January Hope : Green Growing Things, Light Chasing, and Books are Most Definitely Friends

The early morning tickle of light burns pink and delightful over the snow and cuts through the intense cold. I’ve been snuggling into warm sweaters {sometimes, two at a time!}, jackets, and soothing stories. Early mornings, especially, have been for putzing around, fiddling with my coffee, rearranging books, obsessively checking my paperwhites to see if they are blooming, trying to suck any bit of hope into my spirit from green things. And let’s talk of light chasing. I often find a patch of sun and close my eyes as I stand in its comforting square. Or gaze at the flicker of candlelight, or hold my hands to the wood burner’s glow. Light around corners, light from the heavens, crystal shards through the sharp refrigerator nights, my breath puffing a halo around me. My rereading of Elizabeth Goudge stories is going to be one of endless delight and delicious mind sustenance. I can tell already and I’ve barely dipped into her massive pile of beautiful words. Yes, I’ve slowly begin rereading her and searching for those I don’t yet have in my collection. The crockpot has been bubbling nonstop {my Instapot, too, albeit something seems to be amiss with the cover! 😦 } with chicken taco soup and chilis. Big fluffy socks, moccasin slippers, peppermint mint tea, and finishing off the coffee with a hint of Christmas scent, along with the children’s copious amounts of hot chocolates with a large side of books have been the order of our days.

We finally packed dear ‘ole man Christmas away, wistfully, and full of gratitude for the cheer, remembrance, and sparkle he brings to winter. Back to Miss Goudge, The Scent of Water, brought me through a tough week mentally, mid January, and Snow & Rose, added a sprinkle of whimsy, too. Although, I’m jealous of those that read Emily Winfield Martin’s sweet book for the first time, the little surprises weren’t there on my second read. Wives & Daughters is bringing me so many friends I wish to know and others I’d not care to be around, looking at you Hyacinth Clare *glares*. Poor Mr. Gibson and Molly!

Taking my tea with me to the post! Sending penpal letters and cards is really a delight!

The class system in Elizabeth Gaskell’s story is so unfathomable to me in my independent, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps 21st American mentality. How women had to move about to be proper is fascinating and sobering. But for all its flaws, this Victorian novel is showing the love of one’s family, connections, and it can’t help but pull you in. Gaskell’s characters are so intriguing, mirror-like for ones soul. Molly Gibson’s too accommodating nature, a peace lover at all costs, even to the determent of herself and those she loves is a bit to close to home for comfort. I wonder if she’s an Enneagram 9? HA! 😉 Mr. Gibson’s deep, interesting character, but his extreme resistance to showing his true feelings reminding me a little of Elinor Dashwood. He keeps his regrets, mistakes, and joys close to his heart. Roger Hamley’s open, curious, kindhearted character falling for beauty without the careful observation that he gives his scientific life, Osborne and Squire Hamley. The Hamley family being probably my favorite friends to follow from Wives & Daughters. The 1999 tv mini series has actually been pretty true to the book! Yes, I watched before reading. I can’t wait to tackle the rest of Gaskell’s novels that I’ve yet to read, as North & South, Ruth, and Wives & Daughters, haven’t disappointed. I know just which one to pull into my lap next as I already have it on my shelves. Mary Barton is waiting and beckoning to me from my TBR pile of possibilities for this year.

My heart is anticipating and super excited to join a book challenge on Instagram/Booktube next month called FebRegency. We will be reading Regency plays, poetry, nonfic, and Regency novels mentioned in Jane Austen’s work. I actually want to reread Mansfield Park, dip my toes in William Wordsworth and William Blake’s poetry, try a Richard Sheridan play, read a few diary entries by Dorothy Wordsworth, and maybe a novelist that inspired Jane Austen, Maria Edgeworth, or Fanny Burnley. The cold, hard Kindle is coming through for me, due to a lot of these things above being free or inexpensive. ❤ So exciting! But, I’m choosing to curb the expectation a bit and S-L-O-W-L-Y enjoy the ten remaining days of January.

