Gratitude & Glories {September 2021} Happy Autumn ~

I am wholly willing to be here between the bright silent thousands of stars and the life of the grass pouring out of the ground. ~from “On the Hill Late at Night” by Wendell Berry

Warmest and brightest autumn greetings, dear hearts ~

The colors of autumn are heart-achingly beautiful here and I can’t help but snuggle down into them and my current favorite poetry collection, The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry. This book and the Scriptures of The Holy Bible have been such a comfort and guiding light to me this past month. A month of homeschooling is now finished and I’m able to know what needs tweaking a little.

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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Looking out my Window…

I sink into goldenness…corn, beans, and other crops waiting to be harvested and the edges of leaves & grasses, deliciously dipped in color. The green is still here, but now more as a frame for the glorious autumnal painted splendor. Just unbelievably beautiful this time of year here in the northern Midwest US.

Continuing with my autumn comfort-type reads sharing! Any type of seasonal memoir is SO wonderful this time of year. I pulled a few off my shelves here!

I’m Thinking… about a lot, but especially the books The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi (honestly, a huge surprise to me!) and Boundaries for Your Soul by Cook & Miller. Both are really helping me work through guilt/anxiety and also figure out some things about myself in a healthier way.

I’m Thankful for… my family pitching in a lot lately as I’ve battled head colds etc this past month. I’ve recently realized how thankful I am for my 2 yo, as he’s teaching me so much, brings so much joy, and is keeping me on my knees. Nature’s bounty and ironically, I’m so thankful for my gratitude journal to remind me of how much good there is even in the darkest days.

HP can be such a comfort read if you enjoy the hero journey story with intriguing characters//The Enchanted April is so subtle, but a wonderful read about four women on a journey figuratively and literally//Over Sea, Under Stone is a Welsh-mythology type good & evil tale that I really enjoy//

One of My Favorite Things… there’s never just ONE! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Vanilla Almond tea, my red & black checked flannel, my thrifted jean jacket, and our public library. Original Irish Spring soap takes me back to my grandma’s bathroom instantly and lately, I’ve loved just being surrounded by its lovely scent.

I’m Wearing... my sweater stash is slowly resurrecting albeit we had a warm spell this last week. It’s been so nice to throw on jeans, a tshirt, and grab a cardigan. I’m bringing out my favorite 3/4 length sleeve sweater that I got last year thrifting, too. It’s blue and pink strip and I love it. So nice to meet old friends again, isn’t it?

Jane of Lantern Hill has such a special place in my heart ~ I read it after the birth of my 5th child and it meant the world to me in ways I can’t explain, in fact, my handle on IG is a nod to this book…Amy of Hearth Ridge//The Magic Apple Tree is another of those seasonal comfort books//The Little White Horse by Goudge is just so lovely and strange in a magical way, it’s time for a reread soon for me//

I’m Creating.. not much currently, a few nature journal entries, penpal letters, and we started our terms handcraft of Faux Stained Glass.

I’m WatchingVictober Booktubers, Hallmark Mysteries -when I can find them on youtube-specifically Hannah Swenson, and Hungarian Rhapsodies #2 performances.

Oh my heart ~ I adore The Blue Castle, asks such a good question, how would you live if you had a short time to left?// The Hearth & Home book is a traditional country cookbook, but the last half is my favorite, thoughts on life and what’s truly important. A great book to pull out as the year wanes//Magician’s Nephew is my favorite of Lewis’ Narnia books and I found this unique cover last summer//

I’m Reading… the sci-fi YA Incarceron and two memoirs I’m really enjoying currently are Pastoral Song: A Farmer’s Journey by James rebanks and The Marches: A Borderland Journey Between England and Scotland by Rory Stewart. I’m slowly rereading Fellowship of the Ring, too, and boy, was it time. We all need a little J.R.R.T!

I’m Listeningthis song popped on my Spotify and it’s not that I love it or anything, but boy, it brought me back to highschool. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been gravitating to old favorite instrumental tracks on youtube: Scottish, Moonlight on Sea, and Wind.

Seasons of a Mother’s Heart is my favorite of Mrs. Clarkson’s books, as it rescued me as a young mother//The Lighted Heart -memoir about Elizabeth Yates and her husband’s gradual blindness – so inspiring and heart-wrenching//The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith – a hard hitting book on writing from life, I drag this out occasionally for wonderful inspiration//

I’m Hoping… go on a belated anniversary trip with my husband to an art museum, nature trails, and a flea market for Christmas gift shopping.

