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 {May 3Oth}

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatians

Joy Journal: May 26th, 2022

Tree frogs 🥰

What is inspiring you or bringing you joy currently? I hope to start a new series here. Please join me in comments, in your journal, or on your blog!

Right now, I’m loving…

|| the Betsy, Tacy, and Tib series by Maud Hart Lovelace || “With You” sung by Jimin and Ha SungWoon – I actually reimagine this as a love song to Jesus ♥️ || “The Peace of Wild Things” collection by Wendell Berry || barn swallow watching || Seattle’s Best decaf – thanks to Booktube friend, Tiffany for this recommendation || searching for new-to-me mystery series ||Kate Howe’s Booktube || a new to me Booktube, A Day of Small Things || finding 100 Days of Dante podcast || starting L. M. Montgomery’s Selected Journals Volume 3 ||

|| Harney & Sons Paris tea, fruity Earl Grey || first peony bud on bush friend gave me two summer’s ago || Salt & Sound music || Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright, anticipation for the sequel || bird and rabbit watching || rereading Little House series this summer with my younger children || endless cloud-filled skies || finding a math tutor for my son || Paul Johnson’s A History of the American People, who knew a tome like this could go down so smoothly? || contemplating reading some Moomins or another Tove Jansson book with friends || little boys in flannel button-downs || Schliech animal scenes perpetually in living room || Totoro socks from daughter || vignette series rattling around in brain || thinking back over favorite summer reads in years past, what are your favorites? || new fresh slate to start drawing upon for next homeschool year ||

Double-headed dandelion my daughter found 💛💛💛

What’s on your joy list?

Happy Friday, friends! Lots of love from Hearth Ridge, Amy 🌿♥️🌿

Monday Ponderings {May 23rd}

…the educator has to deal with a self-acting, self-developing being, and his business is to guide, and assist in, the production of the latent good in that being, the dissipation of the latent evil, the preparation of the child to take his place in the world at his best, with every capacity for good that is in him developed into a power.”

Charlotte Mason

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

Lenten Gratitude {3} 🌿💜🌿

Continuing my Lenten List of Gratitude…

21. reflection in my rich, delicious coffee and cream of the light above, the ripple and movement of it catching my eye in the early morning quiet

22. marking up seed catalog with stickies, my 12 yo and I, the hope of green growing things to come, something to look forward to and tend outside of ourselves

23. the pleasure of a 2 yo over thrifted shoes, velcro and camo cuteness for $3

24. this song

25. evening and morning of little nothings that are something with husband to reset – peanuts, journaling, talking by the river, seeing a duck break through the ice, weasel bounding across, Sandhills bugling, crows, and the waddle of returned Canada geese, chicken avocado salad, and long meandering drives through farm country

26. juicy pears

27. this unique show I found on YouTube- yes, low budget, predictable, but heartwarming. Based on a true story!

28. a church friend asking us over for lunch and her lovely cat Smokey climbing in my lap, purring and so affectionate

29. coffee catch-ups lately with lovely women

30. potty “training” to help me learn yet again to move at the pace of a small child, so sobering, infuriating, and endearing at the same time

What gifts have caught your eye lately? I’d love to hear! 🌿💜🌿 Lots of love, Amy

Lenten Gratitude {2} 🌿♥️🌿

Continuing my Lenten List of Gratitude ~

11. Mr. Kleon’s work has been opening my mind to possibly lately. And that’s a good thing.

12. Thinking on this quote I read with my 17 yo the other day, “A picture or poem, or the story of a noble deed, ‘finds’ us, we say. We, too, think that thought or live in that action, and, immediately, we are elevated and sustained. This is the sympathy we owe to our fellows, near and far off. If we have anything good to give, let us give it, knowing with certainty that they will respond. If we fail to give this Sympathy, if we regard the people about us as thinly small, unworthy thoughts, doing mean, unworthy actions, and incapable of better things, we reap our reward. We are really, though we are not aware it, giving Sympathy to all that is base in others, and thus strengthening and increasing their baseness: at the same time we are shutting ourselves into habits of hard and narrow thinking and living.” ~ Charlotte Mason, Ourselves

12. Thinking about creativity and how sometimes it’s hard to grasp that elusive ‘thing’ that’s haunting you and waiting to be born. How birth is beautiful and miraculous, yet it’s earthy, natural, and an everyday occurrence all over the world. These lyrics speak to that and here’s the music video which has stunning imagery about this tension. {click CC button, top right corner of video for English subtitles}

13. The flames, smell, colors, warmth, ritual of filling our indoor woodburner. I’ve been finding in the midst of the hard work of it and constantness of it, a beauty. Hmmm, this sounds like writing practice. 😬😩😂

14. Margin. Modern life is a snowball. I’m thankful when I remember to stop it and live counterculture for a bit. Run counterclockwise, Amy. One part of this can’t really change though. Relationships. Those you need to keep your toe dipped into.

15. This zany, high energy podcast. An encouraging online friend, Adrienne, recommended me to this resource!

16. Starting enjoying a new Shakespeare play, composer, and especially enjoying this unique artist with my children. So thankful for the moms in my homeschool group for sharing these riches.

17. For this this poem and animation. So peaceful!

18. For photography- snippets of light for dispelling darkness

19. Warmth: fires, slippers, hot showers, hot tea, steamy coffee, and comfy thrifted purple Scotland sweatshirts.

20. Changes of perspective to help me get outside of myself. For coming back to my mountain to climb with newness and freshness, or at least a deep breath. ♥️🌿

What’s fueling you? 🌿♥️🌿 Lots of love from the Ridge, Amy 💜🌿💜

Lenten Gratitude {1} 🌿♥️🌿

Florence Bird Sculpture – Aunt Marianne Buche, Healer

Even though my church tradition doesn’t include the observance of Lent, I find the church seasons helpful in my faith walk. I hope to use Lent as a time of conscious gratitude, close attention, and a listening heart and spirit. ♥️

1. Statues and their stories whispering in the sunlight

2. Used, magical bookshop filled with 40,000 dreams

3. 2,000 year old caves, drip-drips echoing, concentric circles of time, red ochre art of the past, both mysterious and timeless

4. Brokenness bringing the riot of beauty in the everyday out anew and afresh

5. February’s Peace Poem project bringing so much more to me than what I gave…gifts do that often, don’t they?

6. Meditating on these words from Wendell Berry, “…But I aspire downward. Flyers embrace the air, and I’m a man who needs something to hug. All my dawns cross the horizon and rise, from underfoot. What I stand for is what I stand on.”

7. Intricacies of nature, mind boggling

8. A little boy so concerned about his thumbs finding their way in his leather mittens

9. Beauty found in icy disappointment

10. Thinking on and thankful for this: “ When people speak of a beautiful sunset, do they hurriedly riffle through a book of photographs of sunsets or go in search of a sunset? No, you speak about the sunset by drawing on the many sunsets inside you…” Mr. Miyazaki goes on with more of this gorgeous thought in his book, Starting Point

May your Lenten journey or posture of prayerfulness be one of fruitfulness 🌿🌿🌿

Lots of love, Amy ♥️