Part 1: Reading List

I don’t know about you all, but I am an avid reader. I don’t really shy away from reading any particular genres, but I do have my favorites and my favorite authors. So……., I have decided to start sharing some of those here – as a series. I will start this series with what I am currently reading. I will then go back over time and add in some of my other favorites (that I have already read) and give my thoughts on each.
Normally, I tend to read books that give me some  sort of “concrete” information:

  • Self-Help

  • Parenting

  • Religious & Spiritual
  • Cultural Books – Particularly the Amish & Mennonite Cultures
  • Biographies & Memoirs
  • Gardening
  • Cooking
  • How-To
  • Business & Human Resource

But, there is nothing wrong with (in my opinion), a good fictional drama or love story. I can get into a good love story or a “period-set” book like most people can. Don’t get me wrong though – I don’t want the “details” of a trashy romance novel, but a nice modest love story can generally keep me engaged. Combine that with some mild “drama & suspense” and I am sold!

In comes my new favorite author Chautona Havig. On her website, Chautona writes of herself:

“From my earliest years, I spent most of my free time lost in a book, until one day I realized that I had stories in my mind that I wanted to tell. Time passed, life, family, and work got in the way, and my dream of being a writer seemed to vanish into the desert winds.”
“Dreams are beautiful things, though; they never quite disappear. I began writing again, editing, writing, editing, and now I have over a hundred books in progress– some of them finished. I write the stories of fictional people who have real problems, weaknesses, and triumphs. Through their stories, I try to share the Hope that is within me.”
Chautona has SEVERAL series that I am in love with, not wanting them to ever end, but my absolute favorite has got to be the Past Forward series. Ironically enough, the beginning of this series is FREE today on Amazon for Kindle – so if you want to try this series out, without coming out of pocket to do it, today is the day to try!
The synopsis reads:
Alone without friends or family to comfort her after the death of her mother, Willow Finley’s idyllic life is over—and just beginning.

When Willow Finley awakes on a hot summer morning, she is unprepared for the grief that awaits her. Jerked from a life of isolation with her mother, Willow learns what alone really means when she finds her mother still in her bed, never to awaken again in this life.

From the moment Willow arrives in the police station with her startling announcement, Chad Tesdall fights the friendship he knows he can’t avoid.”

Now MY take on it:
This is a story of a young girl who was brought up on a farm where she lived a very sheltered life. She was taught by her mother to be completely self-sufficient. While the rest of society had moved on to modern amenities, Willow was growing her own food, making her own clothes, living without electricity and didn’t own a car, TV, or cell phone.

When her mother died, a local police officer stepped in to help, not because he wanted to, but because there was no one else there to support her and it was the right thing to do.  Despite his reluctance, he always shows up when Willow needs help, and many times when she didn’t need or want help.

This an amazing series which starts out with a mom raising her daughter (Willow), in a Amish kind of lifestyle and transitions through her becoming “indoctrinated” into modern society. This story is compelling, interesting, and keeps you wanting to continue reading, to find out how she handles the changes, and to see how her life turns out with adjusting to all the being around people. You want to find out “What next?”

I do hope that each of you will take a moment to visit Chautona’s website and see all of the amazing work she has done!


*Credit for photos is that of Chautona Havig and they do not belong to me or my site. No copyright infringement is intended. FREE Kindle book was at the time of this posting and price is subject to change.



Busy Weekend = Sweet Results

Not only did we make our own laundry detergent this weekend, we did ALOT of canning! Its getting closer to spring time and we needed to get our freezers cleared out of all the berries and juice we had prepared last year that wasnt made into jams & jellies then. Since it was an unusually cold weekend here in South Louisiana, we decided this was a perfect weekend to do some canning.

First up was Mayhaw Jelly: This weekend we put up 48 1/2 pint jars of Mayhaw Jelly which is one of our favorites!

This is the shelf in my sunroom where the jelly did its final cooling before being moved to the overflow pantry area in the laundry room.

Second up was Strawberry Jam: This weekend resulted in 72 1/2 pint jars of Strawberry Jam which is BY FAR my children’s favorite. We usually go through 1 or 2 jars a week at our house.

Dont those strawberries look delicious!

Of course…. using a burner on the front porch sure does make that water bath boil faster than on the stove and we dont heat the house up as much either!

And you simply CAN NOT spend a day of cooking during Mardi Gras season without eating King Cake while you cook! lol

I even had my hubby in the kitchen cooking. He was stirring the jelly here, but see that pot in the back? That was his delicious vegetable beef soup simmering to perfection!