In the Garden… it’s pretty much morning glories rioting and choking everything, saggy sunflower offerings for the birdie friends, and a few happy zinnias. We so enjoyed the last of the watermelons and I need to clean things out.

Karen Andreola’s lovely stories about a family’s life and homeschool adventures are just the perfect heart-warming type reads for autumn//Spanning Time is another from Elizabeth Yates that I like to dip into//

I’m Learning …to be gentle with the parts of myself I struggle with especially fear/anxiety/guilt. Acknowledging them, but not letting them overwhelm me. Bringing them to Jesus and being ok that they are there, yet not whipping myself over the head with feelings of failure because I can’t rid myself of them completely.

In the Kitchen … we made applesauce and bread now that it’s cooling down a bit. Still doing a lot of stir fries with brown rice, veggies, and a bit of meat. We were able to buy a lot of inexpensive cheese from a bulk Amish store and so we’ve been doing a lot of homemade pizza, too.

To be honest, Sarah Ban Breathnach’s books stray VERY far from my faith beliefs, but I find quotes and a few lovely tidbits in them. I found these inexpensively while thrifting and enjoy the way they are laid our seasonally by months or days//This Beautiful Truth by Sarah Clarkson is one of my favorite books of this year, how our God is ALL good and He’s here WITH us in the darkness and suffering of the world.//

In the Homeschool Room… I’m not going to lie. It’s been exhausting and intense, BUT in a good way. We’ve been getting outdoors on nature walks a lot (in fact, I have a case of poison ivy to prove it! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ), enjoying Liszt music, Vachel Lindsay’s unique, but surprisingly layered poetry, David Copperfield, so, so many interesting discussions about all the books, singing “This Land is Your Land”, and enjoying Rembrandt’s work. It’s an amazing privilege to get to do this life with my children.

Shared Quote…

What is love demanding of me right now? That is all that matters.

Bishop Robert Barron via Instagram

That’s all folks! Thanks for reading, ‘may the stars shine upon the end of your road’ {from Gildor, in Fellowship of the Ring} as you travel through glorious October. โค Love, Amy

Monday Ponderings ~ on an Illuminated Conscience {September 20th}

Continuing to share favorite comfort reads โค //Susan Branch’s A Fine Romance is just swooooony. A memoir/art/photo journey of her trip to England//Another visit to Stillmeadow through Glady Taber’s eyes//and one of the Anne series, Anne of Ingleside, we get a glimpse of Anne as a mother//

…if we mean to live in the wide world of thought and action, our first care must be to get, by slow degrees, the power of forming just opinions. How are we to get such power? In the first place, we must observe and think for ourselves, not ‘cute’ and clever thoughts about our neighbours’ doings, discovering a low motive here, a sharp practice there: persons who allow themselves in this habit of mind lose the power of interpreting life by the aid of an illuminated conscience. But, if we observe with gentle, large, and humble thoughts, we shall find much to instruct and improve us in the life of every family. We shall see good in the action of statesmen, at home and abroad; wisdom in the attitudes of nations. But most of us have little chance of seeing men and things on a wide scale, and our way to an instructed conscience is to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. We must read novels, history, poetry, and whatever falls under the head of literature, not for our own ‘culture.’ Some of us begin to dislike the word ‘culture,’ and the idea of a ‘cultivated’ person; any effort which has self as an end is poor and narrow. But there is a better reason for an intimacy with literature as extensive and profound as we can secure. Herein we shall find the reflections of wise men upon the art of living, whether put in the way of record, fable, or precept, and this is the chief art for us all to attain.

Charlotte Mason, Volume 4, p. 70 {emphasis mine}
Winter Cottage is a heart-warming story set during The Great Depression era in Wisconsin//The Midnight Folk is a creepy good/evil tale in which a young boy has an scary adventures to help others – perfect autumn read//Anne’s House of Dreams is more deliciousness from Montgomery about Anne & Gilbert’s early life//

May you have a lovely coffee and time to spill your heart soon. Wishing you all the best this Monday~ Amy

Gratitude & Glories {August 2021} Ramblings & Reflections

{100 Days of Gratitude Journaling} โค I’m so enjoying this meditative practice.
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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Hello Lovely Friends,

Warmest Greetings to September ~I’ve been slowly attempting to just stop with the {home} school prep. At some point, you have to just run with it and tweak as you go, right? I haven’t been reading as much, in sort of a period where I’m just dipping in and out of things and dreaming a bit. Honestly, I’m approaching this year of {home} school with a healthy dose of respect and finding myself on shaky knees of prayer. Summer loveliness hasn’t quite faded away yet, but my heart is turning slowly towards the anticipation of the richness of autumn and all it brings. I’ve been thinking and meditating much on the turning of the seasons, literally, but also more so figuratively. It’s got me pulling books off my shelves that lend to that lingering feeling of change in the air. So many books evoke feelings of excitement and delight as one burrows in or bursts out depending on our seasons or circumstances. I thought it would be fun to intersperse and share some favorites from my home library throughout this post and for the next while as whim and spirit moves.

