Two weeks to go!

It’s exactly two weeks until the release of Dairy, Dairy, Quite Contrary! Two weeks until the start of a new series. Two weeks until you meet Sissy, Duke, Bethel, and the rest of the gang. Two weeks until you get to travel to Yoder, Kansas. Via my book anyway.

Yoder is the best little town, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my two visits there. Actually, I’m already looking forward to the next trip. Not that there’s one planned or anything. Just in my head. Next time Stacey and I go to Yoder we’re going to…

What’s so great about Yoder? you ask. It’s real. It’s genuine. It’s the quintessential small town plus Amish.

Yes, the Amish community is a big part of the Yoder dynamic. Like Chouteau (the inspiration for Wells Landing) some of the Amish children go to the Charter School in town, but of course stop after the eighth grade. The rest go to the one Amish school in the community. A lot of the Amish adults work at the meat processing plant, and a great many of the young people serve up fantastic food at the Carriage Crossing Restaurant and the Bulls Eye Diner.

As in Chouteau, the Amish in Yoder drive tractors during the week and a horse and buggy on Sundays. Both wear the same sort of barrel-like prayer covering, though the Amish women in Yoder tend to wear lighter colors than those in Chouteau.  

Yoder is an unincorporated community of 165 beautiful people. That’s not just the Amish; that’s how big Yoder, Kansas is—English and Amish combined! Keeping that in mind, I had to make a few changes when I wrote Dairy, Dairy, Quite Contrary. First thing—I added a café. The Sunflower Café is where Sissy goes to work with her aunt Bethel. I added a gas station and a florist and honorary mayor. Not sure why I added politics. It just seemed right at the time.

I did my best to keep as much about Yoder intact as possible, though I did alter a few names as I was writing. The Chicken House became the Chicken Coop (FYI this is where Stacey and I stayed on our second research trip). The Carriage Crossing became the Carriage House, and the Bulls Eye became the Bull in Your Eye. But in real Yoder, there is Discount Store, a hardware store, post office, and a meat store. You’ll read about all these in Dairy, Dairy, Quite Contrary. There’s no stop light. One railroad track and just a few places to lounge about. Yet all in all it’s worth the trip. Even via book.

The pictures I took in Yoder are all here on my website. Click the link below to check them out. If you have visited before and seen them, I encourage you to give them a looksee once more. I have recently rearranged the pictures of Yoder to help visitors to my site get the best experience from them. I hope you’ll take a second look!

Thanks for visiting and as always, a big thanks for reading!




Also, if you have a mind and you love mysteries you can check out my site dedicated to all things about my mystery books.


The Amish of Chetopa, KS

Hey! I hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving! Things at Chez Lillard are pretty laid back at the holidays, but that’s just the way we like it. There’s too much stress during the rest of the year; no sense making even more when the times should be happy.

And speaking of happy (see that smooth segue there?) it’s time for another post detailing my recent visit with Stacey and all the Amish Adventures we embarked on this year. #HappyTimes

Now, Chetopa, Kansas was an unscheduled stop in our trip–we had just left Kansas!–but if nothing else, we’ve learned to go with the flow. The flow being discovering the small community while visiting the Amish in Welch, OK.

At best I can figure there is only one church district in Chetopa. There are two schools and it’s clear that they are Old Order Amish. The men boast two suspenders and the women wear the prayer coverings similar to the cylindrical ones they use in Chouteau.

But you know me and I love the little details that make each Amish community unique unto itself. Here are the two best things I learned about the Amish in Chetopa. (which is pretty good seeing as how when the day started off I didn’t even know I was going to Chetopa!)

Each Amish family is allowed to have a phone at their house but it must be in a separate out building (or shanty.) Here is a picture of one of the phone shanties we saw.


And each family is allowed to own one piece of mobile machinery. Here’s a Bobcat we spotted at one farm.

All in all, it was a good trip, although it was a bit short. I guess that’s what happens when you happen upon a community your hadn’t known was there at the start of the day.

For a complete recount of the day in facts and pictures, check out the page I have dedicated to THE AMISH OF CHETOPA.

And as always, thanks for reading!