If all else fails and my heart needs a little lighter fare, but no less deep, the kindly post brought a volume containing the richness that is Professor Tolkien’s Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham with lovely illustrations by Pauline Baynes of Narnia fame.

Our reading together and nature gratitude continues in our homeschool with our first ever phenology wheel nature journaling project for the year and interesting dips and conversations surrounding The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The Yearling and White Fang have been spotted curled up with various children and Rosemary Sutcliff’s illustrated-by-Alan-Lee versions of The Illiad and The Odyssey are well loved. We keep stumbling forward through the mysterious, beautiful, and maddening world of maths, spelling, the frightening current news, topping it all off with a generous dollop of poetry and music. I’ve been enjoying listening to Spiers & Boden, The Hobbit Soundtrack, Enya, Louis Armstrong, Studio Ghibli Soundtracks, and BTS Kpop. How’s that for eclectic? But the good Lord’s earth is a veritable feast of delights for the taking. I for one want to fight back against the ice, darkness, and cold of this world with a tenacity that rages against it all with a whisper of gratitude, open-handed humility, and a shard of Beauty and Truth – He is strength to the poor, strength to the needy in their distress, a refuge from the storm, and shade from the heat {paraphrasing a tender morsel from the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 25}. I see Jesus as my lighthouse, stalwart and aflame in this black, inkiness that enshrouds earth. I grab ahold of a beam of the light, drink it down, eat it up, and try to let it shine out, so others can join me along the murky path. Shine on, friends, keep drinking in, soaking in His beauty so we can spill a little out, a drip, a dribble of Hope. We need Hope. Hope on. ~

Monday Ponderings {December 20th}

It’s tough to be on the receiving end of love, God’s or anybody else’s. It requires that we see our lives not as our possessions, but as gifts. “Nothing is more repugnant to capable, reasonable people than grace,” wrote John Wesley a long time ago. ~ William Willimon, Watch for the Light, p. 148

4th Sunday in Advent 🎄♥️🎄

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The Four Seasons of Mary Azarian, by Lilias Macbean Hart, illustrated by Mary Azarian

Continuing my Advent musings with Azarian and The Cloud of Witness

In every gladness, LORD, Thou art

The deeper Joy behind.

~George MacDonald

p. 29, The Cloud of Witness

(emphasis mine)

{Take Joy home. Considering the words from J. Ingelow in the above photograph and Mr. MacDonald’s line, also. Just perfection for contemplation while gazing at Azarian’s lovely woodcut. Christmas blessings to you all!}

Monday Ponderings {December 13th}

THE night

Wanes into morning, and the dawning light

Broadens, and all shadows fade and shift!

I follow, follow, – sure to meet the sun,

And confident that what the future yields

Will be the Right,-unless myself be wrong.

Longfellow, The Cloud of Witness, p. 22

3rd Sunday in Advent

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The Four Seasons of Mary Azarian, by Lilias Macbean Hart, illustrated by Mary Azarian

Continuing my Advent musings with Azarian and The Cloud of Witness

…Heaven within the reed

Lists for the flute-note; in the folded seed

It sees the bud, and in the Will the Deed…

~D. Greenwell

How shall we judge their present, we who have never seen

That which is past forever, and that which might have been?

Measuring by ourselves, unwise indeed we are!

Measuring what we know by what we can hardly see.

~F.R. Havergal

Be not proud of well-doing;

for the judgment of God is far different

from the judgement of men, and that

often offendeth, Him which pleaseth them. 

~Thomas A Kempis

God judges by a light Which baffles mortal sight;

And the useless – seeing man the crown hath won

In His vast world above, –

A world of broader love, –

God hath some grand employment for His Son.