Gladys Taber’s seasonal memoirs always evoke coziness – it’s forever nice to visit Stillmeadow // Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Goudge is like a lovely, worn quilt – it’s the 2nd in a trilogy, but I read it by-its-lonesome all the time//Landmarks is a word lovers paradise and MacFarlane is so haunting and descriptive//

Looking out my window...has got me swooning with soft, dreamy purple sun rises and the rich, gold-drenched sunsets. We’ve had some scorching days and some severe thunderstorms, but for the most part, WONDER-filled weather.

I’m thinking…about habits and the idea that how you spend your days is how you spend your life, Annie Dilliard, thankyouverymuch. See below for full quote.

Wind in the Willows ~ does one have to say anything?//Mitten Strings for God by Katrina Kenison ~ a beautiful memoir for those with little children//Rainbow Valley, sigh. Almost anything by L.M. Montgomery has that magical seasonal inside & out journey feel to it. This one is the adventures of Gil and Anne’s six young children//

I’m thankful for… my new art & idea journal and for all my books and for Jesus loving me at my lowest, my family bearing with me, for lovely writing ideas swirling and spinning, themes and threads, and how life-giving journaling has been for me, as of late. My trip to Minnesota to meet up with my health support ladies for prayer and relaxation was a God-send.

One of my favorite things… has been listening to Studio Ghibli instrumental soundtracks – you can find them everywhere, on Youtube, Spotify…just so inspiring, cheerful, and dreamy. We’ve been working on a couple puzzles recently and just got a new one ~ Japanese Tea Garden~ {I can’t find it on Amazon anymore?} that looks lovely to tie into our upcoming Japan focus for geography and some history. I’ve been loving short walks w/my two little guys in the afternoon or picking bouquets together.

Ray Bradbury is one of my favorite authors ~ definitely on the weird side, but these two books, wow. Something Wicked This Way Comes was my 2020 pick for Favorite Fiction of the Year and Dandelion Wine has just a glorious coming of age/seasons of life vibe to it.//At the Back of the North Wind, I actually haven’t finished yet, but I still think about it a couple years after reading a good portion of it~ haunting and mysterious//Streams in the Desert by L.B.Cowman is a devotional that flows through my life at many different points and I love the memories and beauty of it//

I am wearing… casual has been my mainstay for the last couple of weeks, as it has been just a touch cooler – jean, black, or olive green pants, took a break from my beloved skirts. T-shirts with a cardigan or a button-down with my pearl or sand dollar earrings from the Gulf of Mexico have been my go-tos. I’ve been wearing my brown sandals nonstop. I got myself a little back to {home}school gift that I can’t wait to wear! EEEK! ๐Ÿ™‚ I mean it had my name on it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I am creating…my art/idea journal, school plans, and slowly prepping my offerings for our Charlotte Mason community group, gathering handicraft supplies, and chemistry experiment stuff. Whew. I also have a sweet little cross stitch project I began on my trip with my friends that I’m super excited to work on. I have a short children’s story I’m working on for my online writing group next week, poetry knocking at the door of my brain, wanting OUT, and lots of words/themes/visions/ideas to put to pen.

My little reading/writing spot in my room ~ makes me happy//

I am watching…short art journal videos on Youtube, booktubers, and I’ve watched the movie Totoro a few times with my children. It’s so peaceful.

I am reading…as I said before, I’m not really reading anything super specific, more just dipping my toes into lots of things. I’m most excited about the nonfiction, Heaven’s Ditch by Jack Kelly, Toilers of the Sea (possibly?! it’s BIG) by Victor Hugo (honestly, I most drawn to this book because of the delightful woodcut art), and I’m going to keep choosing a few favorite light reads off my shelves for comfort as we begin school. Maybe Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge? or more Wendell Berry poetry which has been SO lifegiving lately. I did recently finish Agatha Christie’s The Secret of the Chimneys and it was a five-star read for me! So humorous and mysterious. Sigh.

