Favorite Reads {4th Quarter 2022} 🐈❄️☕️🫖📚📬

Currently, dipping into a lot of Christian non-fiction…

Hello, friends! Hope this bookish update finds you well. We’ve had a bout of illness in our family, but thankfully, we’ve been able to cuddle up and hunker down a bit. I had a great 2022 4th reading quarter, starting in October with a readalong on Booktube called Victober. It’s focusing on reading Victorian literature and I so enjoyed the relationship between the father and daughter and the internal workings of the Church of England in The Warden by Anthony Trollope. Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell was a lovely group of characters trying to make their way as mill workers and masters in the harsh industrial climate of north England. A murder and false accusations bring the class tensions to the forefront. Gaskell is quickly becoming a favorite author! I extended my Victorian reading into November where I read Man & Wife by Wilkie Collins, a sensationalist novel with murder and bittersweet moments. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the characters and story as I haven’t finished any other Collins book.

Poetry ♥️

November brought a fantasy duo-logy with hints of the 12 Dancing Princesses, sparkling intrigue, Arabian nights, pirates, and fairyland. I wasn’t sure I would like Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier, but I really did! Being pulled away into these worlds was fascinating and I loved the character growth. These were intense, but YA so not as dark as her adult fiction. Marillier is a beautiful writer. I also reread a favorite fantasy A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos with an online friend and this political thriller in a fantastical world was so fun to return too! I really enjoy Ophelia, the main protagonist and her animated scarf. She is betrothed to a stranger and on her way to his polar land and there’s a lot going on beneath the surface of this political matchup. I rounded out the month with sweet classic children’s stories, Family Sabbatical by Carol Ryrie Brink and Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson. These both were so lovely and heartwarming. Brink sends a family of five on a research trip to France and they have so many delightful adventures. Ibbotson wrote the Amazon River area so beautifully and her nature writing really brought the story to life.

December’s reading was wonderful with the British family story, High Rising by Angela Thirkell making me laugh. An widowed author and her son and village’s highjinks. I also loved listening to The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, read and performed by Richard Armitage while I held a sick little boy. It was heartwarming and inspiring. Braddon is a new-to-me Victorian author and I can’t wait to try more of her. I read a novella?/ short story by Emily Hayse called Yours, Constance, and I’m still thinking on this one. The setting was a glittery 1920’s party scene. We are in the head of Constance, a wealthy, cynical young woman who has recently lost her sister. The glitz and the glam don’t fool her, but something strange is happening in the crowd she runs with. This has a supernatural element and is very fast paced, but you quickly grow to appreciate Constance and understand the internal tensions she’s going through. Last but not least, I picked up the nonfiction Aggressively Happy by Joy Marie Clarkson and wow. This packed a powerful punch about how to live loved and to embrace all the seasons of our life in a meaningful way. These were my favorites from the fourth quarter of the year, what were yours? I’ll be back soon hopefully with my favorites of 2022!

Writer’s Web: Catching Inspiration from Women Writer’s of Charming Family-ish Fiction 🕯📖📜🖊♥️

Betsy and Tacy’s replica bench from Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy Tacy Series. Mankato, MN ♥️📖

I’ve been thinking about the stories that inspire me and of course, the writer’s behind those stories. I was so excited to recently visit Mankato, Minnesota (Deep Valley in the stories!) and stop at many of the places mentioned in Maud Hart Lovelace’s semi-autobiographical series of children’s stories. Oh, the delicious delight and wonder of seeing the places Betsy (Maud) and her friend Tacy (Frances) haunted and thinking on how Maud captured the specific, odd, charming details that make her stories ring true. It made me think of all the other authors that write these types of stories and how much they inspire me!

One of these lovely kindred souls being Carol Ryrie Brink, an American author, with lovely family stories that warm my heart, so far my favorite being Winter Cottage, a story set in the Great Depression era in Wisconsin, a widower and his children making the best of very hard circumstances. Family Grandstand being a cherished read aloud in our family of an university professor, writer mother, and three kids in a rambling house with a turret and all their adventures. I’ve finally began the sequel, Family Sabbatical with some Booktube friends and the first chapter was SO delightful. Brink, of course, is most famous for her story inspired by her grandmother’s life, Caddie Woodlawn.