The Amish of Welch, OK

If you follow me on Facebook then you already know that Stacey and I finally got together after three years! Let me tell you it was long overdue to take a road trip with my bestie and see some (Amish) sights. Yoder, Kansas, of course. This was the main reason for our visit since I have a new series starting there next summer. This was our second visit. Yoder is worth a second look for sure, but we also wanted to make sure I had all the details right. Chouteau, Oklahoma is a must when she’s here since it’s so close, but we also went on a journey into the unknown to find Amish where we weren’t 100% sure that they even lived. But more on that in a minute.

It takes me a while to get through all the pictures we take and get them ready to show you, but I have gotten a few sorted. These are the ones that we took on our quest to find the reported Amish in Welch, Oklahoma.

I’ve had a couple of people tell me that Oklahoma has gained a few more Amish communities in the last few years. Some of those folks were Amish that Stacey and I met during the Clarita School Auction in 2018. Most everyone who follows knows that there is the community in Chouteau. That’s the one that Wells Landing is *very* loosely patterned after. Mostly size and location as well as many of the practices like driving tractors during the week and buggies on Sunday. The town itself is all my invention. And then there’s a settlement in the aforementioned Clarita, Oklahoma, though a lot of times I hear people calling it Coalgate, after the county seat. We’ve been to both, of course, and are always willing to go back, but we wanted to bring you something new and different.

And we found it! When talking about Welch Amish it’s not the same as Lancaster or any of the larger communities. It’s not even the same as Chouteau or Clarita. Basically there are a handful of houses out in the country. They are reported to keep mostly to themselves. But we wanted to see what it was all about.

Welch is a tiny town—population 619 in 2010—just eight miles south of the Oklahoma/Kansas border. There are a couple of convenience stores, a post office, and at least one really great place to eat.

As I said the Amish in this area mostly farm for a living and keep to themselves. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed because I love to visit Amish-owned businesses. Honestly my favorite is when they have little shops outside their houses where people can buy canned goods, potholders, and beaded jewelry, among other things. However in mulling it through, I’m sure there has to be a certain amount of tourist traffic for this to be even remotely profitable. And I’m fairly certain that the Amish in Welch don’t have this sort of English draw—not yet anyway. Who knows what the future holds for this new community?

While in Welch we ate at The Cow restaurant. Fantastic food and great service. The waitresses were so nice and helpful. One even told us the story of how the Amish came to help when her grandfather’s lumberyard burned. The Amish came asking if they needed any help rebuilding. The family said they hadn’t figured out how they were going to finance the rebuild. The Amish said, that’s not what we asked you. We asked if you needed help. And they pitched in without thoughts of money or compensation. So they might keep to themselves but when the chips are down it seems they can be counted on to help. Very neighborly, for sure!

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the trip. To see them all, click HERE to view the page I have dedicated to the Amish of Welch, OK. And if you haven’t checked out the site in a while, feel free to look around. There just might be something new to see.

Thanks for reading!



Amish Adventures in 2019

I love to tell readers about my (and Stacey’s) Amish adventures. Especially our trips from this past year. Did you know we visited seven different Amish communities? What fun we had!

But here it is, already June, and I’ve been through Chouteau (again), but nothing else. I could laugh and say things like ‘Time flies’ and ‘Where does it all go?’ and it would be an honest account. But the rest of the truth is that things change. I have-had a senior this year and if you’ve been through that experience, there is a lot of money and time involved. And then most of you know that Stacey’s mother had a stroke and is still in recovery. Needless to say life has sort of put the kibosh on most (if not all) of this year’s travel plans.

But that’s not why I invited myself into your computer today. I have a story to tell. See, it’s something of a joke in my family that wherever I go I manage to find the Amish. Like the little boy in the movie the Sixth Sense, except, “I see Amish people.” The joke goes a bit further in that I still haven’t managed to find the Amish KC Chiefs fans, but I’m hopeful for next season. (This is not a joke. There really are ex-Amish season ticket holders! And since we have tickets ourselves…It’s inevitable, right?)

Seriously though, I go to the mall, I find Amish people. The flea market, Amish people. McDonalds, Amish. And it has happened again.

