Letters from Home

December 19, 2017

Good Morning Everyone, 

     When I opened the blinds at the windows this morning I noticed the clouds were beginning to break up and some clear sky could be seen. It looked like it was going to be a nice day. The temperature was 43° and soon the sun shone through the pine trees by the neighbors on the hill.

     It is a good day to hang the laundry outside unless it wraps around the line so much that it can't dry as it is quite windy.

     Last week we got approximately 4-5 inches of snows and on Thursday morning the store did not open until 10:00. That sounds like something that would occur in January.

     Only 5 more days until Christmas. The year has flown by fast.

     There is a program called "Operation Silent Night" where a supply/food trailer gets taken to Washington D.C. by folks from OH and they hand out hot sandwiches, hot chocolate, and clothing supplies, etc. to the homeless on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Last Thursday eve, a group of ladies assembled hygiene bags to send along for them to give out. They minister to a lot of needy people.

     At this time of the year the farmer's job is grinding feed, hauling manure, doing chores and pushing snow, if we get a lot.

     The ladies job is cooking, sewing, cleaning, etc. and doing projects we don't have time for during the busy summer months.

     I am in the process of setting up a new bird feeding station and want to try out the newest item we sell at Ashery. Bird Seed! We have 5 diffferent varieties. Thistle Seed, Black Oil Sunflower, Wild Bird Banquet, Cardinal & Chickadee Mix and Deluxe Finch Mix. It will be interesting to see which seed the birds go for the most. I will be using the 3 mixes plus homemade peanut suet. 

     "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulders: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

      I hope you all will have a Blessed Christmas season and experience the Love of Jesus. 

     See you next year, 


Letters from Home

November 13, 2017

Dear Friends Far & Near,

     It certainly feels like winter is here. We had a cold 21° on Friday morning which froze the kale that was still in the garden, and we had snow flurries throughout the day. Brrr! It looked pretty but cold. Are we ready for it?

     A few of the events in the area are:

       - The Christmas Live Nativity Parade on November 24 in Berlin

       - Journey to Bethlehem on December 1 & 2 in Walnut Creek

       - Shopping Under the Stars on December 8 in Berlin

       - Christmas in Baltic on December 16 in Baltic

     This Fall season has gone by so fast. Next week is Thanksgiving already and then soon it will be Christmas.

     Last week the church Ladies had a sewing day again and now that the outside work is done it is good time to get started with stitching and sewing projects. Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) is always in need of comforters and clothing bundles to ship to needy people around the world. 

     Would any of you readers want to share what you do with Star Anise? Do you grind them or how are they used? Thank you for a reply.

     Yesterday afternoon I was out for a walk. Alongside the road was a cornfield that had not yet been picked and the dry leaves rustled softly in the slight breeze. The sky was overcast with a few openings in the clouds where the blue sky was visible. A herd of cows in the field were peacefully grazing with the exception of a few that were contentedly laying down. Suddenly I heard the distress call of the American Kestrel. Only then did I notice how calm and quiet everything else was. 

     The coming cold weather is a good time for soup.

     Taco Soup

     • 1 to 2 lbs. hamburger, seasoned & browned

     • 1 quart water

     • 1 quart pizza sauce

     • 1 can hot chili beans or pork & beans

     • 1 pkg or 3 to 4 Tablespoons taco seasoning

Simmer for 15 minute. Serve with shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese, sour cream or taco chips.


Quote: "Always begin each day anew, as each morning is new."

Happy Thanksgiving to All.

- Sovilla

Letters from Home

October 16, 2017

Good Afternoon Everyone, 

     This morning was cool, 48° before dawn. At daylight, the clouds were scattered and the underside was dark, causing them to look cold. 

     The leaves on the trees have started to change color and a lot have already fallen to the ground. The Black Walnut trees behind my house are pretty well bare. There were lots of nuts on the ground, a bountiful harvest for the squirrels.

     Now after lunch I stepped outside the front door at the store and we are enjoying a beautiful Fall day. October clear blue sky with fluffy white clouds. It is warm int he sunshine but the air is cool. Across the road is a young man whipping down the tall weeds in the pasture with a weed-eater.

     Work in the fields and gardens is winding down. One farmer sowed oats for a cover crop. The recent rains we had really gave the fall gardens a boost. The radishes got a second growth spurt, some are quite big. 

     There are not as many events in the area except Berlin will have Christmas Open House on November 10 - 11.