An English author that I’ve recently been stalking and been so inspired by is Noel Streitfeild. I first heard of her from one of my favorite films “You’ve Got Mail” in which Kathleen Kelly talks about “the shoe books”. Come to think of it now, Kathleen also talks of Betsy Tacy books in her bookshop and sells some to Joe Fox’s aunt! 😉😄♥️ Streitfeild is wonderful at putting children and families into unique, slightly strange settings and situations. I absolutely was riveted by her story The Magic Summer, about children dumped on an eccentric aunt in the barren Scottish? countryside. Family Shoes (The Bell Family) was delightful as the children tried to help their poor vicar father and mother with money in hilarious ways. There are so many more to explore and I’m currently loving Apple Bough (Traveling Shoes).

Elizabeth Enright is one that I started reading with my older children years ago with her delightful book The Saturdays, but I was reintroduced to her this past summer by my favorite Booktuber, Kate Howe, who also revived my interest in Maud Hart Lovelace. I adored Gone-Away Lake and can’t wait to read the sequel. The nature writing interwoven into this book won my heart.

And of course, one cannot talk about inspiration without mentioning my lovely and favorite Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery. The magic of nature, the spiritual edge hovering over life, and quirky characters are just a few reasons I love this writer SO much. Yes, her stories can be a bit formulaic, but oh, the delicious details she packs into them. The Anne series, The Blue Castle, Jane of Lantern Hill, and Emily Climbs are my favorites at the moment, maybe if all time? I was so blessed to travel to P.E.I. for my 15th anniversary with my husband to soak up some island inspiration.

Laura Ingalls Wilder also comes to mind. I’m currently rereading through her famous series with my younger children and Almanzo’s story in Farmer Boy is just as compelling as it was the first time I read it. The hard, brutal life that early Americans lived is so inspiring for our modern lives. The family dynamics are so intriguing to us. I still want to retrace the Ingall’s path out west which we did as a smaller family years ago. We loved especially wading in Plum Creek. 🥰🌿

Gothic-y-feeling, trickling waterfall near Maud Hart Lovelace’s home.

No list of inspiring women writer’s would be complete with another favorite, the English writer, Elizabeth Goudge. Her magical writing in legend and lore of place, her deep, interesting, nuanced characters, her pulling back the veil between spiritual and reality, make her SO beloved. She definitely is a bit more of a dense writer, you have to work hard at her stories, especially beginnings, but persevere, because oh my, you will be richly rewarded. I’ve read most of her backlist, currently my favorites are A City of Bells, Pilgrim’s Inn, Dean’s Watch, and maybe Gentian Hill is creeping up there, too. Her children’s story, Little White Horse is delightful, too.

Train station where Betsy (Maud) traveled to Milwaukee to see her friend!

And of course, Miss Jane Austen, is a must have for this list. Her books are such an interesting study of character and the inner works of Regency era English families. Romance takes over the films, but the books are something else entirely. My favorites are Persuasion, Pride & Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey. Although, I reread Mansfield Park this summer and so enjoyed it!

How about you? What authors highly inspire your work? Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list for me, Bradbury, Tolkien, Lewis, and others come to mind, but one of my favorite things to read and write is family and children ! And I think these ladies get it oh, so right! Have you done literary travel? Any inspiring places you recommend or you want to visit? I’ve also been to England, but would love to go back, especially to Oxford. Please chat with me in the comments! 📖♥️🖊📚

Favorite Reads {3rd Quarter 2022} 📚🍁📚

Shadows 🍂🍃🌾🌞

Hello Friends, here we are again, another chunk of our yearly pie gone and enjoyed. What a glorious summer! Here’s what I really enjoyed reading in July, August, and September. 🍃🍁🍂🌾🦌🌞🐈‍⬛🌚🌛🍄🪵🌲🔥