My mother came into town for my son’s graduation. Her route to Oklahoma was interesting though not straight forward. She drove from Alabama to her friend’s house in Memphis. This friend was driving out to Bentonville, Arkansas, to her own granddaughter’s high school graduation. Since my mom caught a ride with her, all I had to do was drive to Arkansas to pick Mom up.

It was a fun drive over for me, little road trip consisting of me, my Beetle, Google maps, and Apple music. Then I hit a light in small town Arkansas and looked over at the gas station across the way. You know, just checking things out. I saw a tractor.

Now I’m always looking for interesting things to take pictures of to share with you, and it crossed my mind for a moment to take a picture of the tractor and its as-of-yet-unseen driver. But “Nah,” I thought. “It’s not like it’s Amish people.”

The light turns green and I go, just in time to pull up behind the tractor which is now on the roadway.

Wait…what? Are those Amish girls on board? Not just one, but two!

I quickly snapped a picture to remember the moment and did a speedy voice note in my phone so I would record where I was: Gentry, Arkansas. I knew there were a couple of Amish communities in Arkansas but had no idea one was so close. So far I haven’t been able to find out much about them online. I guess Stacey and I will have to put this on our list of places to visit. I do know one thing…they drive tractors. But you’ll be the first to know when we find out more!

Summer 2018, part 1

I know everyone always says this, but how did it get to be October? I feel like the summer went by so fast. Maybe because Stacey and I had such adventures! We visited seven different Amish communities this year! And 2018 is not over yet! (I’m just playing. We will not be taking any more trips this year. I have books to write, but it was fun to say.)

Seven different communities? Yes! Lancaster County, Kish Valley, Richfield PA, Charlotte County VA, Choteau OK, Clarita OK, and Yoder KS. Seven different Amish communities means a lot of pictures! I’m currently getting them all ready to go up here so you can see them, but these things take time and of course there are still books to write.

So I’m breaking this up into sections (I’m thinking 5). First up are the three communities that we visited in Pennsylvania. Of course we went to Lancaster to visit our friends, and we went to Kish Valley (the setting for the Kappy King Mystery Series.) And then there’s Richfield. So we didn’t see a lot of Amish there and we only took a couple of pictures, but I wanted to get this community on the books here with the rest of my Amish adventures. Next year, we’re going to dig a little deeper and see what we can learn about the Amish in Richfield.

Here are the links to the pictures so you can find them easily. I’m going to be talking more about the trip and some of the great things we learned, saw, and did. One interesting thing was the continual spotting of the church wagon. I’d never seen one before and this trip to PA I saw three! (I saw four total this summer as there was also one visible in Yoder, KS. But that’s a tale for another day.)

Be sure to keep your eyes out for the pictures of the church wagons. And be sure to scroll down on the page with the pictures of Kish Valley. I took a bunch of pictures at the cemetery. I find all the graves very interesting. Some are so old. I love reading the names and what they say about their loved ones. Hope you enjoy it too.

Hope you enjoy this first look into our trips this summer. Here’s my favorite pic of the bunch.


Which one is your favorite?

Thanks for reading!


Quilt Time!!!

Yes, it’s been a while since we started collecting fabric for the Third Annual Amish Quilt Giveaway and the time to announce the winner is here! Well, it’s tomorrow. Today is about showing off this beauty! This is a postage stamp quilt, pieced and quilted by our Amish friends in Lancaster. Isn’t it amazing?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the quilt giveaway, this is something I’ve hosted for the past three years and plan to continue in the upcoming year. Readers and quilt fans submit a 12 1/2 x 12 1/2 piece of fabric–design of their choice. We collect the fabric and take it to Lancaster to be made into a beautiful quilt. The size of the quilt depends on the available fabric and usually the design is the choice of our Amish friends. They work during the spring and summer months to piece it and quilt it for us to giveaway in the fall. The timing is one thing that delays the announcement of the winner. Spring and summer months are the busiest for the Amish. Even planning for the upcoming fall weddings takes up time in the summer months.

But after tomorrow your wait will be over. Each entrant is given a number as the fabric comes in. Tomorrow, will choose a number and the corresponding participant will be our winner!