     Cooler weather is also time to think about serving bowls of steaming hot soups for dinner. On Saturday, we will be having French Onion soup to sample at the Ashery, served with a seasoned croutons and mozzarella cheese. It is a very tasty soup. This mix also works well as an ingredient in meatloaf, pot roast, Salisbury steak or as a marinade for steak or pork chops. 

     For folks that look for ways to be frugal and healthful here is a recipe for a homemade mouth wash that I found and thought it may be of interest to you.

• ½ cup water

• 2 teaspoons baking soda

• 2 drops of Tea Tree oil

• 2 drops of Peppermint oil

Keep in a dark place or a dark glass bottle.

Tip: Slowly sipping 4 oz. hot peppermint tea shortly after a meal aids in digestion.

Quote from a flip calendar: "In autumn, nature is painted by one skilled, unseen hand."

Have a bountiful fall season, 

- Sovilla

Letters from Home

September 16, 2017

Good Morning Everyone, 

     This is Saturday morning and we got up to a foggy morning. Yesterday morning was quite foggy also, but turned out to be a beautiful day and I believe today willl be the same. 

     We have been so richly blessed, my heart goes out to the folks that were in the storms in Flordia and Texas, etc. I talked to a lady here in the store that lives in Houston and her house did not get flooded but her neighbors on either side of her did.  It is comforting to know that God is in control. Psalms 34:18 "The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit."

     Some of the farmers have started cutting corn and filling the the silos.

     Some of the gardens are getting cleaned out, at least parts of them, and sown with a cover crop to keep the weeds from taking over and it is also good nourishment for the soil when it gets tilled under in the Spring. Some folks like to have a Fall garden also and those plants look good. I want to sow some lettuce yet. Radishes are started looking good. 

     A few of the activities in our area include: The Mid-Ohio Horse Sale from October 3-7 at Mt. Hope. The Ohio Swiss festival in Sugarcreek on September 29-30. The Apple Dumpling Festival in Shreve on September 29. The Fall Festival at The Farm at Walnut Creek on October 6,7,9 and 13, 14 in Walnut Creek. And don't forget our Fall Harvest Sale on September 21 - 23 at the Ashery!

     A few of our store visitors were: a lady from Hungary that could speak German and we tried to see if we could converse in German. Folks that were from England came in with their friends that are regular customers here. Also folks from Wyoming and Canada. It is always interesting to meet folks that have never been here before. One forenoon we had 3 different parites that were new. 

     I found a recipe that helps use up zucchini, it is called Zucchini Pie.

4 cups zucchini, shredded; 1 cup onion, chopped; ½ cup butter. Sauté 10 minutes then add: 2 eggs lightly beaten, 8 oz. shredded cheese, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon oregano, ¼ teaspoon basil, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon garlic powder.

Crust: 1 Tablespoon sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ cup milk, 1½ cup flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, 3 Tablespoon shortening.

Mix crust ingredients and pat into 9" pie pan. Spread 2 Tablespoons mustard over pie shell. Pour zucchini mixture into shell and bake at 350° for 35 - 40 minutes.

This recipe is taken out of the Family Life Magazine.

Thought: "Here is the test to find out whether your mission on earth is finished. If you are alive, it isn't." - Richard Bach

Have A Good Day!

- Sovilla

Letters from Home

August 14, 2017

Good Morning, 

     This is Monday morning 11:00 am at the Ashery. It is partly cloudy with scattered patches of hazy blue sky, making the sunshine hazy and the air feel warm and humid. It's a beautiful summer day in Ohio.

     As I was ready to go out the front door a few ladies were coming in, and as I greeted them with a "Good Morning," one of them exclaimed joyfully, "Good Morning, look who's here!" Then I saw the last lady in the group was a friend I had known for years and had moved to CO and not been back for 4 years. What a nice surprise!

     Now that the oats have been threshed the farmers are having a little bit of a lull before they need to start working in the cornfield. There will likely be hay to be made yet.

     In the gardens, sweet corn and tomatoes are being harvested, along with zucchini, etc. I guess we could call it our mid-summer harvest.

     At the Mt. Hope Auction grounds the Machinery Sale will be held on Saturday, August 27th; on September 1-2 the Ohio Haiti Benefit and on September 15, 16, & 17 the mid-Ohio Alternative animal and bird sale. On September 16, the Holmes County Home Benefit Auction will be held near Holmesville.

     A couple from my church had been to Bolivia, South America last winter to teach school at a newly established Amish community then he spoke about their experiences during that time, at our services yesterday (Sunday). It was very interesting. Afterward we had a carry-in fellowship meal and served approximately 120 people.

     To anyone that still have a lot of cucumbers to pickle here is an old recipe that my mother used to can pickles that seemed to be everyone's favorite.