Glass 💙

July was a quieter reading month as we were so busy traveling, visiting, and enjoying the summer weather! My friend Kim suggested The Summer Book by Tove Jansson and I absolutely loved this gentle book about a grandmother and her granddaughter’s relationship with each other and the island they live on. It explores aging and youth, intimacy with nature, and many deeper themes. I still think about this book. Tove’s gentle pen & ink illustrations are superb. I also loved the coming of age story, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. This story was weirdly lovely and I loved Cassandra’s thoughts as a writer. The quirky cast of characters were so fascinating. All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner was historical fiction, a pleasant surprise from a Booktube recommendation. It follows a Michigan family dealing with Vietnam and race tensions in their small town. This was done gently and so well, I really want to try more from this author. I also dipped into a lot of various things for Jane Austen July, a readathon on Booktube/Bookstagram.

August brought gorgeous weather, scrambling to complete summer projects, plan our homeschool year, and read all the things. I read a lot this month, but there were a few gems that shone. I really loved the main girl protagonist in Jake Burk’s Greetings from Witness Protection. A foster teen who is asked to help a family hide. She is so brave and kind, even though she has to overcome a lot of challenges. So heartwarming! ♥️ I finished my reread of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen and I thoroughly enjoyed diving into the characters. I found the Crawford siblings, Mrs. Norris, and Sir & Lady Bertram to be such interesting character studies in what not to be. I absolutely adored the slightly creepy and introspective story of a little girl trying to dig her family out of grief and finding solace in nature and her books. The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange was so lovely!

September brought a definite shift to the air, and we slowly have been easing into our school books. Bouquet of sharpened pencils ✏️ anyone? I was so excited to see a You’ve Got Mail themed readalong over on Booktube, as that’s one of my absolute favorite autumn movies. I finally read All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot, a lovely memoir of a English veterinarian on the Yorkshire Dales. It was humorous, the characters so fascinating, and I loved Mr. Herriot’s gentle air of never ending patience. I also enjoyed Gerald Durrell’s memoir of his childhood in Corfu. My Family and Other Animals brought gorgeous writing and the wonders of the minutiae of the natural world. Durrell’s family situations were hilariously crazy and it was fascinating and disturbing to get a peek at English family living in a British colony. I was so curious about the play Lover’s Vows by Mrs. Inchbold which was so scandalous in Mansfield Park. I finally found it via kindle and it’s also on Project Gutenberg and I really enjoyed it. A young man comes back from the military to find his mother destitute and reveals a secret! I also read Family Shoes by Noel Streitfeild, my third this year by this author and she is fast becoming a favorite! It follows the Bell family, a poor vicar’s family and their hilarious adventures trying to wade through relatives and help their parents with money.

What did you absolutely love reading the last few months? 🍁📚🍁 I’d love to hear!

Joy Journal: September 9th


🍂🍃Dear Friends,

What is inspiring you or bringing you joy currently? Please join me in comments, in your journal, or on your blog!🍃🍂

I’m grateful today for…

🌿this quote🌿

“…Love watches, and sleeping slumbers not; weary, is not tired; straitened, is not constrained; frightened, is not disturbed; but, like a living flame and a burning torch, it bursts forth upwards and safely over-passes all.” ~Thomas A Kempis

||Psalms 143|| delicious words swirling around me|| first homeschool co-op of the new school year, seeing friends and “meeting” new ones in the musicians, artists, and writers we will be enjoying together||my baby sister’s 30th birthday ||daughter’s excitement over hairdo change and getting ears pierced||celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary||

||golden-tinged September🍂🍂🍂||son’s excitement about helping friend work in Colorado||beginning Christmas planning|| The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange – enchanting!||P.G. Wodehouse audio books, hilariously ridiculous || “Honey in the Rock” by Brooke Ligertwood|| “Find Me in the River” by Delirious||an Oswald Chamber quote texted to me from my sister||

||Jesse Ahmann’s instrumental cello on YouTube ||foggy pauses||cool, crisp early morning air, with a hint of autumn||laundry snapping on the line||hubby finding a praying mantis on lawn||hard but good conversations||duvet put back on bed, cool and soft||Amish woodsmoke on the wind||bits of red-tipped sumac peeking around bends in the road||Bull thistle fluff blowing in the air, sunset blazing through it||

||Middle-Earth mornings ||harvest moon shining on my face as I awake from sleep||new tea, cardamom cinnamon coming in the post||letter writing to friends in Canada||homeschool mom chat||autumn stationary perusing||journaling saving my sanity||listing gratitudes helping rightly order my heart||purr of Ghibli, our adore orange tabby kitten||piles of books to try and soak in||