Good luck to all of those who entered this year! And if you missed the deadline for this year’s giveaway, next year’s quilt is now open for submissions. See the complete list of instructions on this website’s QUILT PAGE. While you’re there, be sure to check out the FAQs for the giveaway and the official rules and regulations.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Oh, wait…you want to see the quilt? I suppose. LOL

Here is is!!!


Amazing, right? And the best part of all, it’s a community project. Readers come together and supply the material for a chance to win.

I wish we had a quilt for each and every one of you! But alas, there can be only one winner. Stay tuned for that announcement tomorrow. And good luck to all!

Release Day!

It’s release day for Marrying Jonah! I’m so excited to finally bring you Jonah’s story! He’s been patiently waiting in the wings for his chance at his happy ending. And this one…well, I;m hearing that it;s the favorite for a lot of readers. Hope you enjoy!

WL book 6

Marrying Jonah Amy Lillard a Wells Landing romanceLife isn’t always as simple as it seems for the Amish community of Wells Landing, Oklahoma. Neither is love. . .

Everyone in town knows that Sarah Yoder is enamored with Jonah Miller, even though he’s been with his girlfriend, Lorie, for years. But all that changes when Lorie runs off with another man. Inconsolable, his faith in love shattered, Jonah resists everyone’s attempts to ease his pain—until the unexpected happens one night.

Jonah is filled with confusion. Sarah is not the woman he yearns for, yet he asks for her hand in marriage, if only out of honor. Still, he worries, can they live in harmony if their vows are built on a lie? As Sarah seeks spiritual advice, Jonah tries to look toward the future—and finally begins to see her for who she really is: A beautiful, strong-willed woman whose heart is pure and belief is true. But will it be too late for him to prove that he wants to be her husband?

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Let’s Talk About Witness

Someone (who shall remain nameless <cough> Stacey Barbalace) has got me watching Orange is the New Black on NetFlix. If you don’t know the series, it’s about a 30-something WASP who is convicted of drug trafficking (one bad decision 10 years ago) and sentenced to federal prison. The show is magnificent! But I digress.

If you want to know more about Orange is the New Black, click the link below.

In the series you get to meet other federal inmates including an ex-Amish young woman, Leanne. When the other inmates find out she was once Amish, they ask her all sorts of questions, including ones about Witness. Leanne exclaims, “That movie has so many inaccuracies.”

Now, I’m no expert, but the movie seems pretty authentic to me as far as the Amish are concerned. But I did notice one ‘mistake.’ Rachel (Kelly McGillis) has just lost her husband but doesn’t wear black as a sign of mourning. Keeping this in mind, I started to do a little digging.

I know Orange is the New Black had consultants and I’m sure that Witness did too. There was a lot of controversy when the movie first came out. I believe it was one of the first times that I had ever heard about the Amish. But those were the days before the Internet and before the enchantment with the Amish lifestyle had grown into what it is today. This article was published in 1985, the year the movie came out.

It’s from People magazine and they are fairly legit. And I can see why he said what he said during the time he said it given who he is. Hope you followed that. <G> But if the movie were released today, I don’t believe anyone would think the same. The Amish (at least the ones in Lancaster) have become quite good at capitalizing on the English fascination with their day to day lives.

Wikipedia says the movie was not well received by the Amish when it released and that the governor of Pennsylvania made a public promise to not “promote Amish communities as future film sites. ” (That quote is from Wikipedia, not his speech.)

If you want to read more click the link:

With all this talk of inaccuracies and opposition, I started digging again to see what had everyone all upset. From my investigation it appears that the biggest problem with the movie was the violence. Some even claimed that the Amish would not have let a wounded cop stay in the house to recover. And that may have been true at the time, but I’m not sure. It’s interesting to think about. Yes, the Amish are pacifists, but helping a fellow human being doesn’t mean you condone their actions or lifestyle. Just a thought.

Rachel had already been set up as a bit of a rebel (maybe that’s why she wasn’t wearing black) and seemed like the sort of person who would go against what others might deem proper. In fact, that’s one of the things I liked about her.

