Monday Ponderings {November 22nd}

Grandma’s Cranberry Bread Recipe from one of our favorite Thanksgiving stories was a hit here this past weekend. Have you read or baked anything lovely lately? ♥️🦃

“My fingers tingle to grasp a pen-my brain teems with plots. I’ve a score of fascinating dream characters I want to write about. Oh, if there only were not such a chasm between seeing a thing and getting it down on paper!”

L.M. Montgomery,
Emily Climbs, p. 255

~Advent & Christmas Reads 2021~

These are the books I’ve chosen off my shelves to use for my personal reading during Advent this year. Have you read any of these?♥️
These are the books I’ll be dipping into together with my family! ♥️🎄
Each of my children will have an individual book or two to read during December and January. ❄️❄️❄️

Hello, Friends ~ I have books on the brain after watching some of Miranda’s lovely YouTube vlogs yesterday! These are my choices for this year along with a lovely, gigantic pile of Christmas picture books. I’m not letting my children start looking at them till November 28th 🙃😅 when Advent officially starts. Anticipation & expectation. Are you doing anything special to mark the Advent season? Meanwhile, for those of you that celebrate, Happiest American Thanksgiving 🦃🍂🍁 to you!

Love, Amy ♥️

We Write to Remember: A Look Back

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I wrote this piece below in the late autumn of 2016, the winter winds whistling around the corner. Still as true today. Keep the ink flowing free, my friends. 🍁🍂🍁🍂

I read somewhere once that we write so we won’t forget. I recently joined a memoir writing class at a local library and you know, it has me digging deep into the recesses of my foggy memory for life experiences. It’s hard. Scraps of life jump out to me, childhood games of pretend, forcing my sister to eat grass because we were rabbits. An award ceremony, the cold, hard delight of that basketball trophy gripped in my hand. My grandma’s cigarette-smoke filled home, the soap operas, Smurfs, ice cold milk in old jelly jars, and stale cookies out of her raccoon-shaped cookie jar.

I hear bits of my teacher trying to consul me about my lack of brain function over math. I feel the pain after hitting the wall instead of my brother with my pathetic attempt at a punch. Flashes of my high school and college jobs, the chop suey sold and all the apples and ramen noodles consumed by this broke college student.

Little fragments tinkle and crumble through my hand. But I’m forgetting. My mind is blank in some spots. I remember bits of my wedding, the hot, sticky, humid September air. The kiss from the leathery lips of my husband’s grandfather. I remember smiling so much my lips cracked, the frosting up my nose, my new husband’s hand on my satin-clad waist.

I must keep remembering in ink, so the remembering in life will never be forgotten. I must remember my babies births, that moment when they broke free of my womb and I see their precious face, lips, hands, and toes for the first time. It’s slipping away in a jumble of fog, life, hurt, joys and the simmering soup of time.

I don’t want to forget that first car my dad helped me buy, or the beauty, intrigue, and tension of my first love. The summer camp nights, big group of friends gazing at a sky full of stars. The miles I walked on campuses, Professor Grant’s face from English Lit or a sociology class that turned out fascinating. The Ph.D student from China, who I met and became close with, him cooking Chinese for me and I dubbing him Doc, his laugh echoing and head shaking at my lame attempt with his name. I could go on and on.

I must write to remember, keeping my life moments alive. I have these memories that only I can save from slipping away forever.

Gratitude & Glories {October 2021}

Maud Montgomery, Vanilla Almond Tea Latte with oat milk, and a cosy blanket…pure bliss, Amy-style 😄
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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

November sings out loudly my favorite practice of gratitude keeping. A sort of conscious, daily, or monthly digging for and airing of all the small things I have to be truly astonished by in life. Won’t you join me in this November song?

Looking Out My Window… it’s definitely turned frostier around our edges, the finches at the feeders bring a smile to my face watching them fluffing up their feathers, pulling on their sweaters for winter. The days are pretty mild still for this time of year and one of my little boy’s eyes grew saucer-sized at the promise of Christmas next month.

I’m Thinking… about loved ones walking through covid, about the approaching holidays, and about NaNoWriMo – a lovely November collective challenge online of writers who write 50,000 words of a new novel. While I’m not writing on a new project, I’m making an effort to work on writing each day. It’s gloriously inspiring! Do you NaNo?

A favorite spot, sunlight, and little, darling boy ♥️

I’m Thankful For… my oldest surprising me with a beautiful forest scene Kindle cover, a new stack of deliciousness to dip into from the public library, and anticipation over all the interesting things at our homeschool co-op tomorrow.

One of My Favorite Things… slowly collecting all of L.M. Montgomery’s stories and other writings. Bonfires, stargazing, and my new-to-me striped floral blanket.

I’m Wearing… my favorite green pants, new comfy jewel-toned socks, and tshirts and cardigans. I broke out my Red Converse and found some older, favorite earrings. I had to throw away my favorite slippers, so maybe Santa aka ME 😉 will get me some new ones for Christmas.

I’m Creating… scenes for my two middle-grade stories, working on two short stories, morning pages/journaling, blog ideas, and planning little Christmas gift surprises.

