their renowned fruitcakes and fruit pies, Amish ladies are in the old-fashioned kitchen by early morning baking a variety of tasty treats right before your eyes. All of which are sure to be gone from shelves by day’s end. Truly, you can get it while it’s hot! Whether you crave pies, cinnamon rolls or fresh-baked breads, the aroma floating in the air says it all. The peanut butter pretzels will make your mouth water just looking at it.

If you want to be a hit at those upcoming holiday parties, stop at Keim’s first.

Next to the bakery is the full-line deli where you can pack a cooler full of a wide variety of cheese and meat selections to bring back home. And if you want to do some cooking at home, fill a grocery basket with natural spices and baking ingredients. The store also sells an enormous selection of canned foods, sugar-free foods and old-fashioned candies. Be sure to bring home an Amish cook book, too, to come up with a “can’t miss” recipe for your guests.

But that’s not all! Bring your Christmas shopping list. The rustic store has a wide-variety of potential gifts, including wicker baskets, candles, quilts, and other unique items. For those bigger gifts, you may fall in love with the craftsmanship of Keim’s dining room sets, bedroom sets, hutches, gliders and chairs. They even have computer tables with keyboard returns, all hand crafted by Amish craftsmen.

Walk around the smaller buildings, too. You’ll find plenty more in the bargain barn and art barn.

Keim Family Market is a special place, rich in history from its humble beginning when hard times drove Roy Kaim, an Amish man, to pack his horse and buggy with his wife’s homemade pies to go sell roadside. Thirty years later, the pies are still selling along the “Appalachian Highway” on the edge of Appalachia in Southern Ohio.

Keim Family Market is located at 2621 Burnt Cabin Road off SR 32 in Seaman, Ohio. They are open Monday – Friday 8am – 6 pm and Saturday 8am – 5pm but closed on Sunday. Their phone number is 937-386-9995. More information is available at

Appalachian Mountain Xmas Shopping


Aww the joy of Christmas…White snow, Bing and Rosemary in “White Christmas”, white twinkly lights, white fudge and popcorn around the fire. Oh, and the shopping that comes somewhere in between blissful and stressful. Let us make it blissful so you will have more time for Bing, Rosemary and your family.

Hilltop Event Center is hosting their annual Appalachian Mountain Christmas on Friday, November 18 from 10am to 8pm and Saturday, November 19 from 9am to 5pm.  Don’t forget your list.

Appalachian Mountain Christmas’ crafters design little individual stores for you to leisurely browse, shop and never feel rushed. Enjoy the sounds and smells of Christmas while you shop. Everything is very handicap and stroller accessible with wide aisles. There’s even extra seating for the not-so-thrilled-to-be-shopping guys. You’ll also find tables for dining or relaxing.  This craft show is all under one big roof, so there’s no bad weather or large crowds to worry about.

The following shares some of the unique shopping experiences you’ll have at Appalachian Mountain Christmas November 18 & 19, 2016.

Always the first stop (and sometimes the last for a take home treat) for every shopper is the special homemade treats from “Buckeye Confections.” Treats of all kinds, made especially for you by Alicia and Jeremiah. They take pride in their specialty buckeyes, cookies, cakes and candy from the mouth-watering taste, elegant presentation down to the special packaging in their little corner treat shop.

Swisher Creek Alpaca Farm has been a huge favorite of so many shoppers with their exquisite designs for the entire family. Pete and Judy feature sweaters, throws, hats, scarves, mittens, socks and even hand puppets made from their own Alpaca’s wool. Get your list ready for these warm and cozy items.

Juniebee’s “Come Next Spring” assortment of hand painted recycled bottles is out-of-this-world gorgeous. These bottles may be used for oils, bird feeders, colognes, soaps and more. Several must have’s and one-of-a-kind’s from Juniebee.

Take a step back in time when you enter the “Faded Memories” store of Brenda Armstrong. Brenda, being an elegant lady herself, divinely dresses her Faded Memories store so that it beckons you in to seek treasures such as bandboxes, bears, repurposed jewelry, mirrors, bookmarks and more.

If you are a lover of fine wood and jewelry, you will be awestruck by the designs of Gary Howser’s fine wooden jewelry boxes.  Such intricately designed boxes that would love to grace the top of your favorite person’s vanity for jewelry or small collectables. What a fine gift that will make you #1.

Hilltop is so pleased to host artist Elaine Balsley, of Orchard View Studio. Elaine hand quilts tote bags, wine bottle gift bags and more along with small original paintings. Enjoy her Orchard View Studio Christmas Shop here at the Appalachian Mountain Christmas Show.