The BEST part about cold weather is hot food!

Hope you enjoyed your weekend as much as we did!

round button chicken

Yes… We DID Make Our Own Laundry Detergent

I have been reading more and more about people making their own laundry detergent, cleaning products, etc. After looking over many different articles, blogs and posts I decided it was something I wanted to try myself.

Lets face it: we ALL want to save money! That was my main reason for trying it. With six people in our house, there are always clothes waiting to be washed. One of my favorite things about my house is the 14′ x 14′ laundry room. Its nearly as big as my bedroom (or is it bigger? hmmm). Anyway…. its a huge laundry room, one of the most used spaces in our home and I love it. I have a table to fold clothes on, shelves to put the folded clothes on, and a hanging bar to hung clothes up immediately.

We also have an upright freezer in there and one whole wall is lined in shelves that we use as our overflow pantry. Above the washer and dryer are more shelves used for “utility” type things and extras like oil lamps, foot baths, Igloo water cooler, etc. Needless to say, our laundry room is a well used room.

But back to the laundry detergent: I decided to try it out. So, one of my (many) projects over this past weekend was to make laundry detergent. Now mind you, my darling husband thinks I am crazy, and my ex-husband thinks I have totally gone off my rocker. But oh well…. when I have saved my little family some cold hard $$ that when I get to laugh at all of THEM!

The total start up cost of this “project” was about $20. I purchased the following things:

1 Box of Borax
1 Box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
2 Bars of Octagon Soap
1 Bottle Essential Oils
1 5 Gal bucket with lid

Now, I didn’t use NEARLY all of that for my first batch, but I couldn’t see explaining to Walmart that I only wanted 1 cup of Borax & 1 cup of Washing Soda, so I went ahead and bought the whole box they sold it in! 🙂

1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1 bar Octagon Soap
15-30 drops Essential Oil

I have seen many recipes using Fels-Naptha soap, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I saw the “spot” for it in two stores, but they were out so I went with the Octagon soap instead. From what I have seen, any all-purpose bar soap will work: Fels-Naptha, Octagon, Zote, Ivory.

Step 1: Grate 1 whole bar of Octagon Soap

It kind of looks like cheese huh?

Step 2: Mix the grated soap in a pot with 4-5 cups hot water  on medium heat until the soap melts down completely. DO NOT let it get to a boil. Stir in continuously.

Just keep stirring the pot!

Step 3: Once the soap is dissolved, pour it into a 5 gal bucket. Then add: 1 cup Borax & 1 cup Washing Soda. Mix until mostly dissolved.

Add Soap mixture, Borax & Washing Soda to bucket

Step 4: Fill bucket 1/2 full with HOT water. Add 10-15 drops of essential oil for every 2 gals of water. (I used about 25 drops total even though I used more than 4 gals of water.) Mix until well blended.

Yes, I brought the bucket onto the porch and used a drill with a mixer attachment on it!

Step 5: Fill the bucket the rest of the way up with hot water and mix well.

Step 6: Cover and let set over night. Once it has set, it may appear clumped up or like gel or may be watery. (Mine was a mixture of gel and watery.) NO BIG DEAL! Just stir it up and then put into containers (I am using emptied liquid Tide containers).

USE: 1/2 cup per load of laundry

Now I am sure you want to know the COST of this right? Here is my breakdown:
(1 – 5-gal bucket not included in price below)

1 Bottle Essential Oil – $3.60 (Reg Price $5.99 but I got it on sale)
1 Box Borax – $3.38  – 76 oz = .04 cents/ oz
1 Box Washing Soda – $3.24 – 55 oz = .06 cents/ oz
1 Bar Octagon Soap – $0.97

8 oz Borax – $0.32
8 oz Washing Soda – $0.48
1 Bar Octagon Soap – $0.97
Essential Oil (approx 1/5 of bottle) – $0.75
Water – FREE

Total Cost of 5 gals (approx 150 loads)
$2.52 or $0.02 a load
Tide: $19.98 for 170 “loads” = $0.12 a load
When doing JUST 2 loads of laundry a day I am saving:
$0.20 a day
$1.40 a week
$6.00 a month
$72.00 a year
And that is if I only wash 2 loads a day…. I WISH!!!
Not just that we will save $ but that we are being more self-sustaining!

Please join in the fun of a blog hop and see what all our friends have to say at