I’m in love with words ♥️✍️😍

I’m Watching… Hercule Poirot 😄 and hopefully, Spirited Away soon.

I’m Reading… L.M. Montgomery short story collections, rereading Emily Climbs, Ray Bradbury’s Green Shadows, White Whale, and peeking into a library stack to see if anything catches my fancy. I just finished ✔️ The Personal Diaries of Alison Uttley and it was so interesting.

Gifts ♥️

I’m Listening… Spotify Japanese instrumental, Studio Ghibli soundtracks, and Hobbit/LoTR soundtracks.

I’m Hoping… to keep up writing momentum, do Operation Christmas Child gift boxes with my children, and visit some favorite haunts with my husband soon.

Mossy rock friend ♥️

In the Garden… frost, friendly ghosts, and dreams of summer 😌♥️

I’m Learning… that writing, sharing, servanthood, and art can birth new art and gifts…we fill to pour out ourselves. We return again and again in a glorious flowing seasonal circle of beauty.

Do not despise the day of small things ♥️

In the Kitchen…lots of pork sausage with cabbage stir fry. The children love this mixed with brown rice. I created a Chicken Taco Chili in the Instapot and it was a hit. We’ve been eating more butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash, too!

In Homeschool Room…we are enjoying our group gatherings at the table to listen to music or Shakespeare’s Hamlet while we nature journal.

My husband and I’s recent anniversary trip was lovely! I especially loved hiking and visiting an art museum 🍁🍂🍁🍂

Shared Quote… “LORD, we need more reincarnations of Thy perfect love like the Christ. Is that the goal every Christian ought to make his own? The question seems to answer itself. But how, God, can all these little Christians succeed when those who have best opportunity find it so hard? I see only two things: first, constant outpourings of Thy Holy Spirit; second, the doctrine of ever fresh beginnings. We may forgetfully sink for an hour, but we may also start over at any moment.” ~Frank C. Laubach

Rainbow sunset ♥️

Let your heart rejoice, my friends! Love, Amy 🍁

Reminiscing: November Past ~ Five Years on WordPress

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{This month, November 2021, celebrates 5 years here at Hearth Ridge Reflections! I thought I’d maybe dig up a few of my old posts in remembrance and gratitude for 5 years of life and reflection. This post is from November 2016, a small lifetime ago, eh? Hope you enjoy!}

The morning suns greets my eyes. I slip on my glasses and glory in the view. The old house creaks a bit and I walk pass the piles flooring we have yet to put in upstairs. I stumble down the ancient farmhouse stairs, dreaming of a steaming cup of coffee. Perhaps I should set up a coffee maker in my room? Maybe that is a bit extreme. 🙂 The chatter of voices greet me. “Hey, Mom. Guess what my dream was?” and “What’s for breakfast?” and “I’m cold, Mom! Where’s my sweatshirt?” all sing out as I grab my package of coffee from the freezer and start my Nectar of Life a brewing. My son begins making oatmeal for everyone, which usually ends up somewhere between water-y porridge or rock hard cement, but we all love it with brown sugar, walnuts, and a dash of milk. Some add a twist with a bit of peanut butter.

I am a huge fan of the author Gladys Taber. Have you read anything by her? She wrote extensively on her farm, Stillmeadow. As I pour my coffee, I take in the scene around me and begin to compose it, in my head, attempting to grasp the charm that Gladys always seems to find as she pens her normal days around the farm. Of course, Gladys lived a different life than me. She worked outside of the home for a time and also ends up having more dogs than children. Yet, I feel a kinship to her, leaning back against the cupboard, sipping, and taking in the beauty of the daily mundane doings and yes, chaos.

“Good news, Mom! Gandalf’s pink eye is clearing up!” is the glad shout I hear next from a precious child. Yes, go ahead and chuckle. Gandalf is our barn cat, so I guess creatures do have a part in my life, Gladys.

We move on through our day, alternating between discussions, chores, and books, with a few fights over stuffed animals and whose scissors the purple ones REALLY are. (They’re actually mine.) Ahh… glorious books. We have chosen to live life with our children here at home, learning together. Gerald Johnson takes us through early American history, we laugh at Ogden Nash’s poetry, and giggle as Louis the Trumpeter Swan learns how to play TAPS on his new trumpet. We write some, do a little math, make some caramel corn, and breathe the fresh, albeit tinged with burning leaves, country air. Someone is always asking me when’s the next meal. My crock pot definitely earns its keep.

I gaze at the steam rising from my coffee cup. Sigh. “Mom, the sewer guy is here.” My romantic ruminations are ruined. Reality stinks a bit, doesn’t it? 😉 I watch the fellow from my window, what a job, huh? He is stooped and haggard looking, I’m thankful for him, he makes my job a bit easier.