New to the show this year is Children’s Author, Pollyanna Covert, who lives in rural Adams County, Ohio. Born and raised in Southern Ohio, Pollyanna always dreamed of becoming a published children’s author. Her dream came true in 2015 with four storybooks, two early chapter books and two middle-grade novels. Pollyanna’s goal is to share the power of hope with young readers in every book she writes.

Locust Hill Farm with Bootsie Robison is another step back in time as she demonstrates spinning her sheep’s wool on a spinning wheel.  Knitted and felted clothing are wonderfully made and so warm for the upcoming winter days. Bootsie also features some knitted household items. Snuggle in to Locust Hill Farm’s shop.

As a little girl, Deborah Zimmerer, was fascinated by the glass figures in the windows of her church. Still inspired today by these windows’ brilliant sun touched colors, each one telling a different story, Ribbons Stained Glass came to be. Using only the best quality materials along with good craftsmanship are of the utmost importance. Deborah brings her best works of art to the show for your special someone’s Christmas present.

There will also be primitives, quilted items, Christmas décor, therapy stuffed animals, decorated gourds, jewelry, sample foods, candles, soaps, wood crafts and so much more.

Last but not least is entertainment by singer/ songwriter Steve Free on Friday and Saturday. Come sit a spell and enjoy Free entertainment. And remember the reason for the season.

Appalachian Mountain Christmas Shopping is November 18 & 19, 2016 at Hilltop Event Center located at 9764 Tri-County Rd. in Winchester, Ohio. Phone 937-695-5545 or click here for the festival schedule and other information to plan your visit.

Keep Love Alive


with Romantic Getaways
at Great Ohio Lodges


According to the people who should know – AARP – romantic getaways for empty nesters are an essential part of keeping the love alive. And these romantic getaways need not be expensive, exotic or long to do the trick.


The famous organization for people over 50 researched romantic getaways and found that a top consideration for most couples is the choice of accommodations with beautiful views to set the mood. And although some couples might start out thinking about elaborate international destinations, most find that a romantic getaway that is close to home can be just as effective, as long as there are opportunities for romantic dining, sightseeing and relaxing.


For couples in Ohio and the surrounding states, a great choice for a close-to-home romantic interlude is one of three Great Ohio Lodges located in state parks in Southern Ohio – Hueston Woods, Burr Oak and Shawnee.


All three lodges are architecturally reminiscent of historic lodges once built throughout the country by railroads, and they include indoor and outdoor swimming pools, exercise equipment, game rooms and more. Hueston Woods and Shawnee also offer golf courses.


“Especially during the quieter fall and winter seasons, we host many, many couples who have come for the secluded walks in the woods, the comfortable accommodations with views of the parks, the charming nearby towns and the romantic park settings,” said Tom Arvan, regional general manager of Great Ohio Lodges.


And they also come for the deals, said Arvan.


Special deals


All three lodges offer a “Savvy Senior” rate with midweek rates as low as $65 plus tax. There are also numerous packages for travelers seeking to take advantage of each region’s charming local attractions.


For example, Burr Oak Lodge offers the Ohio Valley Opry Package with accommodations, tickets for shows at the Twin City Opera House in nearby McConnelsville and complimentary shuttle.


Hueston Woods Lodge offers a special “Romancing in the Woods” package with accommodations, cheese and fruit platter, bottle of sparkling wine and complimentary movie rental. Rates start at $95 per couple per night plus tax.


And Shawnee Park Lodge offers a holiday-themed Murder Mystery Package with a show presented in a richly decorated grand ballroom. Rates for accommodations, two tickets to the show and hors d’oeuvres begin at $159 plus tax.


For more information about the Great Ohio Lodges, go online or call individual lodges. Travelers can also connect with Hueston Woods, Burr Oak and Shawnee Lodges on Facebook and sign up for special email offers.

It’s Thanksgiving! What Could Possibly Go Wrong?


We’re hosting Thanksgiving for the first time! How exciting.

Our first arrivals were my mom, sis and kids. They came a day early. The men would arrive on Thanksgiving Day. Based on previous visits, my mom’s rescue dog has earned a reputation as “a runner” among other things. So we learned to leave an opening in the garage for the crew to pull inside. Then we shut the garage door and let everyone inside the house through the connecting side door.

What was easily forgotten was that the poor dog had been traveling for hours. Coming straight into the house among the happy greetings and hugs between family members who have not seen each other in months, he instinctively headed for the back door. But nobody noticed. Then, he apparently decided that the large green cloth chair would suffice to do his business.