So I looked up movie mistakes for Witness, hoping to see the Amish facts put to the test. Instead, I found problems with congruence, a few technical mistakes, and an artistic license with physics. But not problems with the Amish details.

Movie mistakes:

I also found some trivia.

All in all, I feel that Witness was a great story and despite the controversy, it remains one of my favorite movies.

What about you? Did you notice any Amish problems with the show? Do you remember the controversy when it was released?  Can you imagine anyone else but Harrison Ford as John Book? Comment below before a chance to win an autographed copy of Titus Returns.

And as always, thanks for reading!



Please keep in mind that I would like to start a discussion–a friendly discussion. Please respect other people’s opinions and in some cases agree to disagree. Thanks!

Amish Benefit Auctions

“If anyone sees his brother in need and fails to give…what evidence is there of God’s love?”
– 1 John 3:17

My husband came home today and told me that we were going to make another big pot of venison chili for him to take to work. He took one for a Valentine’s Day party and it was a big hit! But this chili they are going to sell as a fundraiser for a co-worker whose wife has cancer. I’m telling Stace about it, and she reminded me how this is so much like the Amish. (BTW–the chili recipe is at the end of this post.)

It’s widely known that the Amish take care of themselves. In fact, their sense of community is one of the many things I admire about them. One of the most popular ways that they support each other and their community is through various types of benefits and auctions.

Now they have regular auctions, though mostly for produce. But it seems that most go to benefit a family in need. Perhaps the biggest auction is the Haiti Auction.

According to,  the purpose of this auction is to “bring relief to the hungry, sick, naked, and homeless of Haiti. The ultimate goal is to bring them to Christ through providing for their physical and spiritual needs. Relief is given throughout the country of Haiti without regard to race, religion, or creed.”

The auction is held throughout the United States in such places as Pennsylvania, Florida, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. My friends attend this auction in Pennsylvania every summer. This year, I’m hoping to attend as well! The benefit is held in January for the Pinecraft community, but in July for Lancaster. Five or six tents are set up with auctions occurring in each tent throughout the day. Furniture, quilts, tools, crafts, gardening and farm supplies, firewood and more are put up for auction. Food is served in a special tent all day. At exactly 12 noon, an announcement is made over the loud speaker. Everyone stops, prays, then sings a song together. Can you imagine how amazing it sounds to hear hundreds of people singing together?

The highlight of the day is the silent auction. Many unique items are put up for auction, such as a day of labor supplied by a group of Amish youth, a wing supper donated by an Amish couple, and a ton of hay or straw.

Sometimes an auction is organized to help pay for the medical expenses of someone who has been injured or fallen ill. My Amish friend also attended a benefit auction recently that was held to help raise money for a man who had fallen out of a tree and was left paralyzed from the accident. Members of the community donated quilts, wall hangings, tools, pies, and more to be auctioned off. Everyone also brought a covered dish to share. After making a donation, attendees passed through the food line and enjoyed the various pot luck dishes that were donated.

The community also held a benefit for an Amish woman whose husband left her and her children for the English world. This was a different type of event called a “Stop and Shop”.  Several vendors (Pampered Chef, Tupperware, 31, Tastefully Simple, etc.) set up shop in someone’s basement. Friends, family, and neighbors stopped by to shop. They bought raffle tickets and purchased lunch and baked goods. Donations were also accepted. All proceeds went to the person in need.

The Clarita School Auction is held every September in the Amish community of Clarita, OK. Items are donated to help support the local Amish school. In fact, the Clarita School Auction is the recipient of the quilts made by the women of my Amish Quilting Circle Series. If you happen to be in OK around this time, you should check it out! Here’s the link for more information.

I can’t help but wonder how much better our world would be if we took direction from the Amish and reached out to help our neighbors more.

Have you been to an Amish auction? What about a benefit for someone–Amish or English? Comment below and your name will be added to this week’s drawing. The prize up for grabs? A large print edition of Titus Returns. (It’s hard back!)

Be sure to check out the rest of the pictures from previous Amish auctions…

Haiti Benefit Auction 2014 & 2015

And as always, thanks for reading!




This recipe is a jpeg. You can ‘right click’ and save it to your computer. Then you can print from there!