Hamburger Pickle Slices

1 gallon thinly sliced cucumbers & 1 cup salt, cover with hot water with green food coloring added (optional) and let stand for 4 days. Drain and wash/rinse, cover with water to which 1 Tablespoon alum has been added for each gallon of water. Boil 10 minutes, then drain. In a small cloth bag, tie: 1 Tablespoon each of whole cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and celery seed, Put in your kettle with pickles and add 1 pint water and 1 pint vinegar and 5 cups sugar. Boil until transparent, put into jars and seal.

"Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good...."  Psalm 136:1

Have a good day,


Letters from Home

August 01, 2017

Good Morning Everyone, 

We are having another beautiful, quiet, slightly cool, summer morning. This is now the third morning like this and I think we all are enjoying every one of them. 

Our gardents are doing well in this area. We have had abundant rains and the vegetables are growing fast. We had a large squash plant that came up voluntarily and looked beautiful but a worm or something must have been working at the roots because it just suddently wilted and died. That also happens with the zucchini plants at times. Sweet corn is also ready.

The peaches in OH are a good crop this year and we will be having local ones at the store to sell. They smell and taste so good!

On Friday evening and Saturday, August 4 & 5 the Ohio Mennonite Relief Sale and Auction will be held at Kidron. There will be food available and quilts, etc sold over auction on Saturday. 

As you drive along the country roads you can see fields of yellow oat shocks scattered among fields of green corn and grass/hay. It creates a pretty scene.

It is interesting to find out where some of our customers are from. Especially during the summer months when lots of traveling gets done. We had folks from Romania, Brazil, Slovakia, Hungary, India, and a couple that have Lebanon for their nationality. They remarked about the Ishtar squash we sold here. It is a Lebanese summer squash. He related of remembering how they used to raise them and owuld harvest them while they were still small then cut the top off and stuff them to fix them similarly like we would do stuffed green peppers. They would let a few squash grow big so that the seeds could mature and then use them to plant again the next year, We also had folks from the mountains of northern GA, Louisiana, and a youth group from Mississipp. Plus, I'm sure there were others that I did not hear about.

The new- skin potatoes are ready to dig already and I am enclosing a recipe for potato salad that works well to fix the day before to take along to a potluck dinner or picnic, etc. This recipes yields 1 gal.

Potato Salad

• 12 cups cooked, shredded potatoes

• 1 dozen eggs, hard boiled & chopped

• 1 medium onion, chopped

•1 ½ cup celer, chopped fine



• 3 cups salad dressing

• 2 ½ cups white sugar

• ¼ cup vinegar

• ½  cup milk

• 3 teaspoons salt

• 4 tablespoons mustard

Put the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Make sure they are cold. Mix the dressing ingredients together and pour over the potato mixture and mix gently. Refrigerate. The flavors blend better if put together the day before.

And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 1 John 4:14

Blessings to all, 


Letters from Home

June 12, 2017

Good Morning Everyone, 

We got up to another beautiful day; sunshine and a clear blue sky. Yesterday was a nice, warm day and I believe today will be even warmer yet. 

Strawberry season is coming to an end. Next will be cherries to pick and can and then peas. It is nice that not everything is ready to harvest at once. 

Lots of hay has been made and corn has been planted and is growing nicely.

The church sewing ladies have decided to skip the sewing days for summer because of the busy season with gardening and canning, etc.

To the lady that wanted to know which auction that one quilt went to, it went to the auction for the County Home. I apoligize that I didn't find out soon enought to let you know, and then I couldn't find your email address.

I took a day off last week to go birding and went to the Mochican State Park here in Ohio. It is an area where certain species of birds meet that you can't find in other areas of Ohio. We were wandering on the trail that leads to Big Lyons Falls and listening to the songs of birds and trying to absorb the beauty of God's wonderful creation. We were thrilled to hear on the right side of the trail the amazingly long, and musical songs of the Winter Wren while from the left side came the sound of the delicate, flute like song of the Veery. It hass the tone as of notes coming from inside an emptybarrel or cave deep in the woods. We were also privleged to see the American Redstart, Arcadian Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo building their nests. At Funk Bottoms we got to see, beautiful in color, birds. The Prothonotary Warbler, Indigo Bunting and Scarlet Tanager. If you have a bird guide book you can look them up and understand what I mean, A friend made the comment that God could have made all the birds gray or brown but instead He chose to create them in different colors.

Thought: "Do we see a ½ cup coffee as half-empty or half full?"

Have a good day.