Miss Read – English village schoolteacher, sigh//essays by the poet Jane Kenyon, fabulous and thought-provoking//and any of Leif Enger’s three novels I just want to sink into//

I’m listening... as I already mentioned Studio Ghibli and also Salt of the Sound.

I am hoping…to canoe down a local stretch of river soon with my family and also write more about journaling.

Susan Cooper’s spooky series loosely inspired by Welsh-mythology is a favorite reread//another Katrina Kenison, we are not of the same faith tradition, but I still walk away with so many lovely things from her writings//A City of Bells, probably my favorite Elizabeth Goudge, injured soldier visits his grandfather’s little town and takes over an empty bookshop with secrets ~ deliciously good//

In the garden...we’ve pulled out some sunflowers, tomatoes, zinnias, and our watermelons are coming along any day now ~grapes and apples, too.

I am learning…that I go ALOT slower these days~ I can’t read, do, or be as fast as I used to, and you know what, that’s ok. I need to eat well, nap when I can, and get outside. But I also have to work faithfully at my TO-DO list, at times it’s the best thing for me, meaningful work.

Coffee, sunlight, and plants…

In the kitchen… we’ve been making a lot of veggie, meat, and brown rice concoctions of sorts ~ I added black beans to my browned beef, too, the other night to make it stretch and it was delish.

In the homeschool room… eeek. It’s coming, my friends. Easing in next week. I need to stop by the thrift store this weekend to let the children pick out old frames for our handicraft project and we are slowly purging the homeschool/game/craft closet. It’s positively frightening…the closet, that is. Not school starting. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Shared Quote:

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and that one is what we are doing.

Annie Dillard

Some moments from my day {month}...

My friends and I in Winona, Minnesota ~ we went to an amazing art museum, prayed & cooked together, got out in nature, and talked books to our heart’s content. It was a soul-balm.

What are some books that evoke the change of seasons, literally or figuratively for you? How are you doing? Excited for autumn or holding on just a wee bit longer to summer? ๐Ÿ™‚

It was so nice to chat. Until next time, lots of love ~ Amy

๏ปฟ

Gratitude & Glories: {April & May}

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The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Hello dear friends! I certainly had no idea I’d take TWO months off from this little corner. Having friends over, house guests, a family wedding, graduating my FIRST baby *waaa!, and just trying to finish out our homeschool year strong lent for quiet on the blog front. I’m back, though, and inspired by my friend, Kim, and just refreshed from the first month or so of my summer Instagram break, I feel up to the challenge to share here a bit more. Here is a post to record and share what we’ve been up to this spring!

For April/May 2021

Looking out my window… despite one fluke night of freezing temperatures (where my procrastination on the garden came in handy…*wink,wink*), our weather has been GLORIOUS. Low humidity, 70’s & 80’s, sunshine, blue & white fluffy skies, and enough rain for a brilliant green carpet. Wisconsin is a delightful state, minus February. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I am thinking…ย about a lovely generous gift from an online friend. I was able to attend Art History classes and discussions via Zoom the last four weeks. We finished last night and I really enjoyed them! Check out Rachel Magdalen Drennen’s site here to enjoy her beautiful work and look at her upcoming classes.

I am thankful…ย for the anticipation each night as I lay my head on my pillow for my morning prayer time with coffee, Bible, journal, and books.

One of my favorite things… our “teepee” trellis that we are attempting this year. My oldest son and I made it out of tree branches, beans, morning glories, and cucumber plants. Hopefully, the plants will grow up the strings and branches to create a fun canopy for my children to play in! ๐Ÿ™‚ I keep you updated on it’s progress.

I am wearing… I’ve been wearing gardening clothing for this past week, but I’m so excited to wear my a new black & white striped skirt and soft black t-shirt I picked up thrifting as well as my other skirts (I’m not much of a shorts gal). Also my new copper colored Carhartt overalls which I used some gift money to finally get. I just roll up the bottoms and wear with a fun shirt, different shoes, and earrings.