A few loads of laundry swirling around, blankets on the line. The scratching noise of pen on paper, drawings and journal entries being created. An old, petrified apple core peeks out from under the couch at me. Ahh. These November days. I get “questioned out” at about 4:00 pm, is there really still 4 or 5 hours till bedtime? Yet, I love this life I’ve been given. So, like Gladys and everyone before and those to come after, I rustle up some ingredients and go about thinking supper thoughts. I sneak in a few minutes of reading in my “garrett” as my daughter calls my bedroom, where I like to hide as frequently as possible. “You can’t just stay up here in your garrett all day, Mom, like Jo March!”

I cave in and put on the electronic babysitter. They have chosen the 1935 version of A Midsummer’s Night Dream with James Cagney and Mickey Rooney. It’s a bit creepy and weird, but I hear a laugh. A Puck-ish laugh, come to think of it.   Later the candles are lit, we began our supper with prayers and because it’s the season of thanksgiving, we purposefully go around sharing what we are thankful for today.

I’m thankful for all the November days days I’ve been given, for little blonde girls who shared their drawing with me, “Here’s what I drawed, Mom.”. I’m thankful for grins after a resolved fight over Nutella, and the piles of books to dig into soon. I’m thankful for the beauty of life. And maybe I DO need that coffee maker in my garrett.

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A favorite recipe for you!

Skillet Sausage and Mushroom Penne

*adapted from original recipe from December/January 2014 Cook’s Country magazine – I use things I have on hand and I’ve doubled the original recipe here for my crowd.

1 pkg sausage of your choice (I use breakfast sausage )

fresh mushrooms, chopped – (I use half to a whole package)

4 cups chicken broth

1 can diced tomatoes (sometimes 2, depending if I feel tomato-y or not)

about 1 1/2 packages penne, this is like 18 oz?? I think

1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I actually use half n half, because I rarely have cream on hand)

Parmesan cheese (being the gourmet that I am, I use the green can shake cheese, I know. The horror. You are welcome to use freshly grated.)

  1. Cook sausage, breaking it up, until no longer pink, add in mushrooms. Cook together till brown. Transfer mixture to bowl, set aside.
  2. Return skillet to heat, add broth, tomatoes and juice, pasta, and cream. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer, stirring often, until pasta is al dente. (I actually use a pot, because of the doubling of the recipe!)
  3. Stir sausage-mushroom mixture and 1/2 cup Parmesan into pasta. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with other 1/2 cup of Parmesan, cover, and remove from heat until cheese is melted.

Enjoy! I serve it alone for quick lunch or add a salad as a side for a bigger dinner.

Monday Ponderings {November 1st}

Happiest November!🍁🍂🧡🤎

“Well, let us see. What do I like? I like my own children and all nice, fat, clean babies anywhere. I like all kinds of books if they’re well written whether they are religious or philosophical or sentimental or cynical or humorous or exaggerated or indecent. I like writing books myself. I like cats and horses and some dogs. I like curling breakers, woods and mountains and stars and trees and flowers. I like nicely furnished houses. I like good Victrola records and the music of the violin. I like pretty china and glass and old heirloom things. I like a cosy bed and a tight hot water bottle. I like being kissed by the right kind of man. I like jewels and pretty clothes. I like doing fancy work and I like cooking and I like eating nice things other people cook. I like motoring and driving and walking. I like a systematic life with occasional dashings over the traces. I like open fires and moonlit nights. I like chatty letters. I like compliments. I like to see a person I dislike snubbed. I like my own looks when my hair is dressed a certain way. I like a snack at bedtime. I like going out to dinner. I like helping other people and I like to be very independent of help myself. I like sunset and pictures and sea bathing. I like keeping a journal. I like reading old letters…” ~ L.M. Montgomery, The Selected Journals, Volume II, p. 370-371

{Wasn’t that interesting and humorous? She goes on a bit more, too! I love reading writer’s and homesteader’s journals and diaries, especially from a woman’s perspective as I think they were at the heart of everything. Do you? I also love making lists of things I’m currently enjoying or loving like Maud did here. Have you ever done this?}

Monday Ponderings {October 25th}

The Van Gogh Experience was glorious! I’ve been thinking about how lovely it was to go with sisters, mom, and sister-in-law in August.

Frankincense was a fragrance that arose only after being touched with fire. The burning incense became clouds of sweetness arising from the heart of the flames…

The Love-Life of Our Lord via Streams in the Desert p. 351

Monday Ponderings {October 11th}

My 12 yo loves baking from this book! Lemon cookies for teatime. ❤️

…I am quite sure that if you tell the truth, you will feel something real. “Feeling something real” is where I prefer to live, trying to palpate the small moments of life, the moments of intuition, the places where we fail and where we change.

Marion Roach Smith, The Memoir Project, p. 4

Wendell Berry: The Seed is in the Ground…

“The seed is in the ground.

Now may we rest in hope

While darkness does its work.”

Wendell Berry

It’s late {for me} Saturday night. The noises of last minute doings, rumblings, and little children can be heard. I’ve had a day of inky ideas and wind-tousled whispers and thoughts and heart and Spirit stirrings. In-between all the dishes, spills, and grocery lines. But that’s ok, things wait. There’s a time and place and season. Aslan is on the move. The seed is in the ground…and I’m going to rest in hope, while darkness does her work. Hope you are hopeful tonight, too. Love, Amy