How about you? Anything just really bringing you joy currently? Watching anything good? Reading? Creating? I’d love to hear. Happy End of Summer, friends. May you get the chance to soak in the remaining warmth and light of the year! 🍃🍂🍃 Peace & love, Amy 🍎🍏🌾🍂📚🍂🌿🍃📬🖤💌☕️🫖🌾🍎🍃🍏🍂♥️🖤🌿✍️📬💌🖤

Favorite Reads {2nd Quarter 2022} 📚🌿📚

Half a year of joys and sorrows. ♥️🌿♥️ How can it be? So blessed to have words to help us through, help us understand, and give us a gateway to journey through life with compassion. What were your favorite reads the past few months?

~☀️April💦~ I had a wonderful reading month with quite a few mysteries, including two Agatha Christies, but the books the stood out were my reread of Christy by Catherine Marshall and Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. Honorable mention was a reread of A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. Christy was such a masterful look at female friendships, our influence and impact as women, and what it means to have a selfless faith. Mr. Dickens didn’t disappoint with his gorgeous cast of characters in Our Mutual Friend, and I was so pleased to immerse myself in the world of an exploration on wealth and what true richness is. I read this with a local friend and some Booktube friends, which made the experience so much richer. I hope to watch the BBC adaptation later this year. These two books fulfill two of the prompts for the Back to Classics challenge. My reread of Mr. Vanauken’s memoir sharing his love story, coming to faith, Oxford, thoughts on beauty, and his friendship with C.S. Lewis was powerful and asked a lot of important questions.

Reginald Wilfer is a name with a rather grand sound…the existing R.Wilfer was a poor clerk. So poor a clerk, though having a limited salary and an unlimited family, that he had never yet attained the modest object of his ambition: which was, to wear a complete new suit of clothes, hat and boots included, at one time.

Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

🌸May🌿~ another WONDERFUL reading month, mostly thanks to Kate Howe’s Booktube, who’s cozy, comfort recommendations are spot on! I loved continuing to read through the Betsy Tacy Series by Maud Hart Lovelace , reading two more. I loved Betsy In Spite of Herself, as Betsy had to learn important lessons about being herself and not trying to be what she thought others wanted. I loved Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery, a short story collection that was heartwarming and thoughtful. I finished up David Copperfield by Dickens with our homeschool group and wow. So good! I loved Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright. The nature writing, details, and domesticity was just so uplifting. An adventurous tale set in Cornwall, In the Roar of the Sea, by S. Baring Gould, had some lovely characters and the descriptions of the Cornish coast were sublime. A nonfiction that I really enjoyed was The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Details by Paula Byrne. The most moving read and surprising was a children’s book, Skellig by David Almond. A haunting story of a young boy coming to terms with his move to a fixer upper, an ill infant sister, a new neighborhood friend, and a mysterious creature tying them all together.

“Fear is the original sin,” wrote John Foster. “Almost all the evil in the world has its origin in the fact that some one is afraid of something. It is a cold slimy serpent coiling about you. It is horrible to live with fear; and it is of all things degrading.”