He’s a big dog and he took a big leak down the side of the chair and then shifted to thoroughly saturate the carpet – of course missing the adjacent tile floor by mere inches.

After supper, my sister had pies to cook. Don’t ask me why but something went terribly wrong!

After my little sis bellowed – “OH NO!” – we all came running to find the oven caked in hardened pie remains.

Good grief what a mess it was! So we figured we’d just set the oven to self-clean and let it do its thing overnight.

In the morning, the oven was long cooled down but the damn door wouldn’t open. There was a 20+ pound turkey to cook! We burned up Google for a solution but no matter what we tried, it wouldn’t work.

I looked at the time. I glanced out the window at the patio. I looked at the time again.

“Let’s just grill this bird!” I yelled.

People looked at me like I was crazy – as they often do.

I sprang to action and grabbed the propane tank to get it filled. I just knew that if I didn’t, it would probably run out half way through cooking. Besides, my Google solution for grilling a turkey said I needed indirect heat so I needed a cooking sheet that would fit. I found an aluminum solution at the hardware store while I waited for the tank.

When I returned home, I fired up the grill. Within a minute my aluminum solution caught fire. I cleaned up that mess and zipped to the grocery store and back with a commercial grade baking pan. I slipped it under the grate. Perfect fit.

My dad and brother-in-law arrived about an hour and several beers into my roast.

“What are you doing?” They asked.

“Barbecuing turkey,” I smiled casually with a slight buzz.

Their jaws drop and eyes grow wide in disbelief.

“This is going to be a bust of a meal,” I could read them saying in their minds.

I weathered the cold, tending to the manual temperature controls toggling around 325 degrees for hours. Sometimes the temperature reached about 350 degrees and at others it went down to 300 but I managed to keep it as steady as the pouring beer.

I couldn’t jeopardize the temperature by opening the lid. I had to wait for the halfway point to finally get a glimpse of what was happening inside.

That’s when I flipped the bird.

It looked pretty darn good but my dad and I both suspected looks could be deceiving. It might be one raw mess deep in that meat.

I kept at the controls catching parts of the football game while fetching sanity refills.

On one trip to the kitchen, tensions grew and some stereotypical sibling squabbling exchanged between my sister and me. Others joined in. Oh, this was going to be a Thanksgiving to remember.

I huffed off to my patio retreat and she to the stove top where her pie disaster from the night before stayed locked inside the oven below except for its warming aroma wafting in the air as the burners heated up the side dishes.

Then came the moment of truth. I shoved a thermometer inside a breast. Then I took the turkey inside for my brother-in-law to carve. At this point, nobody trusted me with sharp objects.

My brother-in-law’s heart sunk because he couldn’t get the carving knife through the bird. He was afraid to say anything. He just stared wondering how he’d break the bad news. When he looked down again, he realized the thing was upside down.

We sat around the table – everyone silently praying for a meal that would at least not send us all to the Emergency Room.

One by one, noises of pleasure were passed around the table.

And it was a Happy Thanksgiving!

By Frank Rocco Satullo, author of “HERE I THOUGHT I WAS NORMAL: Micro Memoirs of Mischief and editor of

Escape The Room Challenge

escape the room ohio 

The Game Is Afoot. The Question Is – Can You Escape? The answer depends on you and your group’s abilities to solve puzzles and unravel clues.

Escape The Room Challenge is a next-generation interactive adventure based on the classic “escape the room” on-line video games. But unlike a video game, players are real people locked/trapped inside a real room with a real problem to solve. They must find clues and solve puzzles in order to escape…all the while the clock is ticking!

Escape room adventures are the latest entertainment attraction sweeping across the nation, taking the popularity of the on-line video games and transporting them to a real-life setting. Escape The Room Challenge offers a highly themed, simulated adventure in which a group has one hour to problem-solve a series of clues, puzzles and mental challenges while possibly encountering a few red herrings along the way.

Currently, there are two themed rooms with a third on the way. Esmeralda’s Curse places gamers in a mysterious gypsy fortuneteller’s parlor, where a murder has been committed. Gamers have one hour to solve clues and escape before the gypsy curse descends upon the room. Escape The Mob takes place in an old warehouse containing mob-stolen valuables and participants have one hour to solve the clues and earn their freedom before the mob returns to commit certain mayhem.

Esmeralda’s Curse can accommodate up to10 players at one time; Escape the Mob can accommodate up to eight players at a time.

Escape The Room Challenge is open year-round from 10 am to 9 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Admission tickets are by reservations only and are now available on-line at

The Escape the Room Challenge is across the parking lot from the world’s largest indoor model train display, EnterTRAINment Junction, at 7391 Squire Court in West Chester, Ohio.