I am creating…ย I’ve been writing some cards for pen pals, writing faithfully in my gratitude/prayer journal, and I started a new project inspired by Celeste from Joyous Lessons and The CMEC. I was delighted in April to get away with some other Charlotte Mason moms and I got to listen to some of these sessions. Anyway, I was so inspired, I’ve started a combo journal for pre-reading my older children’s school books this summer, quotes, and nature sketches. I’ve already begun and I’m loving it SO much. It makes me a wee bit nervous to see how much reading I’ve set up for myself, but I really think it will help narrations and discussions in the autumn when school starts up. I may share some photos of this journal. I didn’t write ANYTHING on my fiction project in May. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I did get some words down in April, but my goal would be to hit 20,000 words by the end of June. Hold me to it, would you? ๐Ÿ˜‰

I am watching…some Youtube random things. I hope to watch the new Little Women movie soon with my daughters. Have you seen it? Is it good? Anything fantastic you’ve watched recently? I honestly don’t watch a ton, because my gigantic bookstacks call me so loudly!

I am reading… I read a lot in April and May, to my kids and for myself! We loved reading Petook together for Easter and a favorite around Mother’s Day is My Mother is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World. The Enola Holmes Series was a fun Middle Grade read for me, albeit a letter in the last book irritated me so much! HA! I reread Emily Climbs and Jane of Lantern Hill by dear L.M. Montgomery and sigh. LOVE. My favorite non-fiction reads were Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson, and Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now by Greg Boyd. All three are full of lovely ideas and encouragement! I started a Middle Grade Harry Potter-ish series called Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo. So far, the second book has been my favorite! Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer is a very lovely, creative fantasy for my fellow speculative fiction readers. In the Holy Bible, I’ve worked through the end of Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Luke, John, and now into Acts, too. I’m attempting a Charles Dickens Project and I’m hoping to read all 15 of his novels. I’ve only read Bleak House as A Christmas Carol is considered a novella. No time frame, just to keep up constantly till I’m finished. So far I’m reading Great Expectations with my oldest two over the summer, slowly Martin Chuzzlewit, and I have to read David Copperfield for our Charlotte Mason Highschool Literature class I’m facilitating this autumn.

I am listening to… not much! I do listen to BTS kpop HA! when doing dishes occasionally and I’ve loved this song lately to meditate on.

I am hoping…to write more this month. I’m planning weekly word count goals. Just to keep moving forward. I have two writing friends who I check in with on Voxer and I have a monthly Zoom writing group to help. I have quite a few things to do for my daughter’s graduation party in August, so need to keep moving on those plans. I was so inspired by this post by Kourtney here and am thinking of incorporating this with my writing and journaling.

In the garden…ย hoping to go to an Amish greenhouse soon to round out some things I’d like to add. I have some seeds to get in the ground, too. I’m definitely moving slow getting things in, but am excited! ๐Ÿ™‚

I am learning…ย to rest when I need too and not to hide or binge on things when I’m feeling misunderstood, exhausted, or overwhelmed. I tend to overeat, over consume media, or spend money INSTEAD of dealing with things or just getting sleep. I really need to grow in this area.

Wood Anemone – early spring nature adventures!

In the homeschool room…ย we’ve officially closed the books on 2020/2021 Willow Tree Academy! WOOHOO! My first graduate, too! Overall, it was a great year. I’m starting planning already for next because I’m more realistic right after we’ve finished. We have two read alouds to finish this summer and we will be continuing The Chronicles of Narnia reread.

Shared Quote

๏ปฟ

This is the road of self-indulgence, and whenever we have to justify anything we do to ourselves by saying, ‘There’s no harm in it,’ we may be pretty sure we are on the downward grade.

Charlotte Mason, Volume 6, Book 1, p. 194

Some moments from my day {month}...

We made maple syrup this year for the first time!
My oldest son worked so hard! It was a long process, but a lot of fun.

Monday Ponderings {March 15th}

โ€œHow good and how glad it is to be grateful! The joy is not merely that we have received a favour or a little kindness which speaks of goodwill and love, but that a beautiful thing has come out of some other personโ€™s beautiful heart for us; and joy in that otherโ€™s beauty of character gives more delight than any gain or pleasure which can come to us from favors.โ€

~Charlotte Mason, Volume 4, pg. 108

Something Old, Something New… {Saturday, February 27th}

Illustration by Pauline Banes

Something Old ~ Pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee and listen to this delicious, fascinating, and ridiculous interview by one of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury. Grab a pencil and paper because his ideas on creativity and life are so interesting to think about.

Something New ~ I received this lovely mug from my husband for Valentine’s Day{read: I picked it out and told him ๐Ÿ˜‰ that I wanted it} and it’s making me smile. A bit of a backstory with it. My husband used to work in a field where he had the title of Captain and we happen to have seven children. And of course, I love me some Maria and Captain von Trapp. Perfection! I *adore* many of the items in the A Fine Quotation Etsy Shop, so I highly recommend.