L.M. Montgomery, The Blue Castle

🌤June🌺~ Another AMAZING reading month! My 1st quarter reading wasn’t the greatest, but the 2nd quarter made up for it! A favorite reread of the month was The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery, so inspiring and heartwarming. Second chances and asks the question if you only had a short time left, how would you live? I’ve reread this book countless times and it’s one of my very favorite Montgomery books. I read a wonderful dystopian, fantasy on my daughter’s recommendation, Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. I enjoyed the light hearted, deceptively deeper YA Pride & Prejudice retelling Pudge & Prejudice by A. J. Pittman. If you like coming of age, 80’s/90’s high school setting, and quirky characters, you will enjoy this! That House That is Our Own by O. Douglas was a lovely domestic, female friendship focus with light romance set between London and Scotland. I also adored the gorgeous writing in The Skylark’s War by Hilary McKay. It follows a widower and his two children in the English countryside leading up to WWI. McKay does a wonderful job thinking and speaking like a child would. My favorite of June, however, after all that goodness, was The Magic Summer by Noel Streitfeild. This strange, quirky story shares how a family of four children has to spend the summer in Ireland with their eccentric aunt. The courage and fortitude they learn is inspiring. Aunt Dymphna may be a bit TOO hands-off, but she doesn’t speak down to the children and trusts them. I really enjoyed this story. I’ve enjoyed two Streitfeild books now and I can’t wait to read more!

It was all over – the goodbys, the present-giving (except Aunt Dymphna’s present) – and everybody seemed sorry to see them go. “But I think this place is like sand,” said Penny. “You are there when you’re there, but when we’ve gone it’s like the sea going out – all the marks which were us won’t show any more.” Robin did not like that. “Not my marks won’t. They remember me forever.” Naomi agreed with him.

Noel Streitfeild, The Magic Summer

I excited for a whole new bunch of months filled with space for reading! What are you especially excited for? I’m looking forward to #janeaustenjuly on Booktube and elsewhere. A month long Read-along centered on all things Miss Austen related! 🌸🌺🌸 Happy Reading! Love, Amy

Joy Journal: June 18th {Happy Birthday to me!}

Bits of joy…

♥️Dear Friends,

What is inspiring you or bringing you joy currently? Please join me in comments, in your journal, or on your blog!

I’m loving right now…

|| thinking this article on Iris Murdock || Lesley Austin’s blog, YouTube, and email newsletter || purging books and filling up 5 main Little Free Libraries on my driving routes || Cherry-flavored water by Clear American from Walmart || golden-lit afternoons, summer sun filtering through Honey Locust leaves and shining through my kids hair as they play || adoring the photography and poetry at Leaf & Twig, even the blog name is enchanting || reading in sunshine and wind ☀️🌬🌥

Gills…spore print coming up!

|| cozy lifestyle vlogs, Hyonyeo, cakes and cats in South Korea || popcorn and oatmeal cookie picnics while reading Prince Caspian under the tree|| lawn lounging days, my Mother’s Day hammock from a few years ago is getting a lot of use || our first bonfire, slowly burning up last years Christmas tree, my 3yo calling the sparks ‘fire birds’ ♥️|| Mary Azarian’s woodcut picture books || ponytails and rooster tails || swimming for the first time this summer ||

Lake and Dickens days…

|| reading short story Watter Mitty and then watching older version with Danny Kaye together- so silly and hilarious! We also love the newer Ben Stiller version of it, too. || SundryWords bookmarks || the haunting, new-to-me author, David Almond’s book, Skellig || TWO recent mail surprises {including a Moomin journal 😍} from a Texan friend, Kim, THANK YOU! || Rae of Sunlight’s back Booktube vlogs || making a summer bucket list with the kids ||

Summer is so lovely…
Tornado watches…gorgeous, angry sky…we had to go into the basement, but rain and high wind were the extent of it’s bite. Do you like storms or wild weather?
Summer snoozes, dirty, darling, little boy feet…
A friend gifted me peonies two summers ago…first bloom!

What’s bringing you joy? I’m so very blessed 🥹 and I just love recording it! ♥️📚♥️ Grace and peace to you, Amy

Monday Ponderings {April 11th}

The trunk of the tree grew thick as a wall. Anatole could not even see where it curved around to the other side. He looked up into the branches. No light broke through at the top. The tree grew into great darkness.

“It’s best not to think about the top,” said the north wind. “It’s best just to start climbing.”