Medina Does Christmas + Much More!


Medina County has so much to offer. With its close proximity to Cleveland and Akron and easy highway access, I-71, I-271, I-76, all roads lead to Medina County.

The holidays are a wonderful time to visit with all that is offered. A Castle Noel – America’s largest year-round indoor Christmas entertainment attraction – extends hours to opening Tuesday thru Sunday starting on the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Here, you’ll see the Hall of Fame photos of many holiday movie and TV stars and singers. Walk through the Blizzard Vortex. Enjoy the “I Had That” Toyland Experience with hundreds of classic toys. Experience the Santa Squeeze. Enjoy the collection of costumes, set props from many favorite Christmas movies, including Cindy Lou Who’s bedroom. There’s even Will Ferrell’s Elf costume, Cousin Eddy’s RV from Christmas Vacation and so much more. New York City holiday window displays from Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and others will delight your fancy. Oh, and you even get to slide down the Christmas Story’s mountain and slide just like Ralphie!

The Medina County Fairgrounds offers “Holiday Lights Drive Thru”, a drive-thru of great light displays made up of displays donated by area businesses and local residents. One price gets the whole car in to view the lights.

Make holiday family memories and bring everyone to window shop the enchanted Medina town square holiday windows. Enjoy a wonderful family meal together with some shopping. Then go out and find that special Christmas tree at one of many nearby tree farms. You can cut-your-own or choose from the freshly pre-cut trees on the lot.

For everyone looking for Christmas and holiday gifts, Medina County has many amazing shops. Visit the great area small towns for those unique gifts for that special someone. There are outlet stores featuring Hollo’s Papercraft and Ohio Station Outlets and its 45+ shops. Medina County offers a wide variety of antique, gift, home improvement, clothing and numerous other shops as well. Medina County also hosts a flea market where you can find great gifts for the collector in the family.

The holidays in Medina County also means many exciting events! There are craft shows such as Christmas Around the World the weekend before Thanksgiving where you will see craftsmen in costume with their crafted gifts, holiday decorations and handmade items. In Wadsworth, enjoy the Candlelight Walk and Jingle Bell Jaunt with luminaries, food, kids activities, parade and lunch with Santa.

Downtown Medina also hosts a Candlelight Walk with entertainment and holiday lights around the historic district. There’s also a parade of lights, luminaries, fireworks display and Santa. Shops will remain open with extended evening hours for the weekend.

Valley City presents Christmas in the Valley with a community sing-along, crafts, Christmas lighting and Santa. Spring Mist Farm has created Candy Cane Christmas. Be greeted by live reindeer, a live nativity, and a lit miniature village with model trains, children’s activities and walk through a dozen themed trees decorated for the holidays.

The Medina Railroad & Toy Christmas Extravaganza is an amazing show to just come and browse for gifts for the kids or kids at heart. Maybe find that toy you had as a kid and, of course, trains – new and old. What is Christmas without a train making its way around under the Christmas tree?

If music is what you love, the Medina Community Band hosts a winter concert. Enjoy the Holiday Pops Concert performance by the Akron Symphony Orchestra and choirs.

Holidays are a special time in Medina County, but there are other remarkable event all year long. The Medina Ice Festival is the place to be in February to push back the winter blahs! Get out to see the ice carvings around Medina’s Public Square, the Tower of Fire & Ice on that Friday evening and ice carving competitions on Saturday and Sunday. It’s a winter blast!

Throughout the year, pay a visit to the many great festivals and events; the Wadsworth Blue Tip Festival, Brunswick’s Summer Celebration, Lodi’s Sweet Corn Festival, Valley City’s Frog Jump Festival, Medina’s International Fest, Buckin’ Ohio’s monthly rodeo shows starting in May and the Fall Foliage Tour in Medina County. These are just a few of the numerous events taking place in Medina County.

Even with its close proximity to Cleveland and Akron, Medina County offers many exceptional hometowns agricultural and fall sites. Farmers’ Markets can be found all summer long in Brunswick, Lodi, Medina, Seville and Wadsworth. Fresh produce, apples and wine will be available at farms, orchards and markets all year long but especially in the fall with pumpkins, fall events and fun corn mazes, apple picking, and fall festivals. Throughout Medina County, there are various golf courses, many parks for hikes, fishing, educational programs, and museums and history just waiting for you. Come and enjoy the outstanding restaurants and take the time to spend a day or two with a stay in the area hotels or bed and breakfasts.

Find out more details, including dates about all of these great options at or by calling 1-800-860-2943.

Explore the possibilities… in Medina County!