~Fabor

all partial or full selections above from The Cloud of Witness, p. 20

2nd Sunday in Advent

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The Four Seasons of Mary Azarian, by Lilias Macbean Hart, illustrated by Mary Azarian {previously published post from December 2019}

Continuing my Advent musings with Azarian and The Cloud of Witness

Earth breaks up, time drops away,

In flows heaven with its new day

Of endless life, when He who trod,

Very Man and very God,

This earth in weakness, shame

and pain,

Dying the death whose signs

remain

Up yonder on the accursed tree, –

Shall come again, no more to be

Of captivity the thrall,

But the one God, All in All,

King of Kings and Lord of lords:

As His servant John received the words,

“I died, and live for evermore.”

~ Browning, p. 9

The Cloud of Witness

Gratitude & Glories {November 2021}

Hello Fellow Wordweavers, Dreamers, and Beauty Chasers ~ isn’t this time of year enchanting? I’m especially in awe of seeing it through my children’s eyes. It’s taken me a long while to just take these simple moments, minute by minute and see them for the gift they are! I’ve been dipping into Robert MacFarlane’s Landmarks again and just recently fell under the spell 😉 of The Lost Spells, oh my, I may be getting this in my stocking as a gift from myself to myself. How has your Advent season started? Hopefully, it’s calm & bright in the deepest part of your soul, despite the external craziness this time of year can bring. Happiest Advent to you!

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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Drive-through light show we like to do during the Festival of Lights ~

I’m Thinking… how odd it feels to be fighting staying present, yet excited about the new year and its dreams, plans, and ideas. There’s just something about a fresh, crisp journal waiting to be cracked open and ink-stained, is there not?!

I’m Thankful For… the grace and space my hubby and children grant me for my weirdness and dreaming.

Views ♥️Coffee♥️Conversation

One of My Favorite Things… the magical half light between dawn and the remnants of dreams – that half dream state of thought, ideas, and creation sprinkled over reality. It’s elusive, but often comes when soaking in The Word {Holy Bible}, the great words of writers & poets down through the ages, glorious art, and music.

I’m Wearing… a favorite grey pullover with a cowl-like neck a lot recently. Jeans, tshirts, and big thick socks. It’s snuggly season.

Coffee and Gorgeous book ~ some of the best things in life ♥️

I’m Watching… Leslie Austen’s peaceful vlogs and old Antiques Roadshow episodes on YouTube. I’m loving Chantel’s bookish vlogmas.

I’m Reading… in a bit of a slump after finishing Laurie R. King’s first in a Sherlock Holmes reimagining, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, which I throughly enjoyed. Thankfully, there are like 18? 😍 books in this series. Hopefully, they will be as good as the first. I also am hoping for a bit of a Jonathan Stroud binge, as I read one of his Lockwood & Co. YA books and really enjoyed it.

Decaf Oat-milk Latte

Im Listening… to a lot of instrumental Christmas music, Brandon Sanderson & Dan Wells podcast, Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly, and I was so enchanted by this talk on Narnia, etc out of Oxford.

I’m Hoping… to continue our quiet Advent readings and keeping things relatively calm so as to truly enjoy celebrating Christmastime. 🎄🎄🎄

Moonshine 🌛🌖🌙

I’m Learning…in giving away, we multiply.

In the Homeschool Room… we are enjoying our Advent and Christmas readings, but just continuing all our great books, at a leisurely pace. We loved making paper bag stars this week and hope to do more soon. We made ours each with 9 lunch bags and hot glue, such a huge, beautiful visual delight.

Celebrating LMM’s birthday this week~

Shared Quote…

“Always clamoring to know, we are ever inconstant. The soul is constant only to this unknowing which keeps her pursuing.”

Meister Eckhart

Azarian Advent

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These posts were originally published in December 2019 and I recently remembered this lovely book and just had to pull it off my shelf. It was a few moments of pure peace as I perused it. Reposting to share a bit of the joy again. Advent begins today! ♥️🎄

The Four Seasons of Mary Azarian, by Lilias Macbean Hart, illustrated by Mary Azarian.