Something Borrowed ~ I am still thinking on and reeling from some beautiful thoughts in this book I borrowed from a friend. I highly recommend it. It really gets you thinking on community in ANY sphere of life, but especially creative endeavors.

Something Blue ~

The moon has been glorious that past few days and this blue, purple sky is giving me all the feels. I think I will listen to Miles a bit today!

And a Sixpence in Her Shoe ~

A golden, faith tidbit for considering as you walk into your weekend:

“Life is a leaf of paper white

Where on each one of us may write

His word or two, and

then comes the night.”

~James Russell Lowell

~Favorite Reads of 2020 and Reading Ideas for 2021 ~

New year, new books ~ fresh, white dusting of pages. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

~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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ }

~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 Miles:ย Poems of Fantasy, Faith, & Funย 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 Levinโ€™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 Tolstoyโ€™s writing and the picture he painted especially of the Russian countryside and domestic beauty. Much of the Russian history, Iโ€™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? ๐Ÿ™‚

A Bit ‘O Joy: Two Poetry Books for your Kind Consideration

What is bringing you joy currently? There are so many things that ring joy to me if I take the time to peel back the layers and peer in the cracks. One joy that has filled me consistently over my adult years has been poetry. Today, I’d like to highlight two poetry books that I’ve really enjoyed.

Across the Miles: Poems of Fantasy, Faith, & Fun by Annie Douglass Lima – I just finished this delightful and sweet collection of poems this week. Annie graciously gifted me the ebook of this lovely traditional rhyming poetry which brings to mind memories of growing up, imagination, the journey of Christian faith, and adds a delicious soaking in her glorious nature poems. I found myself especially drawn to her nature descriptions and delighted in the immersive feelings she gave me in the poems like “Grand”, bringing me back to a trip I took with my husband and new baby to the Grand Canyon, “God’s Metronome”, taking me to the edge of the ocean, and the haunting, lovely “The Bloodstained Moon.” I loved her deep honesty in “Ashes”, in which she shares of how she says goodbye to someone through memories put to flame. I shared a lovely Christmas themed poem, “Two Kings” with my children this week as part of our Advent readings. There are so many others I really enjoyed, “Song of the Star”, “In the Forest”, and “The Campfire” were lovely. My favorite probably though were her lovely ones on writing and especially “Poetry Graveyard.” Where does our writing go when it just dies? Annie made this collection very accessible with her poems grouped topically and also with little descriptions of her inspiration for a poem or defining an obscure poetry form. I found that extremely helpful. I plan on using these lovely poems with my children in our home school. Check out the link to this book and make a connection with Annie below!

NEW poetry book:ย Across the Miles

Connect with Annie: http://anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com/

In the Salt Marsh by Nancy Willard – Ever since I was introduced to Willard through her Anatole stories I was intrigued. My children and I have since read and loved many of her picture books and this was my first of her many poetry collections. Through modern verse, Willard’s metaphors and beauty are subtle and strange at first and she brings things to life through her use of specifics with a twist. However, if you sit a bit with her pieces you began to see and feel truly how many layers you cut sink your heart into. She is AMAZING at looking at the most simple commonplace things in a new way. I highly recommend checking into this short volume and I can’t wait to read more of hers.

How faithfully grass holds the shape of the sea it loves…

That line is from her title poem and it just thrills me…

Have you read anything by Annie Douglass Lima or Nancy Willard? These books would make lovely Christmas gifts! Any poets that you have been loving lately? What is bring you a bit of joy?

October Reads

Happy Advent Eve, my friends ~ here I am, yet again, behind on my reading log, but that’s ok. It’s real life we live behind the screens, is it not? And we all float through different seasons on the river of living, ebbing and flowing. I do so love reading other’s reading, though, so here I go. ๐Ÿ™‚

October finishes:

Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon (*****) – I don’t remember who recommended this to me, but wow. ๐Ÿ˜ณโค The characters were amazing in this historical fiction of a family’s travels out to the American west in a covered wagon. The mother’s character, Winifred May, was my favorite and her relationship with her daughter, Naomi, was so inspiring! May I be a true confidant to my daughters as she was to Naomi. The five May boys, Warren, Wyatt, Web, Will, and dear little Wolfe really intrigued me and I cared about them. Maybe because I have four boys? The integrity and the depth of John Lowry, Washakie, and Lost Woman was inspiring. This book does have adult sexual themes, violence, and language, just FYI, but the characters live in it’s pages. I really loved this one!