Letters from Home

May 15, 2017

Good Morning Everyone, 

    What a beautiful morning we are blessed with! The sun rose this morning in a clear, blue sky. I just didn't want to stay inside so I went on a short walk. I could hear the trilling song of the Boblink coming from across the field and a bright red Cardinal flew by and perched on the power line and sang it's cheery notes. A neighbor lady came by with the horse and buggy and she stopped and we chatted a little while, but her horse could see why it should stop and didn't want to stand. At the top of the hill I stood to absorb the beauty of the countryside. In looking out across the valley one heard of black and white cows were grazing in the lush, green pasture while the neighbor's herd must have had their fill as they were lying down and I assume chewing their cud. Out in the distance on the far slope a flock of sheep were grazing. 

      Now that the danger of frost is almost over some more vegetables and flowers are being planted. Asparagus and rhubarb are being enjoyed, along with radishes, lettuce, etc.
Some grass has been cut for hay and I saw one farmer head for the hay field with 4 horses hitched to the haybine. 

      For those who like auctions, at the Mt. Hope Auction Barn, a Swap Meat will be held on May 20, a Memorial Trotting sale on May 27, on June 4th the Annual Kidney Fund sale, on June 9 the Summer Carriage & Pony sale, on June 10 the Summer Draft Horse Sale.

     I almost forgot, some of you wanted to hear about my birding vacation to Lake Erie. I had an enjoyable time, but the Warbler migration is late this year due to the strong north winds. We did see most of them but they were hard to find. We saw quite a few shore birds. The Wilson's Phalanger was a special one and a good find for everyone, also the two Black Terns. The weather was mostly sunny, but quite windy and nights were cold. The water on the lake was choppy until the last day. My total count seen or heard was 147.

     Quote from a perpetual calendar, "The curve of a smile can set a lot of things straight."

Have a great day!
     - Sovilla

Letters from Home

April 17, 2017

Good Morning, 

     Spring is here. The warm sunshine feels wonderful. As I stepped outside the back door on the north side of the store the sun was shining but through a thin layer of clouds, making it slightly overcast, and the air was cool. As I stepped out the front door on the south side I get a different picture. Some clear blue sky can be seen and since I don't feel the north wind the sunshine feels warm. Whether the sunshine and blue sky or the clouds will take over and win is yet to be seen.

     Springtime activities are being enjoyed. Gardens are being tilled, spaded, or plowed and the early things are planted, lawns are green and are being mowed and fields plowed. The cattle have been put out to pasture and enjoy the luscious green grass. Spring cleaning also needs to be done if we enjoy it or not. When that has all be done we always enjoy our thoroughly cleaned houses.

     To those familiar with spring greens, weeds/herbs that are edible and healthful, now is the time to enjoy them. Besides the common dandelion, nettles is another one. The fresh leaves can be chopped and added to soups or scrabbled egg/quiche type dishes for an added flavor and nutrition. Be sure to wear gloves when you pick the nettles or you will wish you had. ☺

     Birds are returning and as it gets warmer their songs get more animated. It's exciting to hear the first song of the season as they come back. The Purple Martins with their lively chatter are back. It is amazing to be able to see 80 different species of birds in one day in a radius of approxmately 100 miles, but that is what we did last week.

     Garage sale time is coming up. On May 3rd and 4th there will be garage sales along Country Road 201. Anyone might be able to find bargains or treasures. 

     Then on Saturday, May 6th will be the Ashery's 38th Anniversary Sale.

     Following is a recipe for a granola/energy bar that I found in a magazine that I want to make this week: 

     Granola Bars

     Mix together dry ingredients and the wet ingrediants in a separate bowls then pour wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and toss to coat well.

     Press into a baking pan and bake at 350º for 10 minutes or until set.

 - Have a Beautiful Spring


Letters from Home

March 29, 2017

Good evening,

We finally got some real winter weather about a week short of the first day of Spring. It was nice to just stay at home and watch it snow from inside a cozy, warm house. At the time the girls went home from work after 5pm it was snowing so hard and fast it was like a white-out and a challenge for the driver to see where he was going.

Tonight after supper I decided to take a walk and also get the mail. The sun was shining out of a mostly clear sky. It was a beautiful evening but I did not get very far as the north wind was very cold. I stopped at the mailbox and pulled out, “The Journey of Wings” magazine. It is a birder’s magazine that comes 4 times a year. If anyone is interested, you can subscribe to it by writing to 6954 CR 77 Millersburg, OH 44654. Instead of doing a sales pitch here, you can email me at Sovilla@asherycountrystore.com if you want to know more about it.