It may be in the evening,

When the work of the day is done,

And you have time to sit in the twilight,

And watch the sinking sun,

While the long bright day dies slowly

Over the sea,

And the hour grows quiet and holy

With thoughts of ME:

While you hear the village children

passing along the street –

Among those thronging footsteps

May come the sound of my feet

Therefore I tell you, Watch!

By the light of the evening star

When the moon is growing dusky

As the clouds afar,

Let the door be on the latch

In your home,

For it may be through the gloaming

I will come.

~B.M. , p. 4

The Cloud of Witness

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{Join me this month in quiet contemplation and prayer on our Savior’s coming…}

~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 ♥️

~Favorite Reads of 2020 and Reading Ideas for 2021 ~

New year, new books ~ fresh, white dusting of pages. 🙂 Firstly, I want to share my favorites of 2020! I’m not including my short reviews as I reviewed everything I read monthly. These are all 4/5 star reads for me! I have categorized them so you can zoom on through to what may interest you. Secondly, I will lay out a few ideas I have for my reading year in 2021. Here is what I wanted to do with my reading in 2020 and all in all, I did do much I what I had wanted to! I wanted to focus on classics, poetry, middle grade, and non-fiction.

~Classic Favorites of 2020~

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread)

One of Ours by Willa Cather

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The Holy Bible 😉

~Poetry Favorites of 2020~

The Other Kind of World: Poems by Jeff Hardin

In the Salt Marsh by Nancy Willard

Jane Kenyon poetry

~Non-Fiction/Memoir Favorites of 2020~

Show Me the Way: Daily Lenten Readings by Henri J. Nouwen

Fierce Bad Rabbits: The Tales Behind Children’s Picture Books by Clare Pollard

Around the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori

Heidi’s Alp: One Family’s Search for Storybook Europe by Christina Hardyment

Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carlson

Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin, and Free by Susan Pierce Thompson

~Middle Grade Fiction Favorites of 2020~

The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson

Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury {very strange, but probably my overall favorite book of the year! Strange year, strange favorite. 😉 }

~Adult Fiction Favorites of 2020~

The Country of Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett

The Child from the Sea by Elizabeth Goudge

Crystal Cave and Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart

~Books about Writing/Creativity Favorites of 2020~

War of Art by Steven Pressfield

A Hundred White Daffodils by Jane Kenyon

Tree & Leaf by J.R.R. Tolkien (read this collection twice!)

~Lucy Maud Montgomery Favorites of 2020~

Anne’s House of Dreams (reread)

Anne of Ingleside (reread)

The Blue Castle (reread)

Christmas with Anne

~Reading Ideas for 2021~

I’d love to keep the same categories from last year (Memoir/Non-fiction, Middle Grade, Classics, Poetry) , but in Non-Fiction, I’d like to try to read a few Biographies. I’m very interesting in Lighthouses and Lighthouse Keepers currently, do you know of any good ones in this area? I’m eyeing one about the Stevenson family, but we will see, as that leads into the next part of my challenge. READ MY SHELVES. I’m blessed to have a large home library and want to do a better job reading what I have! It’s SO hard for me not to buy new books or check books out from the library. But I’d love to grow in this area. The next thing I’d love to do which started unconsciously in 2020, is reread or read Lucy Maud Montgomery more. She really was a boon to me, a sweet delight, and I haven’t read all of her extensive list yet. She is after all my favorite author! Also I love rereading all my favorites from her…the Anne books, Emily, and The Blue Castle, Jane of Lantern Hill, so on so forth. So, I declare a Maud Montgomery Category!

A big change that I’m going to make is that I won’t be doing monthly recaps/reviews of what I’m reading here. I may just list them, include them in a different post, or I’m not sure yet. I will do a Yearly Favorites post, though!

Happy New Year of Reading! Any thing you are looking forward to reading this year?

December Reads

Happy New Year, friends! Another year of books, stories, and beauty! Here’s what I read in December. I’ll be back soon to do my big favorites wrap up for the year and my ideas for my 2021 reading!