Boggart by Susan Cooper (***) – A Canadian family of four inherits a Scottish castle and inadvertently brings back the resident, mischievous boggart in an antique desk! The boggart wreaks havoc in Toronto and the children must find a way to get the boggart back to his castle. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ A very sweet Middle Grade read I grabbed while thrifting. I really love Susan Cooper’s style of writing.

Hidden Current by Sharon Hinck (***) – I won this on a giveaway on Instagram! Beautiful cover! This is a Christian allegorical fantasy set on a floating world, Meriel. All is not as it seems for young Calara as she attempts to use her dance magic to make her way to the top of the all important, prestigious girl’s Order. The fate of their island world is in these top dancer’s hands, in more ways than one. Calara wants to be apart of the elite more than anything until something happens to shake her to the core. My favorite character was the mentor-like servant, Ginerva. This was fast-paced, clean, unique magic system story and my daughter and I enjoyed it. I just noticed that this won the Christy Award for this year, which is a high honor and it is the first in a trilogy.

One of Ours by Willa Cather (5+ stars) – Cather won the Pulitzer for One of Ours in 1923 and I can see why. This follows the story of an idealistic Nebraskan boy, Claude Wheeler, as he grows up under the critical, stubborn eye of his father and the quiet, timid, introspective ways of his mother on their farm. He searches for meaning and value in the mundane path set before him by others. He struggles with his depth of feelings and deep desires to have something worth while to live for. And along comes WWI…while the horrors of war become very real to Claude and all the American farm boys sent overseas, Claude finds purpose and meaning in the trenches of France. This is a very, very slow read, but wow. Cather’s deep introspection of life through Claude, his mother, and Mahailey, their beloved cook. Her thoughts on life, meaning, and the tension between desires and brute reality are deeply moving and thought-provoking. Cather writes beautifully intertwined nature scenes with her stories. This one may deserve a second read and a multitude of quotes copied out. โค

What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon (***) – Because I loved Where the Lost Wander so much, I decided to try another Harmon title. This was a beautifully written time-travel novel set in the 1920’s of Ireland and their fight for independence. Harmon did a fantastic job getting me intrigued and inspired by a time period and history I know nothing about. Anne Gallagher travels to her grandfather’s favorite place in Ireland to spread his ashes and deal with her grief of his passing. Little does she know how much he hid from her and the adventure she is in for! Her grandfather, Eoin, was my favorite character in this story, in more way the one, and I loved the use of journal entries in this story, as I’m an avid journaler. The only downside to this was the excessive sexual situations which just aren’t my cup of tea. Otherwise, I really, really enjoyed this historical fantasy-ish fiction. I think I will read more of Harmon’s backlist, because these two were so good.

Mortal Sight by Sandra Fernadez Rhodes (***) – A fast-paced dystopian YA novel with intriguing links to John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Cera Marlowe is a 17 yo with disturbing dreams and she has constantly moved all of her life. Her mother is hiding something from her and when she finds out the horror that is connected to these dreams, she feels even more alone. She needs to find answers quickly! I found the Milton connection fascinating and the fantasy powers intriguing. I’m not a huge fan of teenage angst and drama and this did flirt with that a bit, which I shouldn’t be surprised reading a YA book. ๐Ÿ˜‰ However, this was clean, action-filled, and intense, so I enjoyed it for the most part. It’s part of a duology with the second set to come out next spring, I believe.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (5+) – A reread of my favorite of Tolkien’s books. Sigh. Just so nice to visit with Bilbo and Gandalf again.

Tree & Leaf by J.R.R Tolkien (5+) – This is a collection of lovely essays and short stories and poems. I love his thoughts in “On Fairy Stories” and this “There was no sense of rush. He was quieter inside now, and at resting-time he could really rest.” – JRR Tolkien ๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒฟ from “Leaf by Niggle”. I was in a Tolkien mood this autumn. โค

Love Not the World by Watchman Nee (*****) – I found this a challenging and timely look at our loves and how we let the world’s system influence us as Christians. Definitely has some gems, not perfectly clear at times, but I really loved it.

The Holy Bible (*****) – 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians

Please share what you read in October/November! I’ll be next week, hopefully ;), for my November Reading Wrap Up.

The Nativity by Arthur Hughes

September Reads

Hello and Happy-Last-Week of October, friends!