A few weeks ago Curt took some of his employees to an Employee Seminar at the Heritage Center along 62, between Berlin & Winesburg. The topics were very interesting and gave us a lot of food for thought.

Thoughts about gardening were put on hold with the snow we had a few weeks ago. I know of someone that put peas in the ground and I wonder how they (the peas) fared under the snow. I noticed quite a few farmers got some plowing done, also.

For those interested in my Florida vacation, I enjoyed it immensely. The weather was nice with sunny days. A couple days were a bit rainy and the mornings were cool. We had a good time birding in the Fort Myers area, Fort De Soto state park, plus at Celery Fields. My total count was 114 different species. The Redish Egret and American Oystercatchers were a few of the ones I had never seen before.

A quote from the Amish Country Calendar:

“Faults are like crooked buggy wheels...we never notice our own, only those of the buggy ahead of us.”

Have a good day,


Letters from Home

February 27, 2017

A hearty howdy to all,

I hope this finds you doing great.

There certainly should be no reason for cabin fever this winter with all the wonderful warm weather we’ve been having. While nice weather sure feels good to the blood it doesn’t bode to well for the fate of the fruit trees this spring. Those budding trees won’t know what to do when the freeze hits again before spring.

The good thing about the mild winter is that we have gotten the chance to see a lot of our customers more during the winter. No snow to push before you back out of the garage makes a trip to the Ashery a lot easier. ☺

This time of the year is an exciting time with the production of maple syrup happening, although warm weather can bring that to a halt pretty fast as well. I just spoke with our Maple Syrup provider yesterday and he says even though the weather has been pretty warm, they had a very good run of maple sap prior to it warming up.

Have you ever wondered how the process of cooking maple syrup happens? I’m sure some of you know and maybe even tap some trees yourself. If you are wondering, there’s no reason to wonder any more. On March 10-11 and 17-18 we will have a demo of cooking maple syrup on the front porch of the Ashery.

Our supplier Amber Valley Maple Syrup will be cooking and bottling syrup while you watch and you will be able to buy some syrup that is still warm. You will also be able to sample it with some fresh, off the griddle pancakes. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Watch our Facebook page for some Free maple syrup giveaways.

As I think about you our customers there’s one word that comes to my mind, “Friends”. It’s such an honor to know many of you as friends. Speaking of friends, I ran across a really good quote from Dale Carnegie today that I will leave you with.

“You can make more friends in 2 months by becoming interested in others than you can in 2 years by trying to get people interested in you.”

That’s some good stuff right there. Join me in taking interest in others. It will make the world a better place.

See you all at the Maple Syrup Cookoff!

Happy Trails,



Letters from Home

February 10, 2017

Good morning,

What a beautiful morning! The sun is shining and the sky is blue. The ground and the roofs of buildings were white with frost. The laundry that was hung outside froze stiff, but now at 39° it is thawing and hopefully will dry.

There is not much birding going on for me at this time of year in Ohio, except I did hear the soft warble of a bluebird as I was coming in from hanging out the laundry. Lord willing, I will be doing some birding next week, but then I will be in Florida.

The ladies make use of this time to get their sewing needs done and perhaps find time to piece and knot comforters.

The church ladies have plans to sew a quilt on the 8th for a benefit auction that will be held later this summer.

The job for the farmers right now is getting barn chores done, taking care of the animals, grinding feed and hauling manure. It will soon be time to start plowing.

The 28th annual Air Works consignment auction will take place Thursday through Saturday, Feb 16-18 at the Mt. Hope Auction.

The employees at the greenhouses are busy already. Today, it sure feels like spring is just around the corner.

Some folks have already topped their maple trees with anticipation of cooking the tasty syrup. The buckets can be seen hanging on the trees as you travel past wooded areas.


I found a recipe for meat balls that I enjoyed and want to share it with you.

Festive Turkey Meatballs



Preheat oven to 350°. Combine the first eight ingredients. Add the turkey; mix well. Shape into 1 in. balls. Place meatballs on a greased rack in a 15x10 in. baking pan. Bake, uncovered, until cooked through and juices run clear, approx. 20-25 mins.

Meanwhile, combine the sauce ingredients in a saucepan; whisk over medium heat until heated through. Brush meat balls with 1/4 cup of sauce; return to oven for 10 minutes. Serve meatballs with remaining sauce for dipping. The sauce is a good honey-mustard dressing for other things as well.

-Taken from the Taste of Home magazine


Quote from a flip calendar:

“Live one day at a time and make it a masterpiece.”


Have a good day!