Sailing to Cythera – Nancy Willard

Favorite Reads {1st Quarter 2022} 📚🌿📚

What’s up, Doc? Can you tell what my children have watching lately? 🐰 I thought it would be easier and fun to just highlight my favorite reads this year in a quarterly fashion. 🌿📚🌿

…January favorites…

I had some BEAUTIFUL reads in January. Surprising reads, too, as Out of Silent Planet was a reread and was so much better this time around. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was a semi-autobiographical, heart wrenching look at a Soviet work-camp. The Scent of a Water was a favorite, so introspective and lovely. About an older woman starting afresh and the things she learns from the journals of her relative, her new neighbors, and nature. Wives and Daughters just a pure character dive into depth and insight, people to root for and love. Gaskell is SO accessible and lovely. You don’t have to work hard to be rewarded.

February brought the the lovely read of Emily of Deep Valley, a book that’s been on my TBR list for a long time and it didn’t disappoint. A coming of age story with so much to learn for this almost 42 yo! My reread of Martha’s Vineyard: Isle of Dreams by Susan Branch was just perfect. My favorite memoir from her! I really enjoyed finding the work of Austin Kleon, his encouragement on creativity really resonating with me.

A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered.

C.S. Lewis

March brought the beginning of a huge reading slump, but I did manage to enjoy the adult historical fiction, The Morning Gift, by Eva Ibbotson, a new to me author whom I’m enjoying. This was about an girl trapped in Nazi-occupied Vienna and it was different, well done, and I really enjoyed it.

Me attempting to break out of reading slump! 🤪 Do you do this? Try chapters of many different things to see if anything grabs you? 🌿📚🌿 Did you read anything lovely the first few months of 2022? I’d love to hear! How do you break reading slumps? What books are you anticipating soon? 😄🌿♥️May your books be long & delicious, your coffees hot, and your days sunshiny!

Love, Amy ♥️🌿

Monday Ponderings {January 31st}

Paper bag stars, sunsets, birds, and gingham. These are a few of my favorite January things…❄️♥️❄️♥️❄️

“I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes.

C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet

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. ~

Gratitude & Glories {December 2021 Reflecting and A Bit of a 2022 Look Ahead}

Happy New Year! We are back to {home} school and I loved adding a quote from The Quiet Season by Jerry Apps to my nature journal. The sunrises and sunsets have been so gorgeous, cutting through the cold, real warmth for the heart. I tried to capture the bit of beauty I caught as we drove in the gloaming, ice and snow framing the glorious sky painting.
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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

I’m Thinking… about anticipating all the meaningful moments ✨ to be gathered up into my jar of memories , all the wonderful books 📚 waiting to be enjoyed, and about how much I love the seasons ❄️💦🌿🍂, the different beauty each one brings.

I’m Thankful for… my fun reading journal setup this year, reading challenges, and writing ✍️ plans.

Reading Journal with Anne of Avonlea sticker!

One of My Favorite Things… Booktube! I’m in a couple of different reading challenges over there, at Oceana’s, Chantel’s, and I’m loving Emma’s account, sooo much, too! I’m also excited about this blogger’s challenge which I attempted a few times in past. You can also join me there on Booktube, but be forewarned I have a big learning curve with technology and editing ahead of me. 😂♥️😄

I’m Wearing… a lot of layers, slippers socks, and comfy core, as someone called it on Instagram!😂😃

Dressing for warmth and happiness!

I’m Watching… reading journal ideas and Booktube!

I’m Reading… SO many wonderful things I’ve started. I’m surprisingly enjoying my reread of Out of the Silent Planet by Lewis more than I thought I would.

Im Listening… to soundtracks and Salt of the Sound!

I’m Hoping… to continue our slower, deeper dive into our books we started back this week. It’s been sooo great, the conversations swirling around. It’s tempting to do allllll the things, but faithfully and steadily doing a few less things works better for us. I’m all about deeper dives this year.

I’m Learning…to pace myself, trust and rest with Jesus, and to be in Anticipation & Expectation of Him being with me this year! In fact, those are my words of 2022.

In the Homeschool Room… we are just getting back at it this week and it’s been exhausting, but oh, so good. Giving myself the permission to tweak as needed for all of our sanity and for rest. ❄️❄️❄️

Shared Quote…

“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.”

Lemony Snicket

Just some last parting shots of some of my reading journal set up pages! So fun and relaxing! How is your new year shaping up? May the Lord bless you and keep you! ♥️🌿♥️ Love from Hearth Ridge, Amy