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (***) – This was a creepy, sobering, dsytopian-ish, sci-fi story that I saw recommended on BookTube. Peter is an English pastor who is chosen to travel light years away to reach out to the alien natives whose former pastor is missing. Earth begins to collapse and Peter and his wife Bea are only thinly connected by a primitive email system. The Book of Strange New Things is the Bible which the alien race seem to love. I’m not sure what to think exactly about this one, but it was a weird look at missionary work through the eyes of the alien race and those not of faith. Also as Earth is collapsing, the work on the planet seems fruitful and like Peter is making headway. I feel there were major underlying themes in this book and I may have missed something. I am still thinking about it. This left me a little uneasy and it wasn’t a fav. The idea and writing were well done, otherwise this is a 2.5 stars for me.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury (****) – This was something I was waiting on to read in October, but didn’t get it until November and finished in December. This was an amazing look at facing fear, Halloween, life & death, different cultures, and friendship. Very creepy, not for everyone, but just so amazing in it’s own eerie way. We aren’t big on Halloween here, but I love Bradbury’s writing style, soooo….

Mistborn (#1 in a Series) by Brandon Sanderson (***.5) – This was my first Sanderson and I can see why fantasy/sci-fi fans rave about him. I thought his magic system was unique and interesting. I loved the character Saazed, in a mentor-type role, and I found the villian, the Lord Ruler, and his henchmen, the Inquistors fascinating. The main two characters were a little annoying to me, but I will try the other two in the series.

Fierce Bad Rabbits by Clare Pollard (****) – Non-fiction about the history of children’s picture books. I really, really enjoyed this bookish memoir. I especially loved her reflections on memories with her father. I bought this as a Christmas gift!

Alyesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin (***) – This was light, fun modern Muslim-spin retelling of Pride & Prejudice. My daughter and I enjoyed it!

The Last Atlantean by Emily Hayse (***.5) – this was written BEAUTIFULLY. An unique reimagining of the legend of Atlantis. I found the beginning part, a lighthouse on the coast of Maine, to be my favorite of the whole story. Hayse really has a way with descriptions. The middle slowed quite a bit down for me, but I enjoyed the ending and this was very different and creative from what I’ve read recently. I’m going to try more of this author’s work.

In the Salt March by Nancy Willard (*****)- gorgeous, haunting poetry. Highly recommend!

Across the MilesPoems of Fantasy, Faith, & Fun by Annie Douglass Lima (***) – lovely, introspective, traditional rhyming poetry.

When the Heart Sings by Vesper Stamper (*****) – Heart-wrenching, unique look at the death camps of the Holocaust, through the eyes of a teen girl and survivor. Very neat illustrations!

Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton (****) – I was pleasantly surprised by this retelling. Very unique with Polish royalty and New York City during WWII playing into this. It was very fun and intriguing!

Christmas with Anne by L.M. Montgomery (*****) – a lovely collection of short stories with two from the Anne books and other random heart-warming seasonal stories.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (*****) – I did it. 806 pages. It took me a few months. The last 50 pages were my favorites. This was an amazing book. How our uninformed consciences or out of order affections can lead to terrible consequences or despair. How jealousy and guilt can tear us apart. Marriage. Questions about what is life really about and death. About faith and God. Motherhood’s {how did Tostoy write this so well?} questions and worries. I really felt most of all for Dolly and I loved getting an insider look into Levin’s thoughts, doubts, and life. Levin was my favorite because he came across so human and real. The characters were amazingly drawn here, albeit the names/titles a bit confusing. I loved Tolstoy’s writing and the picture he painted especially of the Russian countryside and domestic beauty. Much of the Russian history, I’m woefully ignorant about and that was the only thing slightly difficult about this. Otherwise, it was surprisingly readable. This is my first Russian classic and I really enjoyed it. What a way to wrap up a great reading year.

The Holy Bible (*****) – James, 1&2 Peter, 1,2,3 John, Jude, Revelation, and got a good start into Isaiah.

Happy 8th Day of Christmas, friends! What are you reading? 🙂