I’m trying to catch up and wanted to share what I read last month!

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (*****) – This was actually at the tail end of August, because I was desperate for something other than the disappointing things I had been reading. It’s definitely predictable, but so cozy. I’ve reread this multiple times and I’m always in love with The Blue Castle by the lake. Swoon. The question about how I would live my life, if I only had a short time to live, always strikes me deeply. I love the friends to love story angle too, instead of all the instant romance stories out there. Have you read this Montgomery? Any other Blue Castle fans out there? If you could have ANY “blue castle” what would it be? I actually think the way Valancy’s is described is pretty close to my own dream.

At Mrs. Lippincote’s by Elizabeth Taylor (not the actress!) (*****) – I’ve wanted to read one of Taylor’s stories ever since I saw Jane Brocket’s recommendation of her in The Gentle Art of Domesticity. Wow. Subtle and uber perceptive look at human personality and character underneath layers of gorgeous domesticity and descriptive settings. The little boy and his mother’s bookish connection was lovely. This definitely had a darker but honest feeling to it. It felt so realistically human by everything not being perfectly happy. No formulaic tropes here. I loved the Bronte influence and thread throughout – at first, I wondered where this was going with the main protagonist, Julia, but then the tension eased for me a bit as I realized there wasn’t really going to be much of a “plot” or a lot of movement. It was more about seeing human nature in the little moments of life. I want to read this again soon and jot down some quotes and I very much hope to read more of her in the future.

The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder by Erin Blackmore (**) – Ugh. I found this book to be full of cheesy puns and Blackmore’s twisting of beloved stories to be super irritating to me. Ha! I was so disappointed. I looooove books about books and this one looked even MORE promising because of her book choices being ones that I love. I did enjoy the peek into the author’s lives and some of the things that Blakemore felt about her favorite stories, but this just wasn’t my cup of tea.

The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (And Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life by Andy Miller (****) –

“…my faith in art had never faltered. Culture could come in many forms, high, low or somewhere in-between: Mozart, The Muppet Show, Ian McEwan. Very little of it was truly great and much of it would always be bad, but all of it was necessary to live, to be alive, to frame the endless days and make sense of them.” โ™ก Andy Miller โ™ก

I felt like I could really understand Mr. Miller’s need to read and I could appreciate all that he was searching for in the pockets of time as he read between “real” life. His collection of quotes and thoughts on these books, humanity, writing, life and his sarcasm and humor made this a delicious read, albeit some of the British cultural references fell flat for me just cause I’m American. Ha! I also enjoyed that he is a fellow rereader. Good to know we don’t always have to be reading the “new” thing out there, because there is so many old things to read and revisit. I’ve challenged myself in the past couple of years to read widely and a bit deeper, not always reaching for fluff. Such an interesting and delightful bookish memoir!

Thornyhold by Mary Stewart (***) –

“Cousin Geillis must have seen it, and understood how, along with everything else, it would help to develop the strong sense of property that I had, the two-way need of belonging, and the almost fierce sense of responsibility that went with it. Thornyhold, with all it contained, would be safe with me.” Mary Stewart

Thornyhold was a cozy, domestic type mystery with a witchy spin to it. It kind of reminds me of a Goudge in setting style without dear Goudge’s amazing multiple layers, deepness, and spirituality ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ. So not like Goudge, maybe. ๐Ÿ˜‹ Very enjoyable!

The Door on Half-Bald Hill by Helena Sorenson (***.5) –
How do we ask the right questions? The Door on Half-Bald Hill took me a bit to get into and wrap my mind around, but slowly it crept it’s way into my heart. In an ancient Celtic world, told from the young Bard, Idris’ perspective, the tension of his desire to encourage his village with a new Story, Vision…or the Word, in the face of a creeping, bitter poison deep in the land is extraordinary high. As the village healer turns dark, mysterious, and closed off and the village Druid desperately clinging to old ways that aren’t speaking to him, Idris increasingly finds the villagers looking to him for answers. This story made me look a bit deeper and ask questions about life, love, and sacrifice.ย 

The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart (*****) – After reading Thornyhold by Stewart a friend mentioned her Merlin Trilogy being her best work, so I just devoured the first two. It is AMAZING. If you like Arthur/Merlin legend stories, please check these out. I hope to read the last this winter. I also learned there is a fourth book connected to this trilogy too!

The Holy Bible (*****)- Acts, Romans, and 